Ha Tat Thang, Director of the Labour Safety Department under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, discussed workplace accidents with the Viet Nam Economic Times.
Why is the number of workplace accidents high in Viet Nam despite investments and initiatives to boost labour safety?
Last year, over 6,700 labour accidents were reported nationwide, killing 606 people and causing losses estimated at VND11 billion (US$524,000), not to mention another VND82.6 billion ($3.9 million) in added costs for medical treatment, funerals, compensation and so on.
Although the Government and relevant agencies issued repeated warnings and conducted regular inspections, the number of working accidents has stayed high.
One of the causes is that employers have not attached proper importance to informing employees sufficiently about labour safety issues as also equipping them accordingly.
Notably, over 33 per cent of accidents are the result of the workers' neglect of regulated safe working methods.
We have an adequate legal framework to deal with safety at work. However, law enforcement has not been strong enough for employers to follow the rules strictly.
It is said that only five per cent of the total number of enterprises in the country submit labour safety reports as required. Is there any punishment for enterprises which delay or ignore their responsibility to report?
This fact poses a major difficulty for authorised agencies like ours. Many enterprises and localities have not submitted proper reports (in the proper form) or furnished enough data on occupations, number of workers, number of enterprises in particular localities and so on.
So, it's hard for us to come up with an accurate overview of workplace accidents in the country.
Last year, over 19,300 enterprises, accounting for just 5.1 per cent of the country's total, submitted their reports. In particular, a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises usually ignore their duty.
Will they be punished? If so, how?
In principle, every enterprise, engaged in production or service, has to report on its management of workplace safety and accidents that have taken place.
However, many service establishments do not file reports under the impression that this requirement only applies to production enterprises.
This year, the ministry will take stronger, drastic measures to punish enterprises which don't fulfill this responsibility. They will also be named on mass media.
At present, rural workers and migrants make up a major proportion of the labour force and this group is particularly vulnerable to workplace accidents. Are there any measures to ensure their safety?
This group of workers is usually not mentioned in reports submitted by localities to the ministry. So the ministry carried out a pilot programme to collect data about them at the grassroots level in Quang Nam Province in the centre and Ha Nam Province in the north.
It found that when this group of workers is taken into account, the number of work accidents is much higher than that reported by the localities previously.
The ministry plans to expand the programme nationwide to compile more accurate statistics and come up with a more realistic overview of workplace accidents in the country.
The ministry has recommended that the Government issues regulations relating to people who usually work without signing any labour contract.
At present, due to limited funding and human resources, regulations only cover people working with contracts. — VNS