Safety In The Workplace: Paul Hurford Speaks

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We talk safety in the workplace with Paul Hurford, the managing director of AZISAFE – an international company specialising in providing products, services and training solutions in the safety, security and risk management fields. Based in Cambodia, AZISAFE is divided into 6 divisions: FireSafe, GunSafe, HealthSafe, RiskSafe, RoadSafe and TechSafe.

B2B: Compared to neighboring countries, how safe and hazard-free are workplaces in Cambodia? How advanced are standards of safety and security?

Hurford: Compared to neighbouring countries, Cambodia is a long way behind. Vietnam and Thailand both have a large range of safety standards already in place, with Myanmar quickly catching up. However Cambodia is years behind this. Safety and security standards have a long way to go here: the current practice is to implement standards from all over the world, which only sets things further back, without ensuring improvements in safety.

B2B: What are the most common security and health hazards that beset businesses in Phnom Penh and Cambodia?

Hurford: There are many different hazards. In general safety, fire is still the biggest risk faced by business. With limited government response capabilities and low community understanding of fire prevention, businesses need to ensure that they are prepared; this includes staff awareness and training, and the acquisition of appropriate equipment. From a health perspective, businesses face another set of challenges: namely, ensuring staff are physically capable for the work that they are tasked. With malnutrition and preventable diseases still very common within the community, employers need to look at ways of ensuring productivity from staff – something that would not necessarily be required in other countries.

B2B: What can be done at a governmental level to improve safety standards in the workplace? What regulations would you like to see passed that would make workplaces safer?

Hurford: Fire safety, construction safety and general workplace safety are all areas that need to be addressed. The important thing to remember is that due to the culture, the climate and the environment we live in, simply implementing someone else’s standards is not an answer. The public sector needs to come together with the government to address these issues as proper local standards will be of benefit to all.

B2B: What are some of the challenges and pitfalls of running a safety and security firm in Cambodia?

Hurford: The biggest challenges are that we still live in a world where safety is someone else’s problem and we only do our bit if it is mandated. Many businesses will regularly comment about fire and safety standards currently not being good enough, but we are not seeing these same businesses stepping up and investing in becoming a safety role model. The majority of our business comes from external influences driving businesses to invest in safety. It amazes me sometimes to look at the amount of investment that occurs without proper risk assessment and without investing a little more into mitigation measures that will protect the investment from these risks.

B2B: Which ones of AZISAFE’s products and services are most popular in Cambodia? Which ones are most popular with local businesses and which ones are most popular with foreign-run firms?

Hurford: AZISAFE has a broad range of both products and services with no real standout leading product. Amongst the local business our consulting services are popular as we can provide them with professional advice previously unavailable and not understood. From the foreign run firms it is a full range of products as they tend to trust products we sell over what is available in the general market. Fire and safety equipment maintenance and servicing is another area that is becoming quite popular with international run businesses.