Focus on Fire Safety
Carrying specially-printed flags, placards and banners with the campaign theme “Promoting Fire Safety and Preventing Occupational Injury in Cambodia”, hundreds of participants in white T-shirts and caps walked into the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on April 28, 2013 to begin the observation of World Day for Occupational Safety and Health (OSH).
The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT), Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) jointly organized the event with a focus on the need for greater attention to fire safety in the Kingdom.
About 1200 representatives of the government, employers, trade unions and hundreds of workers took part in the morning-long activities, which consisted of a march and speeches by esteemed guests including the Minister of Labour and Vocational Training, His Excellency Vong Sauth. A safety show was performed by the CTN comedy group, which amused the crowd while at the same time provided an educational messages on fire safety.
Additionally, workers participated in a contest on promoting fire safety at work.
The competition was jointly organized by The MoLVT, ILO-Better Factories Cambodia and GMAC to empower workers to propose practical and inexpensive steps that can be taken to improve fire safety in their factories.
Workers could write a song, write and perform a skit, create posters or submit any other proposal to teach their colleagues what to do in case of a fire. Ninety proposals were received and the top 15 were selected to present their ideas to judges.
The winners of the competition received cash awards. The top three awards were presented to the winners by the Labour Minister.
In Profile: Winners of Fire Safety Competition
Khy Srey Roth: Inspired to help others
Though she has never witnessed any fire accidents, equipped with training from factories and organizations as well as her two years experience working at Global Apparel, Khy Sreyroth wrote a poem about fire safety procedures and won the first prize.
After winning the competition, the factory asked her to record her poem and then played it in the factory to help other workers better understand how to prevent fires. “I was really shy and afraid that other workers might think it was not good enough but it turns out that they like it and they praised my ability and admire me, which makes me so happy,” she says.
“My mother and my sister were even happier than I was because there were a lot ofcontestants and I won first prize. They are very proud of me, especially when other workers say good things about me to them, and admire me,” says Sreyroth who has a 10th grade education.
Kit Sopheak : Sharing knowledge on fire safety
Having witnessed a fire in the sewing section of her workplace, 27-year-old garment worker, Kit Sopheak put her first-hand experience into writing and won the second place in the fire safety competition.
The factory that Sopheak is working in has spread the word of her winning and asked supervisors in each section to share the messages she wrote.
Born and raised in Prek Pnov, where she is also working, Sopheak said that the competition has changed her life. Before the competition she was really shy and scared that she could do nothing besides sewing, but now she believes in herself and she feels new confidence and courage.
“It is the greatest experience in my life. Nothing I can say can explain how amazing I feel,” she said.
Proeung Chenda: Poetry to promote safety.
The third place winner, Proeung Chenda, wrote a poem describing how to evacuate workers, how to use fire extinguishers, what workers should do in case of a fire, what factories themselves should do to prevent fires, and even includes the number of the fire department.
Chenda wanted to explain to his colleagues that fire has many consequences. It can destroy property and equipment in the factories, it can cause the factory to shut down, and it can kill people if they can’t prevent it.
After winning the competition, Chenda made copies of his poem and distributed them to other workers to ensure that they understood the meaning of the poem. He was also invited to recite his poem at factory meetings and explain fire safety to his co-workers, including how to properly use fire extinguishers.