Nearly 100 garment workers were hospitalised after they fainted on Tuesday evening at the Senduno Knitting factory in Takeo province’s Bati district, due to pesticides being sprayed on a rice field nearby.
Deputy district governor Hang Vicheka Rasy said yesterday that 86 female workers fainted at the factory that employs 1,650 staff.
“All the workers that fainted have recovered now and most of them have left Bati referral hospital after receiving treatment,” he said. “There are only 20 workers at the hospital now.”
Mr Rasy said he had not officially confirmed the cause of the fainting, but noted pesticides being sprayed on a rice field nearby may have seeped into the factory and caused the incident.
“The committee for fainting research and prevention is investigating the case,” he said.
Kandung commune chief Srey Sambo said yesterday that the incident took place at about 4pm on Tuesday, when he received a phone call from the factory informing him of the sick workers.
Mr Sambo said he then went to visit the factory and saw farmers were spraying pesticides on their rice fields nearby.
“I went down to stop the farmers from spraying because it was affecting the workers,” he said.
Mr Sambo said a foul smell from the pesticides entered the factory at about 3.45pm, when factory managers allowed workers to exit their workplace.
But on the way out of the factory, workers began to faint, he said.
“We called ambulances to take them to the hospital for treatment and they are better now,” Mr Sambo said, noting the rice fields were only about 20 to 30 metres away from the factory.
Mr Sambo added that he informed farmers nearby the factory to tell local authorities in advance of spraying their fields in the future.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Labour issued guidelines for factory owners to prevent faintings.
“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. The National Social Security Fund reported the number of workers who fainted in 2017 decreased 28 percent when compared with 2016. A total of 1,160 workers fainted in 2017.