By Moses Nosike
Human losses and suffering resulting from workplace injury are, most times, immeasurable. They can trigger major crises for affected families. Such crises could come in form of financial burden and can impose substantial time demands on family members.
Hence, safety in workplace goes a long way in mitigating losses on both individuals and corporate entities. It is also very crucial to the growth of any organisation as it determines, to a large extent, the pace of productivity. Also, organisations that put safety first turn out higher quality products.
In the formal sector, particularly the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry, accidents occur often times, hence the need for enforcement of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) regulations by appropriate authorities.
In Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, through its Inspectorate Division, enforces OSH regulations, while the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NCOSH) ensures compliance with the Labour, Safety, Health and Welfare Bill of 2012.
So far, the impact of the enforcement authority has been ineffective as key stakeholders in the several sectors of the economy pay less attention to OSH regulations, thus rendering the scheme dysfunctional and unenforceable, and, at the same time hindering OSH development.
However, a few companies in the FMCG industry have abided by the various safety regulations, winning various awards in return. For instance, in 2013, Lucky Fibres Plc, maker of Nobel premium brand of carpets and rugs won the gold medal by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) for the “Best Kept Industrial Premises” (BKIP) award.” The company won the award consistently since 2008 and also in 2015. This followed the environmental assessment of the factory premises conducted by MAN’s environmental committee.
In 2016, British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) emerged winner of the same award, while the first and second runners-up respectively were Nampak Cartons and Nigerian Breweries.
For the small and medium scale category, Boulus Food and Beverages, Frigoglass Manufacturing Industries Limited and Vina International Limited came first, second and third respectively. Special recognition was given to Oriental Foods Industry Limited, Fan Milk Plc, Filade Marble Works and Altak Industry Limited.
While compliance to safety regulations is a major challenge for several companies in the FMCG sector, Promasidor Nigeria Limited (PNL) is an interesting case study. Its strides have been recognised by independent and credible institutions, the latest one being the MAN.
Recently, the company, a leading provider of high-quality food products across various regions in Africa, won MAN’s BKIP award. Chi Limited, producer of dairy, beverages and snacks, and Friesland Campina Wamco Nigeria Plc, producer of the Peak Evaporated Milk brand clinched the second and third positions respectively.
Promasidor Nigeria Limited, which is passionate about the safety of its work force, was applauded for keeping a healthy environment not only in its own premises, but also in the neighbouring Isolo community of Lagos.
The BKIP competition, which is also referred to as Total Compliance Inspection Competition, is aimed at encouraging MAN members to adhere to environmental regulations and standards, and also to improve their environmental friendliness.
In its commitment to a transparent and credibility process, MAN ensured that members of the award committee were drawn from the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), Federal Ministry of Environment, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), practising Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) professionals in the manufacturing industry and Ikeja MAN representatives.
Areas of inspection by the officials included external and internal premises, utilities, solid waste management, effluent treatment plant where applicable, pollution abatement, use of relevant and quality personal protective equipment, green-life and general aesthetics, government certifications as well as general good housekeeping.
Other areas included usage of marked pedestrian walk-way, which was commended, noise level in the factories was within the acceptable standard, and the environmental audit report, fire certificate, among others were current and valid.
Promasidor Nigeria Limited, whose products range from milk powders, culinary and beverages, has always affirmed that a healthy environment is crucial for the growth of any business and for the community where it operates. It is spearheading tree planting, an initiative that has been commended by the Lagos State Government.
The Head Legal and Public Relations, Mr. Andrew Enahoro stated that Promasidor has been keeping to healthy environment regulations. He stressed that it was essential for businesses to adhere to environmental laws in order to thrive and also for the benefit of people living within the locality.
Enahoro emphasised collaboration between organisations and government in order to achieve a healthy environment that is free from pollution and also make the society safe for living despite the threat of global warming. He said that Promasidor’s efforts in keeping its environment healthy have endeared it to its host community, Isolo.
Enahoro explained that in the pursuit of a greener environment, the company had installed eco-friendly equipment at its premises, which have eliminated health risk to staff and people in its locality. The company generates electricity from industrial gas supply and this feeds into the main electricity supply of the organisation. This has greatly helped PNL to reduce noise and pollution levels from the use of diesel generating sets, being used to complement the epileptic power supply in the country. Promasidor also uses solar powered security lights.
This is in line with what is widely practised in other developed economies where private organisations are meant to generate some percentage of the required power for the production and delivery of their products and services. This process does not produce any form of pollution and is one of the cleanest sources of energy. In comparison with other sources of power generation, solar energy promotes the essence of keeping the environment green in compliance with regulations from government.
Other efforts in compliance with healthy environment included the change from diesel powered to gas powered forklift machines and improved waste management plan through waste sorting, the use of wind powered extractor fans, conversion from conventional to eco-friendly air-conditioners and conversion from diesel powered or public power supply plants to gas powered plants.
The change from diesel to gas powered forklifts and generators has helped in reducing the dangers from diesel exhaust. Some of the health hazards averted range from irritation of the eyes and nose, headaches and nausea, to respiratory disease and lung cancer caused by air pollution.
Similarly, in order to avert pollution of the atmosphere and to maintain good health standard for the people of Isolo community, Promasidor Nigeria has adopted a more suitable waste management plan through waste sorting. This hygienic method of waste management has helped in maintaining a healthy environment as it involves a process whereby waste is separated into different elements, depending on its substance.
The company stated that it is a better approach because waste ending up in landfills produces leachate and landfill biogas that contaminate water and pollute the air. Biogas contains mainly methane, a greenhouse gas that is 25 percent more powerful than carbon dioxide. Indeed, the management of waste through the sorting process shows how much PNL has the interest of people within its locality at heart.
Also, the use of eco-friendly air-conditioners has reduced the noise that would have been generated from the conventional equipment used by other organisations. The units are designed and manufactured with materials that are safe for the environment.
While the conventional air conditioners release emissions from fluorocarbon refrigerant, these eco-friendly units installed by Promasidor Nigeria uses hydro fluorocarbon refrigerant which does not have adverse effect on the ozone. When these units are no longer usable, they are more easily broken down without adding to non-biodegradable trash because they are not made up of dangerous materials.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government and LASEPA have expressed their gratitude to Promasidor for not only believing in an eco-friendly environment but also living it. During one of the tree planting campaigns, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, through his representative Mrs Adetola Onisarotu of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, said that Promasidor’s green house initiatives are worthy of emulation. The Governor urged other corporate organisations to take a cue from the commitment of Promasidor to safety in the work environment and in its locality.