The Health and Safety of each worker remains the responsibility of the employer especially while engaging in operational activities on behalf of the organization. Employers must do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve a safe workplace.
Apart from the common law duty of care imposed on employers towards their employees, the extant Laws on Health and Safety of Workers in Nigeria namely; Labour Act, Factory Act, Employees Compensation Act, etc. give minimum requirements for compliance with best health and safety standards. Particularly the Nigerian Labour Act mandates that all organizations have a “duty of care’ to ensure the safety, health and welfare of their employer, contractors, clients and even visitors. They are also to ensure that the conditions of the workplace are in compliance with the required health and safety standards as per best practices.
The insistent incident trends across the various has become really worrisome, a case at hand is the death of one Gbadebo Johnson, a 300 level student of European Studies at the University of Ibadan as a result of the industrial accident in the Oluyole factory of Henkel Nigeria Limited is another incident too many to be left uninvestigated or resolved to identify the root cause and prevent recurrence. This can be achieved through an investigative process conducted by a committee set up comprising of competent HSE professionals or the State Safety Commission if already established.
Recently, there was a report in the national dailies of the decision by Henkel Nigeria Limited to compensate the family of the victim. How much compensation will replace the grief of a promising youth that was cut shut in his prime? How much compensation can replace the live of a loved one? Is this Compensation enough deterrent for such unsafe practices by Companies? How is the Compensation System Monitored, controlled and measured? Is the Compensation going to be implemented in line with the provisions of the Employee Compensation Act 2010? These are the many questions we seek from Henkel Nigeria Limited and the Regulatory bodies.
The greatest assets of any company are the people whether contract, full-time or part-time hire. There should be a great value placed on the life of each and every individual that is why ANWOSAP is making this clarion call as mothers, sisters, daughters and Safety professionals for all to join this call for justice for the family of the Johnsons and other injured persons and victims as a result of workplace accidents.
Organizations should be responsible for training of employees on safe work procedures, enforcement should be done by government regulatory authorities such as the State Safety Commission to ensure that companies comply to the required standards and ultimately workers should understand and abide by the safe work processes set out by the organizations with HSE professional within the workplace ensuring these safe work procedures are followed through to ensure no individual in the workforce is injured or go home sick due to hazards they are exposed to at work.
All incidents are preventable and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that nobody gets injured during the execution of work. Incidents that are recorded as fatality (death) are not just statistics they represent the spilled blood of a human being and loss of life which is very precious and should be valued by all including employers of Labor.
What role can we play as good citizens and our brothers’ keeper to ensure similar incidents do not reoccur? Today it is the turn of the Johnsons’ tomorrow it may be another family that is close or related to us. Do we have to wait until it happens to us before we take action? This calls for all to speak up at all times whenever there is an unsafe condition observed or an unsafe work practice identified.
In view of the above, ANWOSAP calls on the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity (Inspectorate Division) being the main regulators of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) in Nigeria, OSH professionals, OSH professional bodies, responsible NGO and individuals to do the needful and consider our strong recommendations as follows;
- Compulsory training of factory workers on best health and safety practices
- Abolishment of casual employment in factories except there are clear contractual obligations
- Whistle blowing system for noncompliant employees and companies
- Routine check for compliance by regulatory bodies and relevant authorities.
- Immediate shut down of incident scenes pending investigation
- Transparent system of investigation and reporting
- Transparent system of compensation.
- Stronger enforcement mechanism
With regards to this specific incident, ANWOSAP is committed to providing her expertise of competent Safety professionals as part of the investigative team and also Safety Legal Support if required to ensure this issue is addressed to prevent recurrence.
We hope that more lives will be saved from workplace accidents if we approach the Health and Safety of workers in Nigeria as a collective responsibility. To work SAFE AND HEALTHY is for the building of sustainable businesses and for the benefit of the entire Nation.