More than 100 workers at a South Korean-owned toy factory in Kandal province fainted on Thursday after a farmer sprayed insecticide nearby, officials said.
A statement posted on the Facebook page of the National Social Security Fund said 119 workers—mostly women—fainted at the PPNP Soya Toy factory inside the 7NG Economic Zone in Khsach Kandal district.
“The reason is because of insecticide, which a farmer sprayed nearby and it spread into the factory, causing the workers to vomit, become dizzy, weak and faint one by one,” the statement said.
Eighty-three workers were rushed to district referral hospital, while 36 were sent to the Prek Anhchanh Health Center, it said.
Un Yong, a deputy district police chief, said the farmer who sprayed the insecticide, 34-year-old Oeun Orn, was briefly detained and ordered not to spray the substance near the factory in the future.
“The case happened at about 9 to 10 this morning…. At that time a man sprayed insecticide for killing insects in the rice field about 60 meters from the factory but the vapor spread inside the factory,” Mr. Yong said.
“We detained him for questioning and confiscated his spray container and ordered him to sign an agreement with the police to stop this,” he said.
Pok Vanthat, chairman of the Labor Ministry’s fainting research and prevention committee, said all the workers had been discharged from the hospital by on Thursday evening, and would return to work today.
“We also informed local authorities to ban people from spraying chemicals close to the factory or while the workers are working,” Mr. Vanthat said.
According to Mr. Vanthat, nearly 1,200 workers at 19 factories in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kandal, Kompong Speu, Kompong Chhnang, Svay Rieng and Prey Veng have fainted so far this year.
Mass faintings are common in Cambodian factories, and widely believed to be a form of mass psychogenic illness, which occurs more often among people affected by poverty, poor nutrition and sub-par working conditions.