A Japanese funded project to enhance health and safety in the work place in high-risk sectors was officially launched at a seminar in Hanoi on June 12.

The event was jointly organised by the Vietnamese Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

As part of the joint ILO – Japanese initiative, the project will assist with the introduction of policies for high-risk sectors to protect vulnerable workers. This will help increase cooperation on the issue with other countries and implement the One United Nations Policy in Vietnam . It also helps carry out Decent Work Country Programme between Vietnam and the ILO from 2012-2016.

From now until 2014, the project will define the standards for health and safety at work as part of the second National Programme on Health and Safety at Work. It will limit workers’ exposure to toxic chemicals, set up agencies to enhance the capacity of workers and employers in preventing work place accidents by introducing training courses and review the procedures for reporting workplace accidents and occupational diseases.

The project will benefit workers and employers at small and medium-sized enterprises in the northern province of Bac Kan , Hai Phong city, the central provinces of Ha Tinh and Quang Ngai and the southern province of Dong Nai .

At the seminar, the participants agreed that despite making progress in health and safety at work in the past, Vietnam is still struggling to deal with the increase in workplace accidents, occupational diseases and environmental pollution.

They also suggested introducing a new Law on Health and Safety at Work as well as setting up a fund to compensate victims, creating a new department charged with training, inspecting and managing health and safety in businesses and setting heavy fines for businesses that break the law.-VNA