Evaluating work load through criteria of hard work and stress during the work of seafood processing workers in Middle area of Vietnam

The characteristics of work in seafood processing is manual and hard work; workers have to expose to many hazardous factors that may result in risks of accidents and diseases. According to data measured by staff of the Vietnam National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (VNNIOSH) when implementing projects on seafood industry in Middle area of Vietnam it shows that more than 90% workplaces have high humidity, 80% to 90% have low ventilated circulation; most workers are exposed to cleaning chemicals and moisture. The percentage of female workers occupies for 83%. Most the time female workers are in standing position, from 8 to 12 even 14 hours depending on season of catching and processing seafood. This position lasts entire shift of work, day after day making workers tired and hurt in many parts of body. The popular sickness that workers normally often get are ear, nose and throat pain, skin and eye disease, musculoskeletal disorder.

To evaluate work load that workers often get, research team carried out survey and evaluate the criteria for hard work and stress during the work of 144 employees at 6 seafood processing enterprises, in particular at 8 sections including raw material receiving, primary processing, finishing processing and size classification, weighting and setting mold, freezing, dismantling the mold, packaging  and cold storage.

The result of survey shows that 46/48 surveyed workplaces have work load of class 3 that corresponded to heavy work; work load of class 2 occupies for 89.6%. Only 2/48 surveyed workplaces have work load of average.  Most workplaces of all 6 enterprises are evaluated as heavy work because workers suffer at the same time many factors such as heavy load, much repeated movement during the shift and bad posture of work ( more than 80% working time is at standing position). The travel during the work is very rare. At the raw material receiving and cold storage, workers also have to lift and transport very heavy things; the high number of bending up and down movement. The average weight of the things to lift is about 7 to 10 kg.

The operations at most workplaces are manual. During the work, employees don’t have to think much, the tasks are not so complicated, load for emotion and sensation is low. However, the monotonousness is high due to workers have to do repeated movement much time. In the season time or urgent contract, workers have to work for long shift with 9 or more hours.

Most workplaces at surveyed sections are evaluated as occupational stress of allowable (class 2 - work stress of average). Only 4/48 surveyed workplaces have stress of level 3.1, occupying 8,3% and these workplaces belong to raw material receiving and weighting and setting mold. At these workplaces workers have to concentrate on selecting raw seafood and half - processed products on strict requirement of customers. That’s why workers easily suffer from stress and pressure at work.

To reduce work load, some sections should implement immediately measures to reduce the risks that can affect on workers’ health. They are cold storage, dismantling mold, freezing and raw material receiving. In these sections, except uncomfortable position of work that is standing workers also have to lift and transport heavy things with high number of bending up and down movement. The measure can be applied are using equipment and devices to help lifting and transporting heavy things; re-arranging the time of work and break also helps to reduce the risks due to lifting heavy load and bad postures of workers.

When season of catching and processing occurs, the raw material receiving is high and extended shift is applied, the enterprises should re-arrange the time of work and break so that workers can have good health for challenging days. With the jobs requiring high attention, for example at checking raw material and haft processing product, it needs to have solution such as special table for checking with good enough lighting. This can help to do the job easily and reduce pressure during the work.

Nguyen Thi Thuy Trang

(Source: Vnniosh.vn)