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Faintings up 39 percent over six-month period

Tien Sung garment factory workers are taken to the hospital after a mass fainting attributed to fumes caused by a fire in the ventilation system in March in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied
Tien Sung garment factory workers are taken to the hospital after a mass fainting attributed to fumes caused by a fire in the ventilation system in March in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Faintings up 39 percent over six-month period

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) said yesterday that incidents of garment workers fainting on the factory floor had increased by 39 percent over the first six months of the year when compared to the same period last year.

The NSSF posted the findings online but did not divulge the exact number of incidents for the first six months, saying only that there was an increase of 117 workers. The report attributed half of these faintings to psychological problems, referring to instances where workers faint upon seeing a colleague collapse, followed by health reasons and inhaling noxious substances.

A 2016 report from the social security body had reported 1,160 faintings that year, down 40 percent from 2015’s figure of 1,806 incidents. NSSF spokesman Cheav Bunrith yesterday declined to answer questions related to the report over the phone.

However, Cambodian Labour Confederation President Ath Thorn said that despite efforts by the government to improve working conditions, incidents of fainting continued to persist.

He linked the high number of faintings to the minimum wage, which he said was still insufficient to allow workers to afford nutritious food, thereby often leaving them weak at the workplace.

“Also, factories are very hot, there are chemical substances around and overcrowding can cause a lack of oxygen,” Thorn said.

He said many factories were not up to international standards and that the government had failed to shut down factories or get them to improve their infrastructure.

Only last week, Neom Somol, a worker at Anful Garment Factory in Kampong Speu, died after fainting while she helped another worker who had fainted get to a medical clinic. Somol hit her head against a wall, causing her to die at the factory.

“She was well and did not have health problems before. She just helped escort the fainted to hospital,” said Somol’s colleague, who asked to remain anonymous.

Somol’s father-in-law, Phuong Khum, said no official complaint had been filed with local authorities, but that the factory initially gave her family two million riel (around $500) and an additional $400 yesterday in compensation.

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