The Organised Labour has urged the federal government to recognise COVID-19 as a workplace disease and a compensable occupational hazard.
The position of labour movement came just as the federal government launched a revised National Policy on Occupational Safety and Health in Abuja yesterday.
A statement signed by the Head of Public Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Charles Akpan, said the reviewed policy has an additional three subsidiary regulations-Boiler and Pressure Vessels Regulation, Lifting and Allied Work Equipment (Safety) Regulations, and Diving at Work Regulations.
In a statement to mark this year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), President Ayuba Wabba, said the listing of occupational health and safety should be made a fundamental right at work.
He said there is a very strong advocacy by trade unions all over the world for the International Labour Conference to adopt Occupational Health and Safety as a fundamental right at work.
Wabba said this would translate to stronger action and commitment by governments around the world to take responsibility and accountability on their duties to oblige compliance from employers both in the public and private sectors.
“In view of the foregoing, the NLC wishes to make the following demands as Action Points in the push to ‘Save Lives at Work’ not only in Nigeria but all over the world of work.
“The listing of occupational health and safety as a fundamental right at work and the recognition of COVID-19 as a workplace disease and a compensable occupational hazard,” he said.
According to him, there should be adequate provision of training and capacity building for trade unions to deal with Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) issues and reforms in the Factories Act to ensure enforcement and penalties as well as demand for compensation of COVID-19 victims in the workplace.
In addition, Wabba said there should be payment of health hazards to health workers and other frontline workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the statement, Akpan said the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, had explained that the revised national policy on occupational safety and health is aimed at ensuring the safety and health of workers at their workplaces nationwide.