Twenty garment workers fainted on the job yesterday morning at a Chinese-owned factory in Kandal province, an incident workers blamed on fumes from an on-site dye kiln.
The fainting at Lin Wen Chih Sunstone Garment Enterprises, which one observer believed to be the year’s first such incident, took place at about 8am yesterday, according to Mou Thavy, 24, an employee there.
Thavy, who fainted herself, said that while she did not know the exact cause of the incident, the factory’s windows were closed and the fan had been turned off because of cold weather, per workers’ requests.
“One worker fainted and then everyone else did,” she said.
Following the mass fainting, afflicted workers were taken to the Chey Chumneas Hospital. They returned to work at 11am.
Thy Phalla, legal adviser at rights group CENTRAL, citing testimony from workers, speculated that the incident was caused by fumes from a nearby dye kiln.
Though the kiln is only turned on at night after workers have left, workers believed that residual odours from “chemical substances” left behind in the kiln were to blame for yesterday’s fainting, said Phalla.
But Cheav Bunrith, spokesperson for the National Social Security Fund, yesterday dismissed the speculation, insisting that NSSF inspectors concluded that “heat and air circulation were fine” and that “there was no chemical substances to blame”.
Rather, he blamed the incident on a lack of sleep and a psychosomatic response to seeing the first worker faint.
Factory management could not be reached for comment.