Wednesday, September 30, 2009

International Workplace Safety Seminar Conducted

BY BUT H REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The 12th edition of the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational Accident Victims (ANROAV) conference has been conducted during three days from the 22nd to the 24th of September in Phnom Penh to strengthen the communication and cooperation between different organizations in Asia.

A total of 17 countries from Asian and European origin have participated at the ANROAV conference which was jointly organized by the ANROA, Cambodia’s Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training (MoLVT), the Asian Monitor Resource Centre, and Cambodian Labor Congress (CLC) in Cambodia.

It is the first time for the conference to be held in Cambodia. The main objective of the annual conference is to promote and strengthen the communications and cooperation of different organizations, in order to increase the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) of workers and law enforcements in Asia.

Leng Thong, Director of the Occupational Safety and Health Department in the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training and also represented for the MoLVT Minister Vong Sauth welcomed the delegates. “Our workers are facing difficulties such as unemployment and being laid off; many workers encounter hardship in meeting their own needs because there are no job opportunities,” he said. “I strongly believe that with lessons and experiences of the ANROAV network will be able to help us address the difficulties of our workers. I believe that the efforts of Cambodia in hosting this annual meeting with coordination and support of Asian Monitor Resource Centre and Cambodian Labor Congress and other agencies will be an important contribution towards the promotion and development of the Occupational Safety and Health in the framework of ANROAV network,” The Director said during his opening remarks at the ANROAV’s Annual Conference on September 22.

Thong continued to say that hazardous materials like asbestosis which should be completely banned due to its toxic nature and the harm it inflicts on their lunges are still being widely used in the region with a very powerful industry lobbying to keep its use in Asia to serve the interest of a few and the cost of the lives and health of millions. Meanwhile workers are still being affected and are dying in large numbers due to silicosis which is a silent killer in the region where workers, families and communities are continue to die due to the impacts of these harmful materials.

Relating to the economic development and job opportunities in Cambodia, Thong said that Cambodian government has made a very active efforts in carrying out economic and social rehabilitation and development by setting out the rectangular strategy for growth, employment, equity and efficiency which is a crucial tool for sustaining the implementation of the government’s platform in order to achieve the most goals, namely poverty reduction, development, progress and happiness for Cambodian people.

In parallel with Cambodian government’s strategy, Thong said his Ministry now has been implementing its strategic plan 2006-2010 aiming at skill development, job creation, setting up a national social security system and ensuring better working conditions and safe workplaces for all workers in Cambodia.

To promote the safety and health of Cambodian workers, Thong said his ministry has developed the first OSH Master Plan 2009-2013 with the technical and financial support of the International Labor Organization (ILO). The plan contains the following 6 priority areas: strengthening national OSH systems; improving safety and health inspections and compliance; promoting OSH activities by employers’ and workers’ organizations; implementing special programs for hazardous occupations; extending OSH protection to small enterprises, and informal and rural workplaces; and promoting collaborative actions with hazardous child labor and HIV/AIDS projects and activities.

“We need to take a strategic approach towards workplace safety and health. In order to achieve significant improvement in safety standards and to sustain progress in our region,” he said. “We need to develop our knowledge as well as our expertise on safety and health in the workplace so that it goes in tandem with high-tech modern machinery.”

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