Nearly 40 workers at a shoe factory in Kampong Speu province’s Samrong Tong district fainted yesterday morning after a worker fell unconscious due to exhaustion as she stood in line to enter the factory.
Cheav Bunrith, spokesman for the National Social Security Fund, said that 34 workers fainted at the New ATT Shoe Making factory after a female worker had fainted, causing many others to fall unconscious.
“The reason 34 workers fainted is because of their agitated fear when they saw a worker faint,” Mr Bunrith said. “First, a few workers started to faint, but by 8.30am, the number of workers who fainted reached 34.”
Mr Bunrith said the victims were immediately admitted to private clinics and other workers were allowed to take the day off.
Path Song, a bureau chief with the provincial labour department, said yesterday evening that the reason the workers fainted was because of the smell of the glue used in the construction of the shoes.
“The Labour Ministry’s fainting research and prevention committee and relevant officials are still meeting over the fainting, so we do not have detailed information yet,” he said, noting that the committee will decide on measures to be taken against the company.
“Our working group in the meeting has not yet come back to the office,” he added.
Chek Borin, director of the provincial labour department, could not be reached for comment.
A report by Samrong Tong district military police stated that the factory employs 551 workers, of which 501 are female, and noted that all 34 workers who fainted were female.
Last month, the Labour Ministry created a technical working group to study and investigate what causes fainting in an attempt to reduce episodes at factories nationwide.
Labour Minister Ith Samheng, who is also chairman of the National Committee for Health and Work Safety, said the working group is comprised of 32 stakeholders from the Labour Ministry, Health Ministry, National Social Security Fund, hospital officials and the International Labour Organisation.
After the first meeting of the National Committee for Health and Work Safety, Mr Samheng told reporters that the ministry and stakeholders had agreed to prevent fainting, in line with recommendations from Prime Minister Hun Sen.
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.
The week before, Mr Hun Sen had called for an investigation into why workers continued to faint en masse in factories.
“We should expand our investigations into the phenomenon of people fainting,” he said. “We should study this phenomenon to find a solution.”
A recent NSSF report stated that the number of garment workers who fainted in 2017 increased 38 percent 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.