Mass faint­ings strike Cam­bo­dian fac­to­ries

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

PH­NOM PENH: Hun­dreds of work­ers have fainted at Cam­bo­dian fac­to­ries af­ter farm­ers sprayed in­sec­ti­cide on nearby rice fields, au­thor­i­ties said yes­ter­day, in the lat­est mass faint­ing episode to hit the coun­try.

About 250 work­ers vom­ited and fainted on Fri­day morn­ing at six gar­ment fac­to­ries at an eco­nomic zone one hour out­side the cap­i­tal Ph­nom Penh, ac­cord­ing to a re­port cir­cu­lated by Cheav Bun­rith, a spokesman for the Na­tional So­cial Se­cu­rity Fund (NSSF), a gov­ern­ment agency.

The re­port said the in­ci­dent was caused by “poi­son from in­sec­ti­cide farm­ers sprayed at a rice paddy nearby” the fac­to­ries.

The vic­tims were taken to health cen­tres to re­cover. An­other 119 work­ers fainted at a toy fac­tory in the eco­nomic zone on Thurs­day af­ter they in­haled the in­sec­ti­cide, ac­cord­ing to the NSSF. Mass faint­ings at Cam­bo­dian gar­ment fac­to­ries are rel­a­tively com­mon. Ear­lier this month, a Cam­bo­dian gar­ment worker died and 21 oth­ers were hos­pi­talised af­ter they fainted at a Chi­nese-owned fac­tory.

Around 700,000 fac­tory work­ers form the back­bone of the king­dom’s multi-bil­lion dol­lar tex­tile in­dus­try, which sup­plies brands in­clud­ing Gap, Nike and H&M.

Safety wor­ries are rife, with pe­ri­odic mass faint­ing episodes of­ten blamed on poor health, shoddy work­ing con­di­tions, bad ven­ti­la­tion or ex­po­sure to dan­ger­ous chem­i­cals.

Psy­chol­o­gists also say episodes of mass hys­te­ria can be con­ta­gious, with crowds of peo­ple sud­denly feel­ing ill once oth­ers start to show symp­tom­sespe­cially if they work in high-pres­sured en­vi­ron­ments. Last month, Cam­bo­dia said it would raise the min­i­mum monthly wage for gar­ment work­ers to $140 from Jan­uary, an in­crease of nearly 10 per­cent, but which fell short of union de­mands in an in­dus­try be­set by strikes and protests. — AFP

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