Creative contest spreads workplace safety awareness in Cambodia

29 May 2019

20 May 2019.

Phnom Penh– A Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) photo and video competition on the theme of Occupational, Safety and Health (OSH) run over the past months aims to raise workers’ and factories’ awareness over the importance of safety in the workplace.

The competition, developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, asked workers to produce photos or a short video to illustrate crucial OSH measures adopted on the factory floor.

The winners of both categories were awarded in Phnom Penh on May 3.

“I did not expect to be awarded the first prize. I had little knowledge of OSH and did not know how to take pictures,” says sewing operator Horn Sokha, the winner of the photo category. “This contest helped me understand more about the importance of OSH procedures for workers inside the factory. When I look around, I can see the potential for many incidents to happen if one doesn’t take precautionary measures.”

Sokha’s photo shows an emergency alarm connected to a battery meant to alert the workforce about incidents on the factory floor. Functioning alarms are crucial, life-saving elements amid accidents. At their sound, workers must immediately leave the factory premises through emergency exits and gather at the assembly point outside the factory.

The contest is part of a broader, on-going campaign set to catalyse attention to OSH practices in garment factories and increase the participation of OSH committees, managers and trade unions in OSH-related initiatives.

“This contest helps workers and factory managers improve social dialogue and take steps to ensure key areas of improvement regarding emergency preparedness,” Ith Sam Heng, Cambodia Minister of Labour and Vocational Training, told the audience at awards ceremony. “We congratulate all the winners who took part in the photo and video contest. This moment really shows a commitment from each worker to understanding and sharing their perceptions on OSH.”

Winning entries were selected by representatives from the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), trade unions, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and BFC.

The latter recently called on local factories to enhance their OSH management systems across the country. According to the programme, establishing responsibilities and accountability on the factory floor not only improves working conditions for workers, it also has a positive impact on businesses themselves through increased productivity, fewer accidents and lower staff turnover.

“At BFC, we envision a garment and footwear sector of safe, healthy and productive workplaces where Cambodian workers don’t have to worry about their safety and where they can take responsibility for the working environment, together with management,” said Sara Park, BFC’s acting programme manager. “We thank all entrants to this competition and congratulate the winners! We hope that this is one step towards a safer environment in their factory, and increased awareness regarding having a safe place to work each day.”

Union representatives attending the competition closing ceremony called on all stakeholders to continue their efforts to improve workers’ safety through the provision of good working environments, welfare facilities, health services and OSH management systems across factories.

The competition proved to be an ideal venue for workers to reflect on the importance of OSH practices and spread the word among colleagues.

A long shot image showing an obstruction-free space between production lines and an easily-accessible fire extinguisher at its end won the second photo prize.

“I realized that my thinking about OSH was wrong. This contest reminded me about ways to prevent and protect myself from work-related incidents,” says team leader Toem Mary, who captured the image. “From now on, I will better follow rules and regulations concerning safety and health, share this knowledge with my colleagues and immediately report hazards.”

A video showing workers talking through OSH measures in the workplace won the first prize. The clip’s protagonists are seen proudly telling the viewers their garment workers wear protection masks during shifts and that their factory has clean restrooms and good ventilation systems, along with clearly-signaled emergency exits and escape routes.

“After joining the contest, I realized everyone is facing possible risks at the workplace,” says Ny Timaniy, who shot the video.  I will keep learning new things and share my knowledge with others to guarantee their safety during work.”

Winners of the photo competition were:

  1. An emergency alarm connected to a battery, Horn Sokha, New Mingda (Cambodia) Co., Ltd
  2. Obstruction-free spaces with fire extinguisher, Toem Mary, Meng Yee Garment Manufactory Co., Ltd.

Winner of the video competition was:

Working environment, Horn Sokha, New Mingda (Cambodia) Co., Ltd. (video above)

Since 2001, Better Factories Cambodia has joined with workers, employers and government to improve working conditions and boost the competitiveness of the garment industry. Better Factories Cambodia is part of Better Work, a joint programme of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank Group.

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