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Electronics workers face daily hazards

Update: January, 15/2014 - 08:27
Workers produce electronic devices at Exedy Viet Nam in the northern province of Vinh Phuc. Workers in the electronics industry are at risk from hazardous working conditions. — VNA/VNS Photo Danh Lam

HA NOI (VNS)— Hundreds of thousands of workers in the country's electronics industry were at risk from hazardous working conditions caused by the chemicals used in the manufacturing and assembly process, a recent study has revealed.

The study, the first of its kind in Viet Nam, showed that around 200,000 workers, mainly women aged between 18 and 30, were in direct contact with hazardous chemicals which seriously affected their health.

The study, which was carried out in industrial zones in Ha Noi and the northern provinces of Bac Ninh, Vinh Phuc and Hai Duong, showed that many labourers felt pain in their bones, had buzzing in their ears and had their eyesight worsened.

Many workers said they wanted to quit their job because they were afraid of the affects it would have on their health.

The report was carried out by the Centre for Development and Integration (CDI) and Oxfam Solidarity Belgium.

Figures from the Ministry of Health showed that by December 31, 2012, around 28,000 workers in the electronics industry had contracted occupational diseases, and chemical-related illnesses accounted for 10 per cent of the total.

Up to 90,000 tonnes of electronics waste which is harmful to public health and the environment are shipped to Viet Nam each year.

Executive Director of the Asia Monitor Resource Centre Sanjiv Pandita said that just a small amount of toxic chemicals over a long period of time would affect the workers' health, especially in an industry which used thousands of different chemicals.

Nguyen Ngoc Nga, vice chairwoman of the Viet Nam Labour Medicine Association, said that the current method of classifying dangerous careers was unsatisfactory, and the risk of occupational diseases still remained although certain hazardous jobs were classified as ‘safe'.

Viet Nam has more than 500 electronics manufacturing factories, most of which are foreign-invested.

The industry provides thousands of jobs for rural workers and has targeted US$40 billion in export turnover by 2017.

Dang Quang Dieu, head of Viet Nam's General Confederation of Labour's Policy and Law Department, said that a legal framework on labour safety standards and electronic waste management was vital to ensuring the safety of workers.

Enterprises should be required to inform their workers of the chemicals used in production and provide regular health checks for them.

The study should provide a basis for researchers to conduct an overall survey of the industry's labour safety and hygiene standards. — VNS

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