The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo, made the call at the commemoration of the 2022 World Day for Safety and Health at work on Thursday in Abuja with the theme: “Act Together To Build A Positive Safety And Health culture’’.
Keyamo, represented by Dr John Magbado, the Director overseeing Office of the Permanent Secretary, said government was taking proactive steps towards achieving a safe and healthy environment at workplace.
According to him, this is through national programmes, legislations and collective agreement on Occupational Safety and Health, in line with the International Labour Organisation(ILO) decent work agenda. .
“Nigeria as a member state of the ILO has since 2004, joined in the annual awareness –raising campaign of safety and health.
“This is intended to focus the attention of the populace on the magnitude of work related accidents, injuries, diseases and deaths.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen that having a strong Occupational Safety and Health system was very apt.
“We saw meaningful participation of government, employers, workers, public health actors, among others that are crucial in protecting working environment and safeguarding the safety and health of workers, ’’he said.
He, however, said there was need for continuous collaboration and co-operation of all stakeholders across all sector to ensure that highest level of safety, health and wellbeing of all workers in the country.
The ILO Country Director to Nigeria, Ms Vanessa Phala, said trhat no fewer than 2.9 million workers died yearly due to occupational accidents and diseases, while 402m people suffer from non-fatal occupational injuries.
Phala, represented by Dr Runo Onosode, also said that the occupational risk factor with the largest number of deaths is attributed to exposure to long working hours following to particular matter, gases and fumes.
According to her, not only do occupational injuries and illness cause immeasurable human suffering to victims and their families, they also entail economic loses.
She added that over the years the ILO has shown its commitment to supporting safe work environment in Nigeria by providing both technical and financial support to the Nigerian government and its social partners.
“The ILO supported the Federal Government develop its first national OSH profile and thereafter supported the government revise its national OSH policy which is been launched today by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“ The ILO also supported a technical dialogue on a number of labour bills currently been developed including the occupational health and safety bill.
“The International Labour Standards along with relevant laws and policies would give impetus to the promotion of safety at work to ensure that workers are adequately protected, ’’she said.
The ILO boss, therefore, called on the government to safeguard the lives of the workers by building better resilient national and state occupational safety and health policies and programmes.
Also, Mrs Lauretta Nneka, Director, Factories of the Federation, Occupational Safety and Health in the ministry, said that safeguarding the occupational safety and health of the national labour force, had been a major statutory responsibility of the ministry.
She said the ministry had continue to discharge its responsibility through vigorous enforcement of factories Act and its subsidiaries regulation, and host of other strategies aimed at promoting safety, health and wellbeing of persons at work.
“The theme of 2022 celebration is apt; at the workplace level, a strong occupational safety and health culture is one in which the right to safe and health working environment is valued and promoted by both managers and workers ,’’she said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that in raising awareness for the commemoration of the day, a rally and road show as well as medical outreach were held in Kugbo Funiture Market.(