As it turns out, our low-priced favorites from H&M come at a really high cost. Almost 300 workers at one of the Swedish fast-fashion chain’s Cambodian factories fell ill this week, fainting after a pungent smell coming from a batch of clothes they were working on overwhelmed them. And this isn’t the first time it’s happened.
Reuters reports that a total of 284 people working at M&V International Manufacturing Ltd. factory in Kompong Chhnang province had to be sent home after they collapsed. On Tuesday 86 workers got sick from the fumes, and on Thursday another 198 of their coworkers got sick, too.
H&M has been working with the government and local authorities to figure out the cause of the mass fainting spell, which echoes a similar incident that happened just last month. Nearly 300 workers in an H&M factory in Phonm Penh, almost 100 miles away from the Kompong Chhnang factory, took ill in July, and no one can seem to explain why they took ill, either. Per Reuters:
H&M said it was investigating the faintings and said the government, local authorities and the U.N.’s International Labour Organization had “not found any plausible causes so far.”
“The root cause of the mass faintings is difficult to establish,” Hcan Andersson, a H&M spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.
These aren’t the only instances of H&M’s factories doing harm to its own workers — just last year, an H&M factory in Bangladesh caught fire, killing 21 workers.
While no one in the Cambodian factories has suffered that fate yet, but one of the workers said that if things don’t chance, it won’t be long before that happens.
“In the beginning, the smell was fine but after years, workers can’t take anymore,” said Norn Leakhena of the M&V factory.