68 Workers Faint at Phnom Penh Garment Factory

At least 68 female workers at the Pine Great Garment Factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district fainted while working Friday and Saturday, union and factory representatives said yesterday.

However, they disagreed as to the cause of the faintings, with Free Trade Union Secretary-General Srey Kimheng citing chemical fumes as the problem and factory administrator Thong Sothea claiming that the workers had collapsed from poor health.

Mr Sothea said that the mass fainting began on Friday when two workers fell unconscious from their chairs, after which 20 on-looking workers followed suit later that day. On Saturday, 46 more workers fainted, he said.

Mr Sothea said that the workers were unconscious for only a short time and were immediately treated at a nearby hospital. All of the affected workers have since returned to work.

Mr Sothea said he was told by the factory’s doctor that the workers had “started weak” and had fainted from exhaustion caused by both long work days and inadequate glucose intake.

However, Mr Kimheng of the Free Trade Union said that the faintings were caused by chemical fumes, citing the bad smell of the chemicals used on the cloth in the factory.

Municipal Health Department Director Sok Sokhun, who confirmed that over 68 workers had fainted, said that it is common for female factory workers to fall unconscious due both to chemical fumes and personal health problems.

Mr Sokhun said that he plans to further investigate the incident with the Phnom Penh environment department and the garment factory.

“I plan to investigate this case with the department of the environment,” he said by telephone yesterday, adding: “I know that in general a worker who works hard, eats little, and does not have enough energy can easily fall unconscious when exposed to bad chemical smells.”

Mass faintings at factories are not uncommon. Last month, 50 workers recovered after falling unconscious while working at Tiger Wing, a shoe factory in Kandal province.



Related Stories

Latest News

The Weekly DispatchA weekly newsletter from The Cambodia Daily delivering news, analysis and opinion to your inbox. Published every Friday at 11:30am. Sign up today.