The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, has reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to enforce the 1990 Factories Act as it concerns occupational safety and health component of labour activities.
Ngige made the statement on Thursday in Abuja when he received a delegation from the Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers, a division of the Nigeria Society of Engineers.
He explained that enforcement of the act was imperative as occupational safety and health had been taken for granted and neglected in Nigeria.
“We are geared toward implementing and enforcing those laws because we have enough labour laws in this country to cater for occupational health and safety of workers and their employers.
“Nigeria has enough laws but the problem is enforcement.
“Today, C of Os are given, building plans are approved without inputs from occupational health and safety engineers and the Occupational Health and Safety Department of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“So, realising that I have decided to awaken that department,” he said.
The minister said that the Federal Civil Service Commission had made efforts to recruit health inspectors, factories inspectors, among others, to beef up the department.
He added that next week, the acting chairman of the commission would issue letters for recruitment of those qualified to fill vacancies in the of the ministry.
Ngige said that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) had noticed that Occupational Health and Safety Department is one of the areas where there is a deficiency of personnel all over Africa.
“This department is not only populated by inspectors but with people who read micro biology, medical sciences, engineers, environmentalists, among others.
“So, it is an all-encompassing department which needs to be fortified to do its work; and safety engineers are a major part of this particular assignment.
“So, we will partner with you and from time to time need your assistance in the area of consultancy and technical assistance; do not fail to give it to us,” he added.
Earlier, Sen. Iyiola Omisore, Patron of the Institution, decried the way and manner Nigerians observe occupational health and safety regulations.
“It is being taken for granted and people have gotten used to it already and it is now becoming an abnormal thing,’’
Omisore said that research had shown that Nigeria had lost close to N1.4 trillion from the property, lives, fire hazards, building collapse, bridges collapse, and other issues arising from safety.
“That is why we are trying to bring the campaign of safety consciousness in Nigeria across the board and we want to employ this ministry to partner with the institution to awaken the department of safety.
“Let’s partner together as there is need to enhance the status of the department as workers make industries and business.
“If you do not protect workers, then we are in serious crisis and this will affect all phases of lives,” Omisore said.
Also speaking, the National Chairman of the institution, Mr Biodum Oyedepo, said the institution would support and ensure enforcement of the 1990 Factories Act among others.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that highlight of the visit was the conferment of Honorary Fellowship of the Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers on the minister.