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FG, Lagos move to enforce occupational safety compliance

The Federal and Lagos State governments have vowed to enforce occupational safety and health compliance at work places across the nation and the state.

This is in a bid to curb frequent hazards faced by workers at various work places due to careless and non-conformity to standard by employers.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who spoke at the 1st Annual Workers’ Conference on Occupational Safety and Health, organised by the Lagos State Safety Commission, LSSC, in Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, on Wednesday, said in this regard, a national policy on occupational safety and health and a system of inspections to enforce compliance with occupational safety and health legislation had been put in place by the Federal Government.

Ngige said the aim was to achieve widespread coverage of the labour inspection services nationwide, through extension of services to cover the largest possible number of working people in all economic sectors, including those engaged in the informal sector.

According to Ngige, while the Factories Act CAP F1, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 remained in force as the principal occupational safety and health legislation in Nigeria, the Labour Safety, Health and Welfare Bill which is to repeal and re-enact the Factories Act, had been in the works since the 5th, 6th, 7th and now the 8th National Assembly and is yet to be passed into law.

“This bill has made adequate provisions for safety and health for all workers, including those engaged in the informal sector. The emphasis of the Federal Government is on prevention, with a determined effort geared towards avoiding, nipping in the bud or totally eliminating risks of work-related accidents and diseases, by way of ensuring compliance with existing legislation, as well as compliance assistance through informing and educating the populace accordingly,” said Ngige, who was represented by Dr. Ifeoma Igweze-Anyanwutaku, Zonal Director, Southwest, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

The minister added that the Federal Government was committed more than ever to eradicating unsafe and indecent work in all its ramifications, stressing that exposure of workers to hazardous work was totally unacceptable and called for concerted effort and collaboration among all stakeholders.

Director General, LSSC, Fouad Oki, said the timing of the conference was most appropriate at this time in the country when issues work place hazards appeared to be on the increase, stressing that over the years, issues of occupational safety and health needed to be addressed through a capacity building.

“There is no way to do this than to organise this conference where workers will be able to network, where issues of rights and responsibilities come to the fore. The conference is looking at the right of the employees in the work place, their roles and as it affects them,” he said.

He stated that the state government had been engaging most employers and employees on the need to know their rights and responsibilities, as government is taking cognisance of the high hazard in the workplace, particularly in manufacturing and construction industries.

Oki said government is reviewing enabling laws in order to tackle issues of occupational hazards and safety, adding that government would prosecute employers who did not meet up with the required occupational safety standard.

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