Occupational Safety experts have called on the Federal Government to sign enabling laws for Nigerian workers, stating that the country was still operating on a factory Act that is already obsolete and does not protect workers.
The call came when Nigeria hosted the maiden edition of the International Vision Zero conference in Lagos recently.
The President, Occupational Safety and Health in Africa, OSHA Africa, Mr. Ehi Iden said most of the African countries were signatories to the International Convention and Declarations but the implementation of those declarations and domesticating it into local policy was still a problem both in Nigeria and other African countries.
He said: “The government of Nigeria must sign an enabling law for people to work with. What we have in Nigeria is the factory Act and it’s an obsolete document. It does not protect workers. The world is talking about new technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, and the transformation of workplaces through technology. When you are working with the factory Act and these transitions come in, you can’t protect workers. We need laws to be signed and enforcement to be done in workplaces.
“Even the few local laws that we have there are no enforcement, and we have violations and nobody is penalised. I just want to appeal to everyone, whether you are a worker or an employer, to make safety a priority,” said.
He said that they are lining on the tripod of the Vision Zero that talks about workplace safety and wellness with the focus that anybody who goes to work should be able to return to his family without any harm or exposure to diseases through the work that the person does.
He said: “There are only fewer institutions where people are trained in occupational safety in Africa. We need to start looking at how we can train more people.”
Also, the Manager at Globeleq Power Solution Nigeria LTD, Mr Julius Akpon said Nigerian authorities beginning from the Federal Ministry of Environment to National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, NESREA should help to eradicate Polychlorinated Biphenyl, PCBs in Nigeria.
He noted that PCBs have been banned in other countries yet some people mix it with vegetable oil to fry food.
According to him, “PCBs are very dangerous compounds and it is part of a group of compounds called Persistent Organic Pollutant, POP.
He said: “There are about 20 of them which have been banned 20 years ago and Nigeria was part of the signatories at the convention.
“This chemical affects a lot including reproductive organs; it can cause a lot of problems in people’s lives. It could cause mental issues because it has an impact on the central nervous system. It can make people misbehave and you will start behaving as if you are mad. Meanwhile, it is due to exposure to a bad chemical at work.”