Over 1,500 Cambodian workers faint this year due to poor working environment

Updated: 2011-12-09 11:44:00

(Xinhua)

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PHNOM PENH, December 9 (Xinhua) -- More than 1,500 Cambodian workers in garment and shoe factories have fainted within this year due mainly to overwork, poor health, exposure to chemical substances, and hysteria, said a senior government official on Friday.

"Fainting incidents started occurring often and repeatedly this year," Say Siphonn, secretary of state for the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, said in a meeting on findings the fact of the mass fainting in garment and shoe factories.

"More than 1,500 workers in a dozen of garment and footwear factories had fainted so far this year," he said."Mass fainting incident is case that can affect our garment industry which is the country's largest income earner."

The causes of incidents included more hours of over-time working, chemical substances in cloths, smell of insecticides, heat, bad working environment, workers' malnutrition, and panic, he added.

The meeting, organized by the International Labor Organization (ILO), was attended by stakeholders from the Ministry of  Labour and Vocational Training, Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, Garment Manufacturers  Association in Cambodia (GMAC), buyers' representatives, unions, and non- governmental organizations.

"It is an important meeting to discuss and find ways to prevent such incidents in the future," said Siphonn.

The latest mass fainting happened on December 8 at Sportex Industry factory in Phnom Penh's Russey Keo district. Some 59  garment workers fell ill after a fire alarm went off and sent workers in to a frenzy of mass hysteria.

Garment industry represented more than 90 percent of Cambodia' s total exports. By August this year, the country has 291 garment and textile factories with 324,800 workers, and 39 foot-wear factories with 63,600 employees, according to the reports  of the Ministry of Commerce.