Around 50 workers at a shoe factory on the outskirts of Phnom Penh fainted yesterday and Wednesday, police and local officials said.
Varying reasons were cited for the incidents, however, with police claiming the events were due to the workers’ poor health, while a district official said chemical fumes from shoe glue had caused the mass fainting.
Ret Chea, deputy police chief for Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district, said 20 workers at the Chinese-owned shoe factory Tiger Wing, located in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on the capital’s outskirts, fainted yesterday during work, while another 35 workers had collapsed in the factory on Wednesday.
Mr Chea said police had brought in Kandal provincial health department officials who had examined the workers and found they fainted because all were suffering from exhaustion due to the recent heat wave.
“During the two days, factory workers fainted because they were tired and did not sleep enough after leaving work,” Mr Chea said, adding that another reasons included, “the weather which is so hot, and a lack of food hygiene.”
He denied that chemical fumes might have played a role in the events. “It’s not from any chemicals,” he insisted.
Ang Snuol district Governor Samouth Thoeun said a separate investigation by district officials indicated, however, that chemical fumes from shoe glue had affected workers.
“At 4:30 pm [yesterday] we went to examine and found it was caused by fumes from glue for shoes,” he said, adding the hot weather also played a role and “some workers fell unconscious when they saw a few other people faint, they followed each other.”
Sroeun Sokheng, a 25-year-old team leader of a group of factory worker at Tiger Wing, said all affected workers had gone home after the events, adding she thought the incidents were due to health problems of the workers.