Hundreds of people working at six different factories in Kandal province’s 7NG Special Economic Zone fainted on Friday, with most blaming a pesticide that was believed to have caused a separate mass-fainting incident in the area a day earlier.
Un Yong, Khsach Kandal district’s deputy police chief, said about 300 workers fainted on Friday morning and were taken immediately to hospital.
“At that time, hundreds more workers tried to leave the factory and go back to their homes,” he said, explaining that it was difficult to know the exact number of those who fainted.
“The workers who fainted were not seriously ill.”
The incident came just one day after 119 mainly female workers fainted at the economic zone’s PPNP Soya Toy factory. Officials blamed that mass-fainting on a farmer who had been spraying pesticide on his crops.
But Yong said he doubted that the pesticide itself had caused Friday’s faintings.
“Other farmers, food vendors and the officials who were at the scene did not smell the pesticide or any other bad smelling toxin; only the workers could,” he said.
“We think the fainting happened because they were feeling scared” because of what happened on Thursday.
“We told the farmer who sprayed the pesticide on Thursday that made more than 100 workers faint that he has to inform the local authorities and factories before spraying it again. He agreed,” Yong said.
But Cheav Bunrith, spokesman for the National Social Security Fund, said he thought the effects of the toxic chemical were still being felt on Friday morning.
“At about 8:50am on Friday, at least 250 workers fainted because of the pesticide that the farmer sprayed onto his crops near the factory,” he said.
He added that workers from six factories – including Indochine Apparel; Dream Toy International; Starlight Apparel Manufacturing and Cambo Unisoll – had experienced dizziness, vomiting and fainting.
Joel Preston, a consultant with the Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC), said factories regularly send people back to work immediately after a mass fainting incident only for it to happen again.
He added that CLEC had received unconfirmed reports of more faintings in the area on Saturday.
A Ministry of Labour official said yesterday that more than 1,000 people have fainted so far this year in around 20 factories across the country.
Additional reporting by Alice Cuddy