Statistics from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment shows that 2.78 million workers die from occupational accidents and work-related diseases annually, while an additional 374 million suffer from non-fatal occupational accidents globally each year.
In Lagos State, Africa’s fastest growing megacity and Nigeria’s commercial hub, complaints about workplace accidents are reported daily to the agency in charge of such issues, Lagos Safety Commission, LSC, by both employers and employees.
The Head, Risk Management and Regulatory Affairs at the Lagos Safety Commission, Mrs Omotayo Ifeyemi said in spite of COVID-19 restrictions, over ten workplace related injuries were handled last year (2020)
“We have handled more than 10 incidents and we made sure that we do it to a logical conclusion. As usual, we intervened by conducting a comprehensive accident investigation, after which we now make a recommendation so that the accident will not reoccur, but some organisations sometimes will not carry out the recommendations, so what we do in such cases is that we will write them to submit an accident and incident prevention plan and wherein they fail, we hand them over to the legal department for prosecution” she said.
According to Mrs Ifeyemi, in cases of fatality, the State government usually ensures that the company pay compensation to the family of the deceased worker in line with the Company act and in the case of incapacitating injury, such a company is always mandated to give a less demanding role to the maimed worker without being sacked.
Most accidents especially those at construction sites often go unreported, to check this, the Director-General of the Lagos Safety Commission, Mr Lanre Mojola said the commission had started paying unscheduled visits to such sites.
He revealed that in the last two years, enforcement action was carried out in 609 construction sites for repeated failure to comply with safety regulations during which the Commission issued a 90 day Provisional Safety Compliance Certificate and Safety Compliance Certificates thereafter in cases where compliance status was maintained.
In line with the theme of this year’s observance of the global Work place safety “Anticipate, prepare and respond to crises and invest now in resilient Occupational Health Safety systems” Mr Mojola said the Lagos Safety Commission is developing a Master plan to provide a comprehensive policy for the protection of workers and to entrench a healthy work environment.
The Safety Commission DG said: “This master plan is in line with the current administration’s agenda of a safer Lagos for all. This will further protect the State’s most valuable resource and asset; its human capital, by building a safer and healthier Lagos through the development and sustenance of a safe and healthy work culture,”
Reacting to the proposed master plan, some safety experts who hailed the Initiative said the welfare of people with disabilities should also be considered.
“It’s very difficult for a person with wheelchair to move around and currently we have a lot of disruptive activities in Nigeria, Occupational safety and health is quite different from the general notion of health we all know, it is the beginning of empowerment of every employee and employer of course. From point of the the human resource practitioner, it is our responsibility to formulate the right policy and ensure that safety standards are adhered to” they stated.
The respondents belief that adherence to occupational safety measures is a must for every progressive society and if Lagos can successful reduce the alarming rate of workplace injuries, other States in the Country would follow suit.