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“Without safety, there can’t be meaningful work standard”

By AKOMA CHINWEOKE
As part of activities marking the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, an initiative of  the International Labor Organization (ILO), the  management of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, has called on government, concessionaires and other agencies at the nation’s ports  to pay attention to emerging hazards in workplaces  and the impact of the global economic crisis on labor.

Speaking on the topic, Emerging Risks and New Patterns of Prevention in a Changing World of Work in Lagos, the guest speaker at the event, Evaristus Uzamere, pointed out that Nigeria as an import dependent economy imports goods worth about 40.2 billion dollars annually which, according to him, have a very high health and safety implications.

“ We have to move to a better position. The working conditions in Nigeria have changed. To stem casualty and ensure safety in our work place, synergy is what we must have in our industries and standard must be maintained. Without safety, there can’t be any meaningful work standard and a small decision taken by somebody can be very catastrophic, so we need to be careful.

“We also need to look at our technology application, biotechnology education and chemical handling
as graying workforce and increases in the numbers of female workers, migrant workers and informal workers and even the rise in psychological conditions, including stress could also affect occupational safety and health strategies,” he said.

Uzamare explained that  the adverse impact of the economic crisis on enterprises has also taken its toll on workers particularly as technological progress is accompanied by new workplace risks, diverse employment arrangements and changing workforce demographics..

“We are still dealing with the consequences of workplace hazards of the past. At the same time, we are confronted with new occupational safety and health challenges in a world of work undergoing rapid transformation. Many occupational hazards remain hidden and ignored, particularly in the informal economy which constitutes about 10 percent of the country’s population. Therefore all hands must be on deck,’’ he said.

He advised that country and enterprise leaders should “make a concerted effort to ensure that occupational safety and health is an integral element of strategies for strong, sustainable and balanced development.’’
By doing so, he said that all sectors — workers and their families, the enterprises, societies and economies- will stand to benefit from it.

The safety engineer and fire consultant  emphasized the need to integrate decent work strategies with safety and health as key components, and sound policies and good practices as responsive prevention strategies particularly in the country’s port industry as it is the gateway to the nation’s economy.

According to ILO data, 6,300 people die each day or more than 2.3 million deaths per year from work-related injuries or diseases.

ILO estimated that the economic cost of working days lost, medical treatment and cash benefits paid out for occupational diseases alone is pegged at 4 percent of global GDP each year.

The ILO theme this year  looks at current global challenges and the new context of occupational safety and health practice.

The world of work in globally is dynamic. Not only are there newly emerging hazards and risks, but also the relationship between employer and worker, the demographic of global workforce, patterns of work, and types of work are changing. These changes in turn affect how occupational safety and health has to be managed at workplace, regional, national, and international levels

This is why nations work with the ILO, the World Health Organization, and other global players to protect workers during these changing times. The European Union has a leading role to play in achieving decent work, quality work for all.

It is estimated that 10-15 percent of fatal accidents at work and 15 – 20 percent of all accidents are related to maintenance.

Something has to be done about this and the campaign will therefore focus on raising the awareness of the risks associated with maintenance activities, promoting good practice in maintenance activities and supporting member state policies, activities and initiatives in this area.

April 28 is the annual World Day for Safety and Health at work. Since 2003, the ILO has observed the World Day, stressing the prevention of accidents and ill-health at work through social dialogue and tripartism.


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