Safety in Cambodian garment factories needs to be improved through a complete overhaul of building regulations and the inspection regime, says a new report.

The Cambodia Garment and Footwear Industry Fire and Life Safety Risk report, funded by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), is one of seven risk profile reports compiled for Better Work country programmes.

This particular report aims to help Better Factories Cambodia to improve conditions at the factories, setting out measures designed to improve the approach, materials, tools and protocols on fire and building safety, recommending measures for key industry stakeholders.

Cambodia’s current Labor Law does not adequately address fire and building safety, the report states, with no formal building code, no building inspection procedures and irregular labour inspections. Recent incidents include two deaths when a portion of a shoe factory collapsed in May 2013, and at least eight injuries when the floor slab of a garment factory collapsed in October this year.

The report urges the Cambodian government to develop and implement standards on fire and building safety; to draw up a building code; to develop a programme to certify the soundness and safety of existing buildings; and to improve assessment and incident reporting procedures.

Meanwhile, high-risk factories should set targets on fire and safety conditions, develop policies and procedures on the issue, and focus on internal awareness and training, alongside regular assessment of progress.

And buyers are urged by the report to require suppliers to carry out annual inspections – with buyers covering their cost – as well as implementing a reward and penalty system on safety issues.