The Labour Ministry’s National Committee for Health and Work Safety held its first meeting yesterday pledging to investigate the reasons for faintings amongst factory workers.
Labour Minister Ith Samheng, who is also the chairman of the committee, told reporters after the meeting that the ministry and stakeholders had agreed to prevent fainting, in line with recommendations from Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“The committee includes the government, employers and unions. We also invited relevant parties from the World Health Organisation and the International Labour Organisation’s Better Factories Cambodia programme,” Mr Samheng said.
He said the committee would try to reduce fainting among workers to as little as possible, or eradicate it completely. “We will create a regulation for relevant institutes to follow in order to stop fainting and we will educate our workers about the issue,” Mr Samheng said.
Last week, the Prime Minister called for an investigation into why workers continue to faint en masse in factories.
“We should expand our investigations into the phenomenon of people fainting,” said Mr Hun Sen. “We should study this phenomenon to find a solution.”
The number of garment workers who fainted in 2017 increased 38 percent if compared with 2016, with 22 factories hit by fainting incidents.
A total of 1,603 workers fainted in 2017, of which 1,599 were women, according to a report from the National Social Security Fund.
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.
Mr Samheng added that committee officials would attend factories where fainting cases happened.
Tun Sophorn, ILO’s national coordinator, said his organisation was cooperating with the ministry, employers and workers in the garment sector to prevent fainting.
He said ILO was studying the causes of fainting in order to educate workers.
“The main things that can be done to prevent fainting is making sure that workers are getting good nutrition, ventilating the workplace, keeping factory temperatures down and reducing chemical exposure,” Mr Sophorn said.
He added that workers travelling on overcrowded trucks were also at risk of fainting.
Mr Samheng warned factory owners around the country that they would face legal action if large groups of workers fainted during working hours.