Illustrative image (Source: VNA)
About 30,000 labourers in Vietnam suffer from occupational diseases, Nguyen Anh Tho, Deputy Director of the Department of Labour Safety has said.

Tho said that the figure could be much higher due to an increasing number of chemicals being used in the workplace.

According to department figures, only about 6,000 establishments survey the working environment each year. And only five percent of employees are given medical examinations to detect work-related diseases. Most of them go to healthcare centres only if they have symptoms.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that throughout the world, work-related diseases affect about two million people each year. Their death rates are six times higher than those of work accidents.

Statistics from the Health Environment Management Agency show that only about 15 percent of workplaces nationwide have facilities to monitor the working environment and conduct periodic medical check-ups.

Dr Pham Hong Luu from the Occupational Health Centre in Hanoi said acute occupational diseases could be caused by chemicals or highly poisonous substances.

A new Law on Labour Hygiene and Safety adopted by the National Assembly will take effect from July next year. It emphasises controlling harmful factors at the workplace.

The law states that every month, employers must pay a maximum of one percent of workers' wages to insurance funds set up to help those affected by work accidents or occupational disease.

About 10 percent of the fund will be used for medical check-ups and training.

In Vietnam, health insurance covers 30 occupational diseases. Among those, diseases caused by workplace dust comprise 74 percent of the total, followed by noise pollution problems with 17 percent.

Other workplace diseases are often caused by exposure to benzene, X-rays or skin-related diseases.-VNA