Concerns over construction safety

Source: Khmer Times

Construction sites across the country remain deadly places to work. KT/Mai Vireak

The government earlier this week announced the creation of a national committee tasked with improving safety standards on construction sites and ensuring the welfare of labourers.

In an attempt to curb construction site accidents, the Labour Ministry on Monday said that the new national committee will oversee safety standards.

Labour Minister Ith Samheng said that committee members will be comprised of government officials, union representatives, employers and NGO staffers.

Mr Samheng said that the committee is obliged to inspect and analyse construction projects across the country. The committee is also required to meet four times per year.

“It’s for the promotion of health and safety in the construction sector,” he said.

Last year, the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation issued a report on construction site safety standards. The report was based on a survey of more than 1,000 construction workers at about 48 construction sites in the capital.

The union found that 12 percent of respondents felt that their construction sites were unsafe and that injuries were common.

About 90 percent of workers interviewed were unaware of the National Social Security Fund, which is responsible for workers’ medial bills in the case of a accident if they and the company they work for are registered.

Furthermore, 48 percent said that sites are only somewhat safe, while 40 percent of respondents said that their workplace was safe and relatively injury-free.

Union president Sok Kean said yesterday that safety is still a major issue on construction sites and added that the government must find solutions in order to ensure the safety of workers across the country.

“We appeal to the government to find a solution to protect them,” Mr Kean said. “In case the company is in the wrong, we are now urging companies to compensate injured workers.”

Construction sites in the capital and provinces are notoriously unregulated and dangerous, with workers often falling from high-rises and plummeting to their deaths.

Earlier this month, two construction workers died and five others were seriously injured after concrete frames collapsed and fell from the 23rd floor of the Mekong View Tower 6 construction site in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changva district.

Police said that ten workers were pouring cement into the frames when they gave away.

There are about 200,000 construction workers in the country, according ministry statistics.

Many construction workers face informal employment and are paid about $7.50 per day.

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