By Chioma Obinna

The Society of Occupational and Environmental Health Physicians of Nigeria, SOEHPON, has urged investors and employers to always strike a balance between work and life by paying attention to the health of the workforce in order to achieve a work-life as well as s

The occupational professionals who spoke in Lagos at their 2022 Annual Conference/ AGM agreed that desirable work shouldn’t affect individuals’ health.

In his keynote address, themed: “Occupational Health and Business Continuity”, the Managing Director/ Chief Executive of NLNG, Dr Philip Mshelbila, said the health and safety of all employees are closely linked to the company’s productivity in all workplaces.

Mshelbila said occupational health is invariable, a safeguard for economic perpetuity, adding that its priorities ensure that employees work in healthy environments thus sustaining their productivity and sense of personal well-being into the future.

He said the well-being sought for the individual translates to the teams they work in and to the general health of the business and its local environment, in view of its sustainability and continuity.

Explaining that occupational health is commonly stretched to encompass health and safety which has a multi-dimensional approach to the working standard and welfare of people at the workplace, he said the optimal workplace should ensure safe, healthy conditions to promote production, prevent Lost Time Injuries (LTI); align with health, safety, and environmental regulations and cater to the mental health and behavioural inclinations of employees.

He said at  NLNG, the business activity has helped the environment through the reduction of gas flares in the country; from 65 per cent to 20 per cent.

“This idea pushes forward a three-webbed focus – employees carry out their job functions in a healthy environment, the businesses operate within a healthy local business environment, and the businesses do not contribute to the deterioration of the environments within which they operate. Better still, the businesses through sustainable partnerships elevate the status of the environments where they operate.”

Speaking, the President of the Society, Dr. Uche Enuma, said, “ occupational health simply put has to do with how our work is affected by our health and how health will affect our work.”

On his part, the National Secretary of the society, Dr Ntia Nsikak who acknowledged the need for government to begin to engage Nigerians across the board from the leadership, and legislation to strengthen instruments of laws in workplaces, regretted that despite the beautiful laws in place enforcement has remained a challenge.

He described occupational health as the health of the workplace, adding that occupational health laws are put together to enhance individuals’ health and their work.

“There is a huge gap in Nigeria and that is what we are trying to fill for instance you cannot compare what is being done in the developed world and in countries like Nigeria but the important thing is for us to connect.

“In Nigeria, if you go to the multinational companies they do that a lot.  But it is becoming a bigger thing post-COVID and that is why we are here to find ways to address this for us to survive in business. “

The Treasure of the Society, Mr. Ayo Agboola, submitted that though there are gaps in the country’s workplaces, there was a need to begin to monitor the health of individuals in workplaces so that at the earliest sign of departure from health, quick interventions can be employed to make sure that work doesn’t permanently impact on their health and productivity.

“This is the key message that we want everybody to appreciate. Employers of labour should check on the health of their workers so that productivity can be sustained. It’s more like your car, if you continue to service your car, it will serve you endlessly. If you continue to service the health of your workers, they will work for you endlessly, productivity will be sustained and then your bank account will rise which is what is of interest to employers. The employers can then have more money to spend on the workers to keep them healthy and keep the workforce going.”

On his part, the National Public Relation Officer, Dr Charles Onigbogi said occupational medicine and professionals are key to all professions, as everybody including the medical doctors needs them to ensure that their health is well catered for. 

“We are key to every business activity, no matter the profession, we are needed everywhere.   We need to emphasise that it is time for occupational health professionals should come on board and ensure that healthwise, across all workplaces, we have a healthy workforce.”

According to the Group Managing Director of NISA Premier Medical Group, Dr. Musa Shaibu, the conference was designed to bring together many occupational physicians and aspiring physicians including the medical students to discuss topical issues all aimed at sharing information and then encouraging others as well to come into the field

On the theme of the conference, he said business continuity is key to profitability and productivity and the key asset in productivity remains the manpower to be continuously working.

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