(Phnom Penh) – In early February, the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT) came to Better Factories Cambodia with a proposition. It was looking increasingly likely that the Coronavirus was going to have a significant impact on the country’s garment factories and the government could see that clear guidance on how to respond was needed for both workers and managers.
In mid-February, a team from Better Factories Cambodia, along with officials from the Ministry’s Department of Occupational Health and Safety (DOSH) began working on a module on emergency preparedness. Time was short, the numbers of confirmed cases in Cambodia was low but infection rates seemed certain to climb.
“There was pressure to develop the guide quickly,” recalls Better Factories Cambodia’s training manager Nov Dara, “but we also had to be sure our information came from reliable sources, like the WHO.” By the end of the month, and after clearance from the Cambodian Ministry of Health and the Cambodian office of the World Health Organisation, the training module was ready.
The information was immediately taken up by the Government and rolled out through DOSH and also by the Svay Rieng Provincial Department of Labour and Vocational Training. With an initial focus on garment factories, the training also extended to other sectors of the economy, including banking and retail staff. Progress was rapid. By the end of March, DoSH and the regional office had trained 456 businesses covering more than 20 thousand workers, with more than two-thirds of them women. Many more businesses have been trained in April.
As well as delivering the training to more than 150 factories it advises, Better Factories Cambodia has also worked to train the national and regional ministries of labour and with union confederations and employer groups.
“It’s really important to reach everybody in the industry,” says Sokrethyuthea Ung, Advisory and Training Officer for Better Factories Cambodia, “workers’ health depends on it”.
The guide, Hygiene and Prevention against COVID-19 is available both in English and Khmer Better Factories Cambodia delivers train-the-trainer sessions remotely. The content covers the basics on the known history of the outbreak, its pattern of infection and modes of transmission. Specific COVID 19 advice relates to prevention, handwashing, social distancing and travel. It also lists government contacts numbers in cases of suspected infection
Following up, the programme has developed a new, more detailed resource on emergency preparedness for factory management. It outlines daily factory hygiene measures, containment rooms, temperature testing procedures and workplace cleaning. It also includes advice for factory health staff and managers on assessing the severity of an episode if workers present with illness, and when and how to respond to suspected cases of infection.