Occupational diseases are weakening Ho Chi Minh City workforce

By Khanh An, Thanh Nien News

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A worker during a medical examination in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Nhu Lich A worker during a medical examination in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Nhu Lich


New data released by health officials in Ho Chi Minh City this week have once again laid bare the problem of poor working conditions in Vietnam and how they are debilitating the workforce.  
The Center for Occupational and Environment Health said work-related diseases affect a large number of workers in the city due to unchecked workplace hazards. 
“Many employers pay no attention to relevant regulations and procedures in protecting their workers and maintaining safe working conditions, especially in industrial and export processing zones,” the center's director Huynh Tan Tien said at a conference on Wednesday.
“Occupational diseases are a major concern for many workers,” he said.
Last year, the center surveyed 1,424 companies and found many of them skipped the required annual medical checkup for workers.
Only 21 percent of companies with a hazardous working environment offered medical examinations to their staff.
The survey also found many companies where workers were exposed to major health risks caused by pollution, toxic gases, extreme heat and noise. 
The number of workers in poor health is now very high, Tien said. 
In 2015, his agency coordinated with district-level health centers to provide medical examinations for more than 177,400 workers at 358 companies in the city.
The findings were disheartening: up to 27.5 percent of them had their health status ranked as "bad" and "very bad." 
“Many workers have been diagnosed with occupational diseases, including acute pneumonia and bronchitis, hearing loss and skin diseases,” Tien said.
“This shows that many companies have ignored the issue and put the city’s workforce in danger.”

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