The National Industrial Safety Council of Nigeria (NISCN) have called on the government as well as all stakeholders to make the issue of the health and safety of workers in the workplace a priority in the country.
The Chairman FCT, NISCN Dr Festus Daniel, made the plea on the sidelines of a one-day workshop organised by ETPM-Reckon Singapore and International Security Organsaation (ISO) in collaboration with NISN on Friday in Abuja.
Daniel said he was really passionate about the issue of safety, most especially in Nigeria, hence the need to organise the workshop.
“Occupational health and safety, that is safety of workers in the environment and their health, whether in public or private institutions is very important because these are the people building the economy of our nation.
“I therefore think it’s high time the government, the ministry of Labour and Employment as well as all stakeholders that have been assigned according to the National policy on Occupational safety and health pick up the baton and begin to run with it.
“They must ensure that as a nation we begin to attain zero tolerance to workplace accidents, illnesses and ensure that these policies are enforced and laws enacted to ensure that our workers are safe and healthy in their workplaces,” he said.
He noted that the aim of the workshop was also to prepare and improve the capacity of workers in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, especially in the area of emerging technologies as it relates to their job description.
“We are having a one day programme in collaboration with International Security Organisation on Emerging Issues for factory workers in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, basically in the area of the jobs they do like incident inspection, among others.
“So, the aim of the workshop is to prepare them and improve their capacity in the area of emerging technologies as it relates to their job description.
“As a factory inspector, they need to be abreast with today’s technology advancement. That’s why we have put together this program with the support of International organizations from Switzerland and Singapore.
“It also aims at assessing their jobs and evaluating the gaps as well as proffering solutions and steps which can be followed to achieve great success in their jobs/reports.
“It is hoped that the knowledge/skills acquired by the participants will trickle down to every officer in the ministry because their job is very pivotal to the safety of our environment and workplaces,” he said.
Anietie Hanson, a certified Occupational health and safety professional noted that what was obtainable today, especially in private institutions was a complete neglect of the safety and health of the workers, adding that some of the employers just care about the money, thereby leaving the employees helpless.
“There was a case of an employee working in a factory whose hand was amputated due to an accident which occurred in his place of work and he was laid off in the process by the organization.
“This is indeed very wrong and I think it is high time we start creating occupational safety and health awareness in our nation.
“If possible, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) must begin to let people know, just the same way they propagate safety with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They must also put effort and their resources to disseminate information with respect to occupational safety and health of workers a priority.
“There are alot of people who have been killed through workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses more than COVID-19 that we don’t even have record of them.
“Many wives have become widows while many children have become orphans simply because their parents went to work and could not return and nobody is hearing about these,” he said.
He applealed to the Minister of Labour and Employment to rise up to the challenge and synergize with the various stakeholders to ensure that the health and safety of workers is not compromised.
“I will therefore like to encourage the minister of Labour and Employment to take up the baton and pilot this affair.
“There is a need for synergy between the department of national safety and health as well as the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria, Nigeria Industrial Safety Council and every other safety body.
“It is high time we rise and fight for the safety and health of the workers in our nation,” he said.