More than 40 workers had fainted at a garment factory yesterday after officials prevented them leaving the building when four of their co-workers collapsed, a labour department official said.
The mass fainting occurred at the Nanguo Garment Co Ltd factory in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nub district, where more than 200 workers fainted less than a month ago.
Yov Khemara, provincial director of the Ministry of Labour, said initial investigations suggested 45 women and one man had fainted because of a lack of oxygen.
“After the previous fainting, the factory has not really improved its ventilation,” Yov Khemara said.
“There is not enough air to breathe. So it caused the heat to increase. Their fear also contributed to the fainting.”
About four female workers had fainted in the morning, causing their bodies to convulse and sending their co-workers, who feared the souls of ghosts had entered their bodies, into a frenzy, Yov Khemara said.
Officials had prevented workers from leaving because they feared they would not return, he said.
About 40 more hungry and fatigued women fainted about midday and were taken to hospital.
Preah Sihanouk provincial police chief Tak Vanntha said a strong odour from freshly cut fabric had caused the fainting.
Ly Dy, provincial monitor for the Free Trade Union, said the factory should not have prevented workers leaving.
Factory officials could not be reached for comment.
Maeve Galvin, a consultant at the International Labour Organisation’s Better Factories Cambodia, said studies had shown mass factory faintings in recent months were the result of several factors.
“It’s a combination of heat stress, poor nutrition, and there is a psychogenic component, usually beginning with one person having fainting symptoms.
“Structural changes need to be made. Because it’s a psychogenic condition that is contributing, it is very real and shouldn’t be confused with something psychological. So it’s important for factories to have a procedure and a drill.”