2014 Volume 52 Issue 6 Pages 457-460
In December 2010, the Prime Minister of Vietnam issued Decision No. 2010 / QD-TTg which approved the National Programme on occupational safety and health (OSH) between 2011 and 2015. This is intended to improve working conditions, reduce pollution in the working environment, prevent occupational accidents and occupational diseases, provide health care for workers, raise awareness, ensure compliance with Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) laws; and to protect physical safety and the life of workers, assets of the State, of business and of the organization; all of which will contribute to the sustainable development of the country.
The draft Socio-Economic Development Strategy (SEDS) for period 2011–2020 states that “to ensure the harmonious industrial relations; to improve working environment and conditions”; “to develop strongly and diversely insurance systems including social insurance, unemployment insurance, insurance for occupational accidents and occupational diseases...”.
The draft political report submitted to the XI Party Congress clearly proposes that “to pay special attention to labour protection, improvement of working conditions and prevention of occupational accidents”; and “to study, supplement and improve policies on labour protection, social insurance, maternity leave and other benefits for female workers”.
Under the support of the Programme in the period 2006–2010, Viet Nam has made positive progress and significant achievements in improving work conditions and ensuring safety, life and health for workers, developing the production, creating favourable conditions for international cooperation and integration. However, we have been facing with a lot of difficulties and shortcomings in OSH which must be addressed, particularly in the enforcement of regulations on prevention of occupational accidents and occupational diseases. The frequency rate of occupational accidents, the new incidence of occupational diseases have been reduced but not settled down. The number of serious and fatal occupational accidents, number of new cases with occupational diseases and environment pollution keeps growing and seems to be difficult to control, especially in agricultural production, craft villages, cooperative, private households, non-state owned SMEs. This causes the great loss to the economy. The expenses paid by insurance agencies for workers with occupational accidents and occupational diseases is more than 150 billion VND per year.
Viet Nam has ratified the ILO Convention No. 155 on OSH and working environment (1981). The Convention stipulates that the ratified countries are responsible for developing and implementing policies and national programmes on OSH, ensuring the improved working conditions with an aim to prevent accidents and injuries at workplaces.
The ILO passed the Convention No. 187 on Promotional Framework on Safety and Health on 31st May, 2006. The Convention recommended that member countries should develop national policies and programmes on OSH. In the Action Plan of 2010–2016 adopted by ILO at the 307th session, there are many contents to support and promote the implementation of National Program on OSH and the compliance with Convention No. 155 and Convention No. 187.
In the Action Plan of 2010–2015 adopted at the ASEAN Labour Minister’s Conference dated May 24th 2010, there was a commitment for further cooperation on the National OSH programme.
In the period of 2011–2015, occupational accidents and occupational diseases tend to increase sharply over the period 2006–2010 for the following reasons:
- The rapid growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with backward technology and equipment and little attention paid to OSH;
- The import and application of new machines, equipment, technology and materials will bring more unforeseen risks of OSH because structure and the form of machines may not fit with height and health of Vietnamese workers as well as their capability of mastering the new technology;
- The strong growth of mining industry, construction and engineering is placing an increase of risks of safety, health and working environment pollution;
- The labour force is increasing with more than 1 new million per year; along with a large shift from agricultural area to industrial field without qualifications and professional skills contribute to increasing the risk of occupational accidents and occupational diseases.
- During the equalization and privatization process, enterprises have to face with managmenent issues. This is one of the reasons making the labour protection more challenging and difficult, especially in the management, enforcement of laws and legal policies.
- The number of workers in agriculture, forestry and fishery accounts for 52.62% of total labour force in the country. During the process of industrialization in agricultural production and rural areas, farmers have been facing with lots of occupational accidents and poisoning of plant protection chemicals due to use of agriculture machines, equipment, chemical fertilizers, plant protection chemicals… etc., while there is no officials in charge of labour protection at commune level.
Besides, the international economic integration requires the Corporate Social responsibility (CSR) performance in related to OSH. This is the big challenge for enterprises working in export activities. In addition, the financial crisis and global economic downturn have certain impacts to the economic development in Viet Nam.
Based on the survey conducted in 2009 and the forecast in period from 2010 to 2015, there are around 170,000 people who suffer from occupational accidents, of which 1,700 fatalities and number of new cases with occupational diseases will be increasing by more than 1,000 annually, causing the loss of over 2,000 billion VND per year.
From the current situation and the forecast of occupational accidents and occupational diseases in the coming years, the following urgent issues should be addressed during the period 2011–2015:
- To prevent the increase in occupational accidents, especially serious and fatal accidents in construction, mining, metal production, coal mining, chemical production, electricity use, use of machines, equipment and substances with strict requirements on OSH.
- To monitor the pollution of working environment, gradually improve working conditions, build the safety culture and raise the CSR performance, particularly enterprises operating in the export sector.
- To raise awareness of employers and workers, particularly in craft villages, agricultural areas, in SMEs about OSH in associated with environmental protection, public health, employment and sustainable development.
Based on above results and lessons learned in the implementation of the Programme period 2006–2010, the development and implementation of the 2nd OSH Programme period 2011–2015 is essential to sustain and promote further outcomes gained by the first Programme, contributing positively to environment protection and sustainable development of the country.
While the whole economy of Vietnam has been in difficult time recently, funding the 35 million dollars program shows a great interest of Vietnam government in this field. Many effective practical systems and specific missions have been carrying out in the National Programme on Occupational Safety, Occupational Health during 2011–2015 of Viet Nam (Appendix 1).
The frequency rate of fatal accident declined from 6.49/100,000 (increased by 18% compared with 2010) in 2011 to 5.07/100,000 in 2012 (decreased by 21% compared with 2011) because of the impact of this programme. It is expected that the frequency rate of fatal accident in 2013 will be fell by 6%.
In the field of taking care of workers’ health, the number of units/establishments in 2012 which monitored the work environment were over 31,500, increased by 5% (compared with 2011). Moreover, the number of workers examined medical check-ups to detect occupational disease reached 119,072 cases, increased by 100% from 2011 to 2012.
Furthermore, the program annually provided OSH training for over 60,000 workers working in occupations and jobs with strict OSH requirements, over 52,000 people working in hard, hazardous, dangerous jobs and over 40,000 OSH officials working in enterprises and units.
The objectives of this program in 2014 are to decrease by 3% in the frequency rate of fatal accident in the high potential risk industries of coal, stone, ore mining; attempt to gain more 150,000 small and medium enterprises applying effectively OSH management systems; provide OSH training for over 20,000 people working in occupations and jobs with strict OSH requirements and 20,000 OSH officials working in enterprises.
In order to fulfill these above objectives in 2014, the main actions of this program will focus on amending and supplementing OSH regulation and implementing training, consultancy and support to prevent occupational accidents and diseases by applying OSH management systems and personal protective equipment, consulting to improve working environment in enterprises. Moreover, OSH propagandas and educations will be giving attentively to people working in occupations and jobs with strict OSH requirements, in hard, hazardous, dangerous jobs and in craft villages, agriculture sectors in order to gradually build up the safety culture in enterprises.