Deadly workplace accidents continue to plague Việt Nam

June 17, 2024 - 07:19
The lack of knowledge and skills, coupled with a relaxed attitude towards safety, create a hazardous working environment.
The scene of a boiler explosion at a Sunrise Wood Trading Production Co., Ltd. factory that killed six and injured five on May 1. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Sỹ Tuyên

HÀ NỘI — A recent string of deadly workplace accidents has ripped through factories in several provinces, raising serious concerns about gaps in workplace safety measures.

Just in the past two months, workplace accidents have claimed a shocking number of lives. A horrific accident at a cement factory owned by Yên Bái Cement and Minerals JSC left seven workers dead and three injured in April. One month later, another at a Sunrise Wood Trading Production Co., Ltd. factory claimed six lives and left five hurt.

Hà Tất Thắng, Director of the Work Safety Department under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, admits there's a problem. While the total number of workplace accidents has dipped in 2024, the severity of these recent incidents is alarming.

Thắng blames the accidents on employers who are not following safety rules and workers who have not received proper safety training. The lack of knowledge and skills, coupled with a relaxed attitude towards safety, create a hazardous working environment.

The Law on Occupational Safety and Health is clear: employers must prioritise safety. This means they are required to establish a system to manage risks, develop clear procedures and rules, assign supervisors and most importantly, train workers before they even step onto the job site.

For high-risk jobs, companies also need to create detailed work plans and have rescue measures in place in case of emergencies. Unfortunately, recent accidents suggest both employers and workers are cutting corners on safety.

Nguyễn Anh Thơ, Director of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health under the General Confederation of Labour, believes many businesses have a skewed view of workplace safety.

He reveals that many businesses still see spending money on safety as a waste. They do the bare minimum to comply with regulations instead of recognising it as an investment in their workers' well-being and the company's future.

"Companies need a reality check," Thơ argues. "Good working conditions, fair labour standards, and competitive wages and benefits are essential for attracting and keeping good employees."

Experts emphasise that ensuring workplace safety is a shared responsibility.

Government agencies must step up inspections and crack down on companies violating safety regulations. Employers must prioritise safety training for their workers, provide adequate protective gear and improve working conditions overall. Workers must be more aware of safety risks and follow rules in the workplace.

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs is taking action by issuing a document urging local authorities to ramp up inspections and ensure employers follow occupational safety laws.

The focus will be on companies that provide services related to workplace safety, such as training, technical inspections and environmental monitoring.

The Ministry is also directing its inspectors to crack down on violations. For serious offenders, the Ministry could temporarily suspend their licences or even pursue criminal charges.

There were 7,394 workplace accidents nationwide in 2023, resulting in 7,553 casualties, including 1,720 seriously injured and 699 killed. The total cost of workplace accidents hit more than VNĐ16 trillion (US$625 million). — VNS