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Alarm bells as workers panic, faint

Nineteen garment workers employed by KKN Apparel Co Ltd fainted on Monday evening after an emergency bell sounded in the factory, in Koh Kong’s Mondol Seima district, police said.

Ngam Dara, the district’s police chief, told the Post an electric circuit broke, sounding an alarm bell throughout the building.

“[Workers] ran out quickly when they heard the emergency bell ring.… Those who ran out late were in shock and fell down,” Dara said.

Employees are instructed to exit immediately upon hearing the alarm, Dara added, noting such an incident had not happened before.

“The factory sent the workers who fainted to hospital and they received help in time,” Dara said, adding that the 19 employees all left hospital yesterday.

Joel Preston, a consultant for the Community Legal Education Centre, said fainting was a wider issue in factories, often due to malnutrition.

“What is not commonly understood is that people are fainting in factories every day just not always en masse,” he said. “Incontrovertible evidence agreed upon by the NGO community, trade unions and even the brand owners is that malnutrition, excessive work and precipitating factors like chemical exposure or changes in ventilation is what pushes workers to the brink.”

Factory officials could not be reached.

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