MORE than 500 workers at a Phnom Penh garment factory fainted Monday after they were exposed to a chemical spray, according to the president of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Staff at the Willbes Cambodia Ltd factory in Choam Chao commune, Dangkor district, fainted because the air was filled with “an unbearable chemical smell”, Chea Mony said. The factory had been closed on Saturday to allow garments to be sprayed with a chemical to make them more durable. “We want the garment factory to take responsibility for this”, he said.
Hem Darith, deputy governor of Dangkor district, said ambulances transported the affected people to various clinics and state hospitals. “There were many ambulances”, he said. “I could not count the number of victims.”
Environment and labour officials launched an immediate investigation and found that the factory, which employs about 2,500 people, wasn’t properly ventilated.
“Not enough air gets into the room,” he said. “There is no fresh air. The workers become weak.” Drinking water from the factory was also tested, but ruled out as a possible cause.
Pok Vanthat, director of the Labour Health Department at the Ministry of Labour, could not be reached for comment on Monday.