The Director of Kwara Fire Service, Mr Abdulwaheed Yakub, on Monday, joined other experts to underscore the need for employers and employees to pay adequate attention to matters of safety of workers.
Yakub made the call in commemoration of the 2019 World Day for Health and Safety at Work, in Ilorin, reiterating that safety is very important and no sacrifice is too great to achieving it.
He added that the importance of safety was the reason for inviting employers of labour from both the public and private sectors to this year’s celebration.
“We were supposed to celebrate the World Day for Health and Safety at Work yesterday (Sunday, April 28) as it is done annually, but it was shifted until today (Monday) to accommodate everyone.
“Many companies, government organisations, private sectors and other employers of labour were invited for this year celebration, for them to learn the importance of safety
“Every office must have safety facilities, including free health insurance scheme to help and encourage workers
“Employers should also provide safety measures for their workers and any employer who refused to do so should be sanctioned,” Yakub said.
Similarly, Prof. Solomon Olayinka of Ladoke Akintola University of Science and Technology (LAUTECH) in Oyo State, urged government, in particular, to be more committed to the safety of its workforce.
“One of the importance of today’s celebration is for the employees to be sensitized on the importance of their safety and also know their rights through sensitisation programmes or through their labour unions.
“Most private sector employers are trying to some extent, compared to the public sector, but even at that, the money the private sector pays for work hazards is insufficient.
“So, there is need for more research to enable us get to the roots of the problems and unearth solutions,” he said.
As for Dr Ajakaye Adam of the National Institute of Labour Studies, Ilorin, most employers are not really bothered about the safety of their employees and that is why the day is commemorated to sensitise workers on their right of safety.
“An average Nigerian should be protected all the time, and for a worker to be protected, he must have access to good and productive employment, his retirement benefit should be good and while at work, he must be protected.
“But today, we have deficiencies, particularly in the area of protection, leading to avoidable and untimely death of many Nigerian workers,” he said.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said that the annual commemoration for the World Day for Safety and Health at work globally was aimed at preventing occupational accidents and diseases, essentially through advocacy and public sensitisation.
“This is in view of the alarming statistics that indicate that each year, 2.78 million workers die from occupational accident and work related diseases, while additional 374 million workers suffer from non-fatal occupational accidents.
“The economic cost of these figures was enormous and unquantifiable.
“It is also quite tragic and regrettable, considering that such immeasurable human suffering and catastrophes caused by poor occupational safety and health practices and condition were largely preventable,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports the 2019 theme as: ‘Safety and Health and the Future of Work,’ inspired by current discussions on the future of work, while taking stock of the 100 years ILO’s work in improving global occupational safety and health.
Ngige said the main objectives, therefore, is to look to the future for continuing efforts and addressing major changes such as technological advancement, ethnographic changes, changes in work organisation and climate change.