Worker’s Safety Standards Are Accepted by Government

Hoping to curb an unusually high accident rate on haphazardly-monitored Cambodian construction sites, the government pushed job safety Thursday by formally adopting a Japanese-written set of standardized work site safety regulations. 

Seven hundred of the Japanese safety books—produced by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and translated into Khmer—will be distributed to private construction firms.

Uk Chan, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Public Works, said the text, which illustrates various safety themes and regulations through easily understood phrases and cartoon illustrations, would also likely be made part of the curriculum for Cambodian engineering students.

“The current [safety] conditions on construction sites in Cam­bodia are weak,” Touch Chan­kosal, director of the Heavy Equipment Center for the Min­istry of Public Works, told a seminar of 60 construction foreman.

Speakers at Thursday’s seminar, co-chaired by Cambodian and Japanese public works officials, painted a bleak picture of Cambodian job sites. Workers often labor without even the most rudimentary safety equipment—helmets, gloves or boots—and accidents sometimes go unreported by companies afraid to damage their reputations.

“If workers die or are injured, it…shows weak management,” Touch Chankosal said.

Cambodian officials said there is no accurate reporting system for worksite deaths or injuries, though several fatalities occurred last year that highlighted the industry’s lack of safety standards.

In early 1999 a Cambodian welder died on the Mekong River bridge project in Kampong Cham province after he fell into the water.

Five workers were electrocuted in May 1999 while working on Parkway Square, the country’s largest shopping mall, as they placed an air conditioner unit on exposed electrical wires on Mao Tse Tung Boulevard.

Two months later, another death occurred on the Mekong River Bridge when a Malaysian worker drowned after a crane overturned. The fatality was blamed on job site carelessness and work was halted on the bridge pending an investigation.

“Many workers were killed at job sites by construction equipment because there is no proper safety control management,” Touch Chankosal said.

Officials said they would like to see better organized construction sites, with immediate first-aid available and daily or weekly meetings to monitor work progress. Touch Chankosal said that equipment needs to be checked regularly. He also said many accidents accur because old machines are used despite being in states of disrepair.

But Cambodian officials ac­know­ledged that, even with regulations in place, there needs to be better enforcement of the rules before results are likely to be seen.

Uk Chan said the Ministry of Public Works intends to begin inspecting the job sites of private construction companies “to cooperate with site leaders and protect the workers.”

Tse Tung Boulevard.

Two months later, another death occurred on the Mekong River Bridge when a Malaysian worker drowned after a crane overturned. The fatality was blamed on job site carelessness and work was halted on the bridge pending an investigation.

“Many workers were killed at job sites by construction equipment because there is no proper safety control management,” Touch Chankosal said.

Officials said they would like to see better organized construction sites, with immediate first-aid available and daily or weekly meetings to monitor work progress. Touch Chankosal said that equipment needs to be checked regularly. He also said many accidents accur because old machines are used despite being in states of disrepair.

But Cambodian officials acknowledged that, even with regulations in place, there needs to be better enforcement of the rules before results are likely to be seen.

Uk Chan said the Ministry of Public Works intends to begin inspecting the job sites of private construction companies “to cooperate with site leaders and protect the workers.”

 

 

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