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Great to watch but it's danger at work high up in Patong

Phuket's Most Dangerous Job: High Wire Worker

Wednesday, August 20, 2008
DOING the rounds of the island and the region, the Phuketwan team gets to look at plenty of construction sites.

We often see workers without hardhats and wearing flipflops, or thongs, as Australians call them, operating high up, without safety precautions.

Recently we watched as two men wearing just shorts and not much else climbed up a construction piling, adding each step of the makeshift ladder as they climbed.

It was amazing to watch. Their athleticism and timing is worthy of an Olympic medal.

In the West, this kind of ingenious and highly skilled stuff is seen only in circuses, not on construction sites. When it comes to building, the safety of workers comes first.

So, what is the law in Thailand? We asked the Chief of the Phuket Provincial Office of Labor Protection and Welfare, Anuchon Varinsathien.

Workers on construction sites above ground level are reguired by law to wear work boots and hardhats, as well as a protective jacket, Khun Anuchon said.

Inspectors from the department give a warning to the management on any site they find where standards are not being met.

The offending contractors are reminded that the penalty for not wearing the right equipment starts at 1000 baht and goes higher, and it can include a jail term.

Serious offenders can face a heavy fine and a jail term.

Inspectors return after a week to make sure the appropropriate changes have been made, Khun Anuchon said.

''My staff has to cover the whole island,'' he said. ''The main problem is the hardhats.

''People, especially women in construction, use wide-brimmed hats to keep off the sun.

''The answer is to wear both. It may not be as attractive, but people are safer that way.''

He admitted that there were accidents on construction sites but could not tell Phuketwan whether there was a high incident of fatalities on Phuket sites.

''Most construction contractors are keen to make sure their staff are protected because they will have to pay large amounts of compensation in the event of an accident,'' Khun Anuchon said.

People who see construction workers breachnig the safety laws should alert the labor department with a call to 076 211995.


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Thursday May 23, 2024
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