WWD: Global Retailers Tackle Cambodian Workers' Traffic Deaths
September 19, 2016
By Dene-Hern Chen
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – In a bid to address the growing traffic fatalities affecting the apparel sector, representatives of 12 major clothing retailers — including H&M, Gap and Puma — met here this week to discuss a strategy to improve road safety for factory employees as they commute to work.
Cambodia has long been plagued by a lack of serious enforcement of road safety and traffic regulations, with traffic accidents being the nation’s leading cause of death. The problem is especially acute in the apparel sector as data from the Ministry of Labor’s National Social Security Fund — which investigates and compensates workplace injuries — shows that industry workers were involved in 4,300 traffic accidents last year, resulting in 60 fatalities.
So far this year, there have been more than 2,200 traffic accidents involving apparel industry workers that have left more than 3,200 injured and 42 dead.
Esther Germans, program manager of the International Labor Organization’s Better Factories Program — which facilitated the meeting between the brands on Wednesday — said that while this is a nationwide issue, “it has specific characteristics for the garment sector.”
“It’s bigger than garment factories. We have been struggling with finding our entry point to what we can do about it because it’s about a lack of good traffic habits, the need for transportation, the lack of enforcement of the law,” she said before the meeting. “It’s not within our control, but it is the brands’ concern as it involves the safety of the garment factory workers.”