Hot weather and poor working conditions caused mass fainting among factory workers in a bag production facility in Takeo province on February 8, according to officials.
Deputy provincial governor Ly Saveth told The Post that upon discovery at midday, workers at Hathor International (Cambodia) in Chom Pol village of Tram Kak district’s Popel commune were assisted by a team of people including the medical team of the Ang Roka Referral Hospital, the provincial National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and the local authorities.
The 81 workers who had fainted were sent to Ang Roka Referral Hospital for treatment.
Saveth said that in his visit to the factory after the incident, palettes of finished product were found to be blocking the entrance of the building, causing a disruption in air circulation and hot air to be trapped in the middle of the facility – the likely cause of the mass fainting spell.
Several fans were also found to be damaged.
“This is preliminary information that is being investigated by the factory and we are asking for more information and inspections,” he said.
Nonetheless, he cited the early summer weather this year as causing additional problems for factory workers.
“Usually we start the inspection in late February or early March because every year, most of the workers faint in March, April and May, which are the hot months,” he said.
According to Saveth, the Committee of Teamwork for Prevention of Workers’ Faintness and Work Injury (TPWFWI) arrived at the factory at around 2:30 pm to review and make additional recommendations to the management in order to avoid more such mass fainting episodes.
Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, suggested that the problem of workers fainting is recurring as a direct result of factory owners’ negligence.
“It could be because our inspectors are lax, while some companies and factories do not follow the law, which neglects workers and downplays risks,” he said.
Thorn urged professional institutions to strengthen and step up their inspections of factories.
He noted that frequent fainting spells may cause long-term damage to workers’ health.
Thorn also warned companies that such incidences could be harmful to their reputation, and may lead customers to reconsider purchases or stage boycotts.
Mass fainting is a regular phenomenon in Cambodian factories. According to a report by TPWFWI, there were three incidences of mass fainting in 2021 involving 38 factory workers. Each of these cases followed a pattern of one or two workers initially fainting, leading to a cascading series of workers fainting one after another.
In their report, TPWFWI identified heat exhaustion and working overtime as being the main causes of fainting among factory workers.