More than 2,000 garment workers have fainted so far this year in 16 factories across the Kingdom, a jump of more than 400 when compared to last year’s figures despite efforts by the government to improve factory conditions.
Pok Vanthat, chairman of the Labour Ministry’s fainting research and prevention committee, on Tuesday said a total of 2,055 workers have fainted in 16 factories so far this year. Last year, a total of 1,603 garment workers fainted in 22 factories.
Mr Vanthat said fainting incidents are attributed to the health of workers, chemicals used in garment factories, social problems, fear and high factory temperatures, among others.
“The Labour Ministry has issued announcements, directives and created regulations so garment factory owners improve working conditions,” he said. “If they fail to comply, fainting incidents will keep happening.”
“I want to call on all garment workers to take care of their health and get enough rest,” Mr Vanthat added. “If you are not well, please see a doctor – don’t wait until you’ve fainted.”
Earlier this year, the Labour Ministry’s National Committee for Health and Work Safety was created in order to address the issue of working conditions.
According to a report by the National Social Security Fund, the main reasons why workers faint are pesticides used in nearby rice fields, strong chemical glues used in the production of footwear, steam from boilers, poor environments near factories, malnutrition, poor ventilation, stress and even the belief in supernatural forces.
The Labour Ministry has also issued an 11-point guideline for factory owners to follow in an attempt to reduce the number of workers passing out.
The points include: ensuring a safe environment, providing ventilation fans, opening windows to ensure flow of air, installing thermostats and maintaining firefighting systems.
Far Saly, president of the National Trade Unions Coalition, said yesterday that his organisation is concerned about the safety of garment workers.
Mr Saly said companies and the government must pay close attention to the need of garment factory workers.
“Hot weather, unsuitable working conditions, lacking calcium and lacking proper eating places can affect the health of workers,” Mr Saly said, adding that the Labour Ministry should continue to push for safety measures to ensure that workers do not faint.
Despite an increase in fainting workers this year, Better Factories Cambodia found that more and more factories in the country are complying with its standards when dealing with critical worker issues.
These critical issues include child labour, discrimination, forced labour and freedom of association.
In an annual report published earlier this month, BFC highlighted survey findings conducted at 464 factories from May 2017 until June of this year.
It found that compliance of factories had increased from 33 percent last year to 44 percent this year after it introduced public reporting in 2014.
The report noted that incidents of underage workers in the garment sector had declined from 74 cases in 2014 to just ten cases during the latest report period.
Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour at the time of the publication of the report said the government will continue to promote the rights of garment workers.
“The ministry will increase inspection of factories that violate the rights of workers and fine them for not obeying the law,” Mr Sour said. “We will have our working group take care of them so that the country’s garment sector can be better.”