PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — An industrial dryer in a Levi’s supplier factory exploded on Wednesday afternoon in the Cambodian capital, killing one worker and leaving at least seven injured.
The explosion occurred around noon at Zhen Tai Garment Factory in the Phnom Penh Thmey commune. According to commune chief Chum Saray, Kol Samorn, 43, was killed during the explosion.
“Seven other female garment workers, including a pregnant woman, sustained minor injuries,” he said. “The explosion occurred because the dryer is very old so when it becomes too hot, then it exploded. The explosion killed the garment worker and injured seven others while they were on lunch break.”
Updated last year, Levi Strauss’ supplier list has Zhen Tai Garment Factory listed as one of its 14 suppliers in Cambodia.
Moeun Tola, head of the Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights — a local labor rights organization that monitors factory violations — confirmed that Zhen Tai produces clothing for both denim giant Levi Strauss and Dutch fashion retailer C&A.
He explained that machines such as industrial-sized dryers should be registered with the Ministry of Industry and subjected to regular quality checks by the government and inspectors.
Ourn Sophea, a representative of Zhen Tai Garment Factory, declined to comment on the explosion, explaining that she was at the hospital visiting the injured.
Commenting on the accident, a Levi & Strauss spokeswoman in Europe said, “We are deeply concerned about the explosion at the Zhen Tai Garment Cambodia Co. Ltd. factory in Cambodia. We have started an investigation to learn more about today’s events. Levi Strauss & Co. remains committed to worker safety and extends our sympathy to those workers and their families who were affected by the explosion.”
She said Levi’s plans to work with the factory’s owners to ensure the injured workers are compensated, as well as their families and the family of the worker who was killed.
Every vendor Levi’s works with has to adhere to the company’s Terms of Engagement, which it described as “a comprehensive workplace code of conduct we first introduced in 1991.” The spokeswoman said the terms outline guidelines for labor, health, safety and the environment and also establish employment standards, especially regarding child or forced labor; disciplinary actions; hours, wages and benefits; freedom of association, and building and health safety.
“We employ a full-time headcount in Cambodia to work with our suppliers to improve social and environmental compliance with our Terms of Engagement,” she added. “We also partner with the International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia program for regular annual monitoring of all our Cambodian suppliers.”
For more on Cambodia from WWD, see the below:
Global Retailers Tackle Cambodian Workers’ Traffic Deaths