At least 140 workers fainted in three separate Phnom Penh factories Monday, forcing one of the factories to cease operations until it can be fitted with proper ventilation.
Monday’s incidents come after a weekend of mass faintings at the same industrial park over the weekend, when another 140 people fainted at six factories. These bring to about 1,000 the number of faintings in garment factories around the country so far this year, surpassing last year’s total of 823.
“Today, 79 workers from Papillion Textile, 55 workers from Dongdu Textile, and six from Newpex II fainted,” said Pok Vanthat, deputy director of the Ministry of Labor’s health department. All the factories are located in the Vattanac II Industrial Park in Dangkao district.
“These garment workers started fainting since Friday at the Newpex II factory, because the factory is very hot and has no fans or air-conditioning.”
About 20 workers from the same factory also fainted on Friday, he said.
“After seeing workers from other factories faint because some workers from this factory fainted, we decided to close the [Newpex II] factory temporarily until it solves the problems within the factory,” Dr. Vanthat said, adding that the workers have been given two weeks off work with pay.
“The workers who fainted in the other factories will be allowed to relax for three days or a week.”
Dongdu Textile worker Seng Sor Phea, 36, said she felt overcome after smelling something bad as she worked.
“I ran outside because I got dizzy and vomited after seeing more than 10 other workers faint this morning,” she said outside the factory Monday.
Newpex’s administrator Souang Piseth said factory officials agreed to shutter the factory after receiving an order from the Ministry of Labor to do so.
“We agreed to temporarily close Newpex II factory today until the repairs in the factory are finished, which will take about three to four weeks,” Mr. Piseth said, adding that workers will be moved to a sister factory, Newpex I, until renovations are complete.
“We believe that the workers did not faint because we were missing fans or air-conditioning in our factory. However, while they may have fainted after seeing others faint, we accept responsibility.”