The number of garment workers who fainted in 2017 decreased 28 percent if compared with 2016, with 18 factories hit by incidents.
A total of 1,160 workers fainted in 2017, of which 1,159 were women, according to a report from the National Social Security Fund obtained yesterday.
The report added that instances of workers fainting occurred in 18 factories in the capital and eight provinces, including Kandal, Kampong Chhnang, Svay Rieng, Takeo, Kampong Speu, Kampong Cham and Koh Kong.
“Both the number of workers who fainted and factories where it happened decreased from 2016, when 22 factories had incidents and 1,603 workers fainted,” the report said, noting that Kampong Speu and Kandal provinces, along with Phnom Penh, saw the majority of the cases.
The report said the main reasons for workers fainting included pesticides being sprayed on nearby rice fields, strong chemical glues used in footwear factories, steam from boilers, poor environments around the factories, malnutrition, poor ventilation within the workplace, stress and sometimes the belief in supernatural forces.
Last week, Labour Minister Ith Samheng issued 11 guidelines for factory owners to follow in an attempt to reduce the number of workers passing out.
“The Labour Ministry will take strong action through the Labour Law and other regulations against factory owners and directors who abuse these guidelines,” Mr Samheng said, adding that the ministry hoped they would comply with the announcement.
“They must check the environment surrounding the building, both inside and outside the factory, especially before allowing staff to enter to prevent workers from fainting,” he said.
Mr Samheng noted ventilation fans inside the workplace must be operating at least one hour before workers arrive.
In addition, fans must be turned on and all windows and doors must be open when the weather is hot, while airflow must not be restricted at building exits.
He added that all factories must install thermostats and check and maintain fire protection systems to ensure the equipment is functional.
Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said he was glad to learn the number of workers who fainted had decreased, but noted more needs to be done to protect their health.
“Officials have to work harder than last year in order to make the cases of fainting drop even further,” he said.
Mr Sina said that if the Labour Ministry and NSSF did not take strict measures against factories that flout the recently issued guidelines, fainting incidents would continue.
He added that inspections must be carried out to keep the factories in check.
Chek Borin, director of the Kampong Speu labour department, the province hit with the most cases, said yesterday that his officials often inspect factories and will continue to do so.
The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia said it has been working closely with its members to reduce fainting.
“GMAC takes the guidelines seriously and will further disseminate them to our members. While we appreciate the guidelines, GMAC has long been active in this work as a member of the Labour Ministry’s committee for the study and prevention of fainting incidents since 2012,” Kaing Monika, the deputy secretary-general of GMAC, said last week.