HCM CITY (VNS)— Poor working conditions in many small- and medium-sized enterprises have affected workers' health, a survey conducted between 2000 and 2012 has found.
At least 237 facilities were surveyed during that period. Most of them were in the textile, footwear, mechanics and food-processing fields.
The survey was conducted by the Centre for Consultancy and Transfer of Occupational Safety Health and Environmental Protection Technology in the South of Viet Nam.
The centre found that most of the companies were using outdated technology and equipment.
Modern technology was in use at only 10 per cent of the companies surveyed, according to Dr Dang Thi Thao of the centre, who conducted the survey.
Capital shortage is the chief reason for the lack of proper or modern equipment.
The use of outdated technology has led to a high risk of occupational diseases.
Nearly 74 per cent of all the factories have poorly constructed walls and metal roofs, leading to temperatures that exceed the standard by one to eight degrees Celsius.
In addition, most enterprises have neglected to have proper ventilation in their facilities, according to Thao.
The standard maximum temperature is 32 degrees Celsius and the speed of wind 1.5 metre per second. Humidity of no more than 81.8 per cent is considered standard.
Most of the facilities have a wind speed of about 0.2 m/s and temperatures as high as 40 degrees Celsius. About 42 per cent of the factories have small and unhygienic areas.
Nearly 60 per cent of them do not have notice signs on labour safety, and 39 per cent have an unsafe electricity network.
Of the surveyed facilities, 81 per cent have no labour-protection plan and nearly 61 per cent had not signed a contract with healthcare facilities for periodic health examinations for their employees.
According to the survey, more than 50 per cent have noise and dust levels that exceed the national limits.
At facilities that make products such as footwear and textiles, employees are exposed to toxic chemicals that exceed the standards.
In another survey, the HCM City Centre for Labour Health and Environment Protection examined 6,565 production facilities beginning in 2007.
The facilities showed no improvement of light, dust, speed of wind or noise standards.
Huynh Tan Tien, the centre's head, said that the workplace environment had affected employees' health. More than 30 per cent of 606, 890 employees who received health check-ups suffered ear, nose and throat illnesses.
The number of people with eye disorders accounted for 23.11 per cent, and nearly 45 per cent of married women surveyed had a gynecological disorder.
Of the total 125,846 employees who had been specifically checked for occupational diseases, 912 were diagnosed with serious hearing impairment, skin illness, silicosis and lead and insecticide poisoning. Of the total figure, 763 people had hearing disorders.
Thao said that the companies must adopt new technology innovation and make plans toward clean production to protect employees and prevent environmental pollution.
She and Tien both believe that the Government should give priority to providing loans to small- and medium-sized enterprises that decide to implement clean production and use updated technology.
Tien said that many companies were aware of occupational safety and wanted to follow the national standards.
In addition, workers with occupational diseases must receive annual examinations as well as treatment, evaluation and financial assistance.
Personal protection, including proper clothing, headgear and gloves, is also important in protecting workers. — VNS