Officials remain unclear whether chemicals on garments or hysteria caused more than 100 garment workers to faint after working less than one hour at a Phnom Penh factory on Friday morning.
Trucks drove nearly one hundred employees of Camitex Garment Manufacturing Company to Calmette hospital and dozens more to four other local hospitals.
“I don’t think we became unconscious because of the factory’s conditions,” said worker Nou Maneth, 28, as he rested in Calmette Hospital on Friday. “I smelled a little of the cloth as normal, but then I felt my head ache and it made me faint within a minute.”
After taking blood samples from some workers, Heng Taikry, director of Calmette, told reporters that he found “nothing poisonous” in their blood. The faintings were most likely caused by hysteria, he said, adding the workers he examined needed more nutrition.
“Most of them will not meet a serious problem and are able to go back to work as normal,” Heng Taikry said.
Factory management and government officials took water and cloth samples from the factory for tests. The results were not available late Friday.
“We at the factory really want to know what made our workers sick,” said Hap I Soue, head of the administration department at Camitex. “We are responding to cover all the medical costs.”
The mass faintings on Friday came on the heels of two similar incidents earlier this week. Authorities blamed a chemical for causing more than 150 garment workers in Kompong Speu province to faint on Monday. Chemicals were also suspected when 23 workers fainted at a Phnom Penh garment factory on Wednesday.
One worker at Camitex, who declined to give his name, said the factory has no closed walls, the owner does not force employees to work overtime and many workers took the day off for the holiday on Thursday.
“We totally did not understand why it happened,” the worker said. “It probably happened because we did not pray to any land spirits.”