With no regulations for fire safety at workplaces in Cambodia, several global and local organisations are calling for garment and shoe factory owners to take it upon themselves to ensure worker protection.
At a conference yesterday, about 90 representatives of factories, buyers and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) listened as NGOs and analysts reported their findings and suggestions for fire and building safety improvements.
“Here in Cambodia, it’s difficult to [enforce] this, because we are dealing with no regulations,” said Rey Macaro, senior process consultant for Excellence Clarity Certainty Innovation International (ECCI).
“In other countries, [safety infrastructure] is a must, but most [Cambodian] companies don’t have this, because there is no law requiring it.”
At least one electrical fire occurred just this week at a Phnom Penh garment factory.
Simple procedures, like keeping flammable garments away from electrical outlets and general housekeeping in factories could drastically curtail the amount of fires and accidents that occur in the Kingdom.
ECCI’s conclusions came after examining a sample of 10 Cambodian factories: eight garment and two shoe factories.
Attendees of the meeting at the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Centre were also encouraged to be a part of a project headed up by PROTECT, an occupational safety institution, which would assist Cambodian factories in bringing workplaces up to the standards of the United States’ Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
“We need to do something in Cambodia to enhance the knowledge,” Truong Thi Thuy Vy, a project manager with Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST), said of the project. “The risk [of an accident] is always there, but if we can minimise that risk, it’s OK.”
The project is free for factory owners, and will run from 2015 through 2016 and include trainings and consultations, Vy said.
While supporting safety in factories, a GMAC official introduced as Khun said the minimum wage hike up to $128, which takes effect January 1, will make fireproofing factories and assuring their structural integrity difficult.