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Fishers lack training on work safety

Update: November, 06/2015 - 09:21
Borderguard force saves fishermen in the sea of the central Quang Tri Province. Vietnamese fishers do difficult and dangerous work but are often unaware of how to prevent work accidents or protect themselves. — Photo vov.vn

HA NOI (VNS) — Vietnamese fishers do difficult and dangerous work but are often unaware of how to prevent work accidents or protect themselves, doctors and authorities from coastal provinces told the Nong Thon Ngay Nay (Countryside Today) newspaper.

Tran Van Hung, a doctor from the Hoang Hoa District Hospital in the central province of Thanh Hoa, said that fishing is hard work. Ship space is cramped and narrow, and the non-stop work can cause eye diseases, aches and pains, rheumatism, joint diseases and coughing.

Tang Van Phien, director of the Van Chai-Ha Long Co-operative in Quang Ninh Province, said that the co-operative only offers training courses for preventing accidents in row boats, but does not offer work safety or fire prevention and control training.

"They are at a disadvantage because they do not receive any support to protect their lives or property," he said.

Off the coast of the province's Quang Yen Town, Nguyen Van Chung, 52, lives and works on his ship.

"When facing storms or typhoons, we rely on our experience to save ourselves," he said since they never received any work safety training. Not only that, he said many ships also went out to sea without any life buoys or first aid and medicine.

Chung still trembles when he recalls the typhoon of 1983. A whirlwind came suddenly forcing each member in Chung's family to hold onto a plastic can and jump into the sea. They bobbed along with the choppy water until they were finally saved by a passing ship.

"We were lucky that it was not in winter, otherwise we would have died from the cold," he said.

Like Chung, Tran Van Tan, 44, lives in Ha Long City and worries about living on the sea.

Labourers who go out to sea cannot help it if they fall ill on the sea, he said, but ships only stock simple flu medicines. If someone becomes seriously ill, they must go inland for treatment, said Tan.

"Sometimes they had serious accidents, breaking arms or legs, but we did not have enough medicine or tools—we only knew to pray the Buddha," he said.

Just this past September, 11 seamen on a fishing boat off Con Dao Island died. The ship's gas tank used for cooking exploded. The ship lacked life buoys and fire extinguishers.

Nguyen Thanh Tam, deputy director of the Quang Ninh Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said that the seamen did not take necessary precautions before going out to sea, such as thoroughly checking their equipment.

He said they were never trained in boat safety, and relevant local authorities didn't even have plans to check work safety standards on the fishing boats. — VNS

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