He made the statement at a seminar held in Hanoi on April 28 to mark the World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2009.
Vietnam has exerted great efforts to reduce occupational accidents and diseases and the country became the first Asian nation in 1994 to ratify the Convention concerning Occupational Safety and Health and the Working Environment. With technical assistance of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Vietnam finalised a national dossier on work hygiene and safety for the first time in 2005.
In 2006, the Prime Minister gave the nod to a national programme on labour protection, safety and hygiene intended to reduce the number of occupational accidents and diseases in risky areas as well as improve the working conditions. Two years later, Vietnam joined many other nations in the Seoul Declaration to commit to implementing hygiene and safety at work at all levels and raising the entire society’s responsibility in the field.
Rie Veij Kjeldgaard, ILO Director in Vietnam cited an alarming figure that every 15 seconds, there are 160 people injured and one person dies from work place accidents over the world.
According to ILO, occupational accidents and diseases cost the world 4 percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP), 20 times higher than the world’s total official development assistance (ODA) capital.
The MoLISA’s Labour Safety Department said that more than 4,600 occupational accidents occur in Vietnam each year causing nearly 5,000 injure and 500 deaths.
Employees and employers’ poor awareness and lax implementation of regulations on work hygiene and safety are the main cause of these accidents,.
The Health Ministry has reported that only 18-20 percent of medical establishments with high risks of occupational diseases are monitored in working environment and below 10 percent of people working in toxic environment receive regular medical checks-up.
In response to World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2009, the MoLISA also worked with the ILO to organise a painting contest on the theme for around 100 primary school children.