Sixty-nine footwear workers who fainted at the Wing Star Shoes II Factory in Kampong Speu province’s Kong Pisei district were sent to health centres on Thursday, with many citing the strong smell of glue as the cause.
District police chief Khem Sophanra said more than 60 workers had fainted on Thursday morning. He then led officers to the scene to facilitate traffic and ensure security in the factory compound.
The workers were sent to separate locations for treatment, including Chea Sokhim Clinic, the provincial referral hospital, Tram Khnar Health Center and Moul Mith Clinic.
“I don’t know for sure what caused the fainting, as that’s not my role, but the workers told me it was the smell of glue from the shoes,” he said.
A female worker who asked not to be named said she was working as usual before the incident, but moments later, she smelled a strong odour from the glue used to make the shoes.
“After I smelt it, I wanted to vomit and had a headache and then I passed out,” she said.
Collective Union of Movement of Workers president Pav Sina said a total of 69 workers fainted at the factory. “We have not yet ascertained the cause,” he said.
Regarding a solution to the problem, he told the relevant parties to do whatever they can to allow specialists from the Ministry of Labour to visit and ascertain the cause of the fainting as soon as possible.
“There are lots of information going around that relates to Covid-19, so we don’t want to have rumours about the fainting turning into something else,” Sina said.
He also said the environment of factories in Cambodia still needs improvement but noted that the Wing Star Shoes II factory did not seem to be one of the sub-standard factories he has come across in the Kingdom as it has high ceilings and plenty of windows for ventilation.
Nonetheless, he said reports of the glue or other chemicals leading to the fainting could still be accurate.
Neither the factory’s management nor Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour could be reached for comment on Thursday.