Forty-five workers of the Kingmaker shoe factory in Svay Rieng province fainted simultaneously on Tuesday afternoon and were rushed to hospitals for treatment.
The following day, a joint committee of the Svay Rieng Provincial Department of Labour and Svay Rieng Provincial Department of Health inspected the factory to ascertain the cause of the fainting.
However, speaking to The Post on Wednesday, Orn Sakhorn, the vice-president of the Voice Khmer Youth Union Federation at the factory said: “On December 21, a worker in this same factory fainted in the afternoon and died on the way to the hospital.”
He said the latest fainting incident did not cause any loss of life, but the official reason for the mass fainting is unknown.
“I believe it might have resulted from the stuffy environment in the factory coupled with the smell of shoe glue and workers not having enough to eat. This may have weakened their physical and mental health,” Sakhorn said.
Confirming the worker’s death, Kingmaker’s administrative manager Phin Sotha confirmed that 45 workers fainted on Tuesday afternoon and that the incident happened soon after the lone worker fainted and died on the way to the hospital. However, she was unaware of the cause of death.
Sotha said: “The two incidents occurred, but I don’t know the cause. The technical officials of the Provincial Department of Labour and Provincial Department of Health are inspecting our factory to investigate.”
Collective Union of Movement of Workers president Pav Sina said that generally, factories tried to hide information that involved occupational safety, such as fainting or the death of workers, as they wished to keep such incidents from the union working groups.
“We tried to contact the factory for information on the cause of the fainting and the case of the worker who died several days ago, but it tried to hide the matter as it did not want its buyers to become aware of the incidents,” he said.
The deputy director of the Svay Rieng Provincial Department of Labour and Vocational Training, Ou Sakhoeun, told The Post on Wednesday that technical officials from his and the Health departments were working on the case.
The technical officials will liaise with those at the national level to inspect standards at the factory and probe what caused the workers to faint.
“This factory has had workers fainting within days. A worker named Va Sophat fainted during working hours and died on the way to Chiphou hospital.
“Initially, our working group found that this factory is spacious, but the environment is a little hot and stuffy and smelled of shoe glue,” Sakhoeun said.
Ke Ratha, the director of the Svay Rieng Provincial Department of Health, told The Post: “The smell of glue and the stuffy environment in the factory may have caused oxygen deficiency.
“The workers may have had breathing difficulties. This, coupled with their weak health and low spirits, may have contributed to them subsequently fainting. But this is just an initial assessment by our technical officials and is not our conclusion.”
Ratha said technical officials from the national and joint provincial committees are continuing to investigate the case and had visited workers directly at the hospital.