Labour officials are investigating why about 30 garment workers reportedly fainted and 130 others became dizzy at a factory in Preah Sihanouk province yesterday amid speculation that poor ventilation was to blame.
A garment worker recovers at a hospital in Sihanoukville town after a mass fainting episode at the Nanguo Garment Co Ltd factory in Preah Sihanouk province yesterday.
Provincial police chief Tak Vantha said the incident occurred at about 8:30am at the Nanguo Garment Co Ltd factory in the Preah Sihanouk Special Economic Zone in Prey Nop district.
“Some said it was caused from not enough air [in the factory] and some said it’s about the smell of the clothes, but we are working on more details,” he said.
Yov Khemara, director of the provincial labour department, said that some among the 162 workers were sent to hospitals and clinics, while others sought treatment themselves.
“The real [number of workers] who fainted is only 30,” he said, adding that about 70 to 80 percent of those who received treatment had returned home. “Others just felt dizzy, and got headaches.”
Yov Khemara said that there were no open windows and not enough ventilation in the factory, which employs about 700 workers, although fainting could also be attributed to workers “hanging out” on weekends, which weakened them.
“First, two workers fainted, so others followed them,” he said, adding that the factory had been temporarily closed. “We have seen that windows closed in buildings make workers faint more.”
Some workers believed that spirits had caused them to faint, Yok Khemara added. “It is because they lack sugar in the body; it’s not about any ghosts,” he said.
Pok Vanthat, deputy director of the labour health department at Ministry of Labour, who heads the committee, said a committee was due to arrive in Preah Sihanouk province at about 6pm yesterday to begin investigations.
Garment worker Moeng Sophon, 32, said she was receiving treatment but still suffered from a headache.
“When I entered the factory, I started to [have a] pain in my head,” she said. “I saw some workers faint, so I followed.”
Ly Dy, a provincial monitor for the Free Trade Union of Workers, said some workers had improved, but others were unconscious and equipped with oxygen to help them breathe.
“It is because the environment at the factory is not good,” he said.
Representatives from Nanguo Garment Co Ltd could not be reached for comment.