Factory Workers Faint Due to Fatigue, Hunger

High temperatures and poor ventilation in a garment factory  caused almost 60 garment workers to faint last week, sending many to the hospital and disrupting production for a day, factory officials said Monday.

Workers at the Kbal Koah Garment Co Ltd in Kien Svay district, Kandal province, grew weak from a lack of of fresh air last Wednesday and Thursday, district Police Chief Meang Pich said.

The factory closed Friday after approximately 40 workers fainted, a workers’ representative said on condition of anonymity. Ap­proximately 15 more workers fainted when the factory re­opened on Saturday, she said.

Some workers attributed the fainting spells to chemically treated cloth and blamed the factory owner for their poor health, the representative said. But others said a spirit, angered by a disre­spectful factory manager, caused the workers to faint, he said.

Doctors at the Chuen Min Hospital in Phnom Penh treated 14 workers suffering from fatigue and hunger with intravenous saline drips last week, hospital manager Paul Wen said.

Two other public hospitals also treated weakened workers, said the factory’s general administrator, Lim Hang Tai.

“The temperature was very hot, so the workers weren’t very good. And the Cambodian people do not eat very much,” Wen said.

Doctors released the workers after two hours, he said, but some patients returned to rest in the hospital’s air-conditioned rooms.

Officials from the World Health Organization and Health Ministry investigated and confirmed that the incident was not an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, a rumor spun after workers fell ill, Wen said.

In response to workers’ weakened health, factory management ordered four windows to be cut and 12 ceiling fans to be installed, Lim Hang Tai said. Management also requested an ambulance to be on standby, he said.

To appease the al­legedly perturbed land spirit, workers set out a large offering of food, Lim Hang Tai said. Production resumed as normal Monday, he added.

(Additional reporting by Kate Woodsome)

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