More than 100 workers at the JD Toyoma garment factory in Takeo province’s Bati district fainted yesterday morning while working.
Police suspected the cause of the fainting was chemical fumes in the factory, but the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia said the fumes did not originate from within the factory, but entered it from pesticides being sprayed on neighbouring rice fields.
Ngann Sari, the district police chief, said the fainting spell started with just a few workers and then others began fainting en masse until more than 100 cases were recorded.
“The local authority, police and factory officials sent them to health centres nearby for immediate treatment. No one is reported to be seriously ill,” he said, adding that they were dizzy, vomited and were exhausted.
Mr Sari said there were a total of 3,271 workers employed at the factory and those who were not affected by the fainting were given the day off.
“I do not know when they will be back to work,” said Mr Sari, adding that relevant officials from the Labour Ministry will investigate the fainting.
Kaing Monika, deputy secretary general of GMAC, said the fainting was caused by pesticides farmers had sprayed on their rice fields close to the factory.
Mr Monika said the chemicals flowed into the factory, causing workers to faint, a problem he’s seen before in Kampong Cham, Kampong Speu and Svay Rieng provinces.
“Concerned stakeholders and local authorities have joined to curb such issues in order to protect the workers’ health,” he said.
The Ministry of Labour issued a risk protection directive for factories near to rice fields in 2016, which asked local authorities to require farmers to give advance notice to factories when they planned to spray their fields.