10:27 | 16/07/2019

Employers and unions need to tackle workplace safety

Recognising the importance of workplace safety, more and more businesses in Ho Chi Minh City have begun to invest in modern equipment and increased budgets for labour safety programmes.


Illustrative image (Photo: VNA)

Dai Dung Metallic Manufacture Construction and Trade Company Limited is such an example.

Although a normal working day at the factory starts at 7:30, workers are requested to be present 20 minutes in advance to change clothes, put on the right safety equipment and do morning exercises before entering the construction site. At the entrance gate, staff from the security force and the Labour Safety Division check whether the workers have the proper entry and exit cards for each area – cards that certify they have completed the necessary occupational safety training courses.

Nguyen Van Hung, Chairman of the Dai Dung Company’s Trade Union, said workers' compliance with labour safety regulations and the tight supervision of the Labour Safety Division had helped the company achieve millions of safe working hours, raising the company's efficiency and prestige among its foreign and domestic partners.

The HCM City Export Processing and Industrial Zones Authority (HEPZA) has also adopted measures to ensure labour safety and prevent workplace fires.

According to Huynh Van Tuan, head of the HCM City Export Processing and Industrial Zones, a number of enterprises have been equipped with modern technology and have purchased equipment to meet regional and international safety standards. HEPZA has also co-ordinated with fire-fighting forces to organise training to improve knowledge of safe workplace practices among workers. On-site inspections have also been increased, particularly in areas with high risk.

Nguyen Quoc Viet, head of the Employment and Labour Safety Division under HCM City’s Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said far fewer accidents would happen if employers and workers complied with labour safety rules and safety equipment was regularly maintained.

“In any circumstance, being cautious and ensuring labour safety is always the best solution and should be prioritised in the manufacturing process,” he said.

Challenges

Over the last few years, HCM City has had more work-related accidents than anywhere else in Vietnam.

More than 1,200 accidents were reported in the city last year with a total of 1,300 casualties, including 101 deaths.

Statistics from the HCM City Institute of Science of Occupational Safety and Health showed that work-related accidents were most common in the field of construction, followed by industrial manufacturing, trade, service and education.

Occupational accidents often happened on civil construction projects or in the course of construction carried out by private contractors that are not qualified and fail to comply with safety and hygiene regulations.

On November 22 last year, in a common type of workplace accident, one person was killed and another injured when scaffolding collapsed at a building under construction in HCM City’s District 1. Two days earlier, 25 students from a primary school in Binh Chanh district were injured in similar collapse.

Huynh Kim Hoang, Deputy Director of the HCM City Institute of Science of Occupational Safety and Health, said employers were to blame for 61.7 per cent of workplace accidents. In many cases, employers failed to set up labour safety practices or did not provide workers with adequate training or safety equipment, he said.

Labourers were also to blame for a small number of the accidents – just for 8.8 per cent, Hoang said. In these cases, the workers had violated labour safety procedures or failed to use the provided protective equipment.

A number of accidents occurred due to stress from work, poor worker health or a failure to pay attention, he said.

Solutions

To reduce the number of work-related accidents, Hoang said it was necessary to take a number of steps including improving working conditions and clarifying the responsibilities of workers and employers.

"Ensuring safe working environments is crucial in preventing accidents and enhancing businesses' competitiveness," he said.

Nguyen Thanh Lam, Chairman of Trade Union of Tico Joint Stock Company in Tan Phu district, said it was important for workers to comply with rules regulating the use of protecting equipment. They must understand that the safety equipment is there to protect them and their colleagues. In addition, employers must provide the proper equipment for each task.

Enterprises should increase supervision of labourers through camera systems and provide more training in labour safety, fire prevention and fire fighting, he said.

Kieu Ngoc Vu, Vice Chairman of the HCM City Trade Union, said employers, trade unions and employees should identify potential risks in workplaces.

Enterprises should be supported to establish safety procedures and their compliance should be monitored with spot checks, he said.

“Labour safety and hygiene are not only slogans and banners for the action month, but need to be deployed regularly, in each field and industry with practical and effective actions,” Vu said.

“Labour safety must come from the awareness of employers, trade unions and workers and units should work with them to prevent work-related accidents," he said.

VNA

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