The view was shared by experts at a March 14-15 workshop in Hanoi entitled “Strengthening national occupational safety and health system in hazardous work.”
“It’s time to take action now or it will be too late,” said Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) Bui Hong Linh.
According to the MOLISA, 606 workers died in work-related accidents in Vietnam last year, almost 10 percent increase from 2011. Nearly 6,800 occupational accidents occurred in 2012, resulting in a property loss of US$524,000 and US$3.95 million in compensation.
But the reported cases in Vietnam are “incomplete”, said Linh, putting the actual number of occupational accidents per year at around 40,000. Mining, construction and chemical industry topped the list of sectors with the most occupational accidents and fatal cases.
“Unsafe work conditions in these industries have been causing lots of risks that lead to occupational accidents and diseases,”, said ILO National Project Coordinator for occupational safety and health Nguyen Thai Hoa.
“It’s worrying that both work accidents and diseases in the industries, particularly mining and construction, tend to increase with a more severe impact”.
As most work accidents are traced back to human error, ILO Vietnam Country Director Gyorgy Sziraczki said Vietnam should go beyond workplaces to create increased awareness of occupational safety and health.
“We must reach out to families, communities and schools where our greatest assets – young people – learn and prepare for work”, he said.
The ILO reported that every 15 seconds, 160 workers have a work-related accident and a worker dies from accident or disease globally.
The human cost of this daily adversity is vast and the economic burden of poor occupational safety and health practices is estimated at 4 percent of global Gross Domestic Product each year.
The Japanese Government and the ILO have been carrying out a 2012-2015 project in Vietnam in an attempt to improve the situation in its hazardous industries.