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Insufficient safety gear poses threat to labourers

Update: August, 18/2012 - 09:50
Quality insulated boots manufactured at the Hai Phong Insulating Gear Factory in the northern city of Hai Phong. Customers prefer cheap safety gear despite the poor quality, threatening their own safety at work. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Thu
HA NOI — Much of the safety gear currently on the market is insufficiently labelled, posing a threat to labourers' health, experts have said.

Trieu Quoc Loc, director of the Viet Nam General Confereration of Labour's Labour Safety and Science Centre, told Nong thon Ngay nay (Countryside Today) newspaper that a lot of low-quality safety gear was currently being sold on the market because authorised agencies were not being monitored strictly enough.

Moreover, he said, there were enterprises who used fewer raw materials than regulations specified, resulting in cheap and ultimately unsafe products.

Nguyen Thi Minh, a resident of Ha Noi's Thanh Oai District, said she bought a pair of gloves and rubber boots to do gardening, especially when using chemicals.

However, she admitted that she did not take as much care as she should have in selecting them. Both the gloves and the boots already have holes in them, drastically reducing their effectiveness, she said.

Nguyen Nhat Thanh, who has sold safety gear online for five years, said most of his products were domestically made or imported from mainland China, Taiwan or Singapore. Each type had a different quality and price.

"It's funny that safety products without origin and required technical criteria are my best seller. Customers prefer cheap products, especially factories, which buy on an institutional scale," he said.

Thanh cited insulated gloves as an example. These products typically range between VND185,000 (US$8.8) to VND3.6 million ($172).

"Those who buy hundreds of pairs will surely choose the first one," he said.

A survey of the Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour last year showed that 90 per cent of gear did not meet safety criteria, especially specialised tools such as anti-noise headphones and anti-poison masks.

According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, there were more than 5,900 labour accidents last year, killing 574 and critically injuring 1,314. The number of accidents increased 15 percent and the number of victims increased 16 per cent compared to the previous year.

Labourers who did not wear safety gear or wore substandard gear were the most frequent accident victims. Many victims also did not receive labour safety training, and consequently violated safety regulations.

According to Loc, an amendment of Labour Law scheduled to take effect next year will include strict regulations on labour safety.

He suggested that relevant authorities create policies to develop the industry which produces safety gear and supply the equipment to farmers and fishermen who have financial difficulties and consequently neglect their own safety. — VNS

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