Around 300 workers fell sick at an H&M factory in Kompong Chhnang, Cambodia, last week, reportedly while making shirts for the Swedish retailer. Workers allegedly smelled something bad coming from the shirts, and began fainting. After the incident, the plant sent its 4,000 workers home to rest and closed for the remainder of the week. But that hasn’t stopped local authorities from blaming the incident on the “weak” workers, though fair labor advocates believe that it’s more likely the cause of poor ventilation, exposure to chemicals and exhaustion.
This isn’t the first sweatshop-related fainting incident. Labor organizations say there have been more than a thousand reported occurrences of fainting in the past year. Even when chemicals aren’t the root cause, long hours, exhaustion and malnutrition are often to blame. H&M says they are investigating the incident with help from the U.N. International Labor Organization, but had “not found any plausible causes so far.” [Reuters]