Vietnam leather firm leader faces charges in employees’ deaths

By Dam Huy, Thanh Nien News

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Hao Duong Leather Joint-stock Company in Ho Chi Minh City's Nha Be District, where three employees died from asphyxia last year / PHOTO COURTESY OF VNEXPRESS
Ho Chi Minh City police have asked local prosecutors to charge a vice director of a leather company with violating labor safety rules, leading to the death of three employees last year.
According to police findings, on April 24 engineer Nguyen Minh Tuan, 29, reported to Trinh Thi Phuong Mai, vice director of Hao Duong Leather Joint-stock Company in Nha Be District, that a pipe between waste treatment tanks was clogged.
The pipe led mud from a settling tank to a collection tank.
He proposed a plan to fix the problem by attaching a clean pipe to the troubled one in the collection tank, and then pumping water into the pipes to get rid of mud clots.
Mai approved Tuan’s plan, even though it did not include safety measures, police said.
They said Tuan did not pump water from a nearby river, but waste water from the settling bank.
After that, worker Huynh Thanh Tai, 24, climbed into the collection tank to remove the extra pipe, but he soon suffocated as the tank was contaminated with waste water and chemical gases.
He tried to get out of the tank but failed.
Tuan, who was watching Tai working, jumped into the tank in an effort to save Tai, but he suffocated as well.
Another worker Le Phat Tai, 28, who was working nearby, also jumped to rescue his colleagues, but he too ended up suffocating.
Online newspaper said autopsy results indicated that the victims died from choking on mud that filled their breathing tubes.
Police said as a person in charge of environmental issues, Mai failed to supervise the working process of her employees to remind them of labor safety rules, so they ended up entering the deep tank without wearing masks or ropes.

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