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Actualizing Safety Law And Regulation, Where Are We- Ms Sanusi

Secretary to the Lagos State Safety Commission on legal matter, Ms Tola Sanusi has highlighted issues of safety as a critical tool for the development and protection lives and property.

HSENations reports that Ms Tola Sanusi gave the highlights during her presentation at the commission’s safety advocacy programme themed : “Actualisation of Safety Laws and Regulations in Lagos State”

Read Full Presentation Below;

Where are we? Actualizing Safety Laws and Regulations in Lagos State

A.    Where Were we?

Health and Safety Regulations in Lagos- A Peak at History

The inception of OSH regulations/bills in Nigeria runs from the introduction of the Labour Act of 1974 to the passage of the Labour, Safety, Health and Welfare Bill of 2012 (which awaits the presidential assent). During the above period, the Factories Act of 1987 (now known as Factories Act of 1990) which is a substantial revision of the Factories Act of 1958 (i.e. colonial legislation).

The following are applicable laws in the history of Safety Regulations in Nigeria:  Workman’s Compensation Act of 1987, the Labour Act of 1990, the Workman’s Compensation Act of 2004, the Employee’s Compensation Act of 2011 (which repeals the Workman’s Compensation Act of 2004) were introduced. Although some of these laws are criticised as inadequate. For instance, the Factories Act of 1987 does not include the construction industry in the definition of its premises. Furthermore, the severities of penalties stipulated by OSH laws in Nigeria are insignificant; in that offenders are not deterred by the penalties. Thankfully, the new Bill (The Labour, Safety, Health and Welfare Bill of 2012) addresses all the above issues, as it includes the construction industry in the definition of its premises and stipulates severe penalties for violation. This bill covers both the formal and informal industrial sectors in Nigeria. It seeks to repeal the Factories Act and serve as a comprehensive OSH legislation for the workplace.

The Labour, Safety, Health and Welfare Bill of 2012 empowers the National Councilfor Occupational Safety and Health to enforce and implement OSH measures in theworkplace; promote the protection of lives & properties; promote OSH awareness; carry outinspection of the workplaces and monitor the compliance of all regulations or other OSHmeasures enshrined in the Bill. Correspondingly, the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust FundManagement Board implements the Employee’s Compensation Act of 2011, which makesprovisions for compensation for any death, injuries, and diseases or disabilities due to lack of safety inemployment. In the meantime, The Factories Act Cap 126, laws of the federation of Nigeria1990 enables the Inspectorate department of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivityto enforce the minimum safety standard requirements of the Factories Act of 1990 in Nigeria. Theenforcement processes require issuing of warning or notices to offenders, after which thelower level of enforcement, which includes the sealing of a defaulting factory, takes place. Regrettably, this is not practicable in Nigeria in that the resources required are under-estimated and not made available. Also at unhealthy exposures to risks of workers in organizations make it evident that OSH laws are not actualization in Nigeria.

B.     Key Issues to Enforcement of OSH Regulations in Nigeria  

  • Lack of skilled person e.g. insufficient enforcement officers among the challenges to effective food regulation and enforcement in Nigeria
  • The standard of enforcement as there is no uniformity of regulations.
  • Severity of penalties: the penalties for violation of OSH laws can be said to belenient. penalty stipulated by theWorkman’s Compensation Act is as low as 2000 Naira (which is equivalent to £8 where 250Naira = £1), or the premium payable for one year (whichever is greater) when an employerfails to insure the employees against death or injuries; as against the Labour, Safety, Healthand Welfare Bill of 2012, which stipulates severe penalties of up to 500,000 Naira forindividuals, and 2 million Naira for corporate organisations for violating OSH measures.

C.     Health and Safety Provision by Labour Laws

The Labour Act places a qualified obligation upon an employer to provide a safe system of work i.e. to carry out his operations in a manner that complies with safety regulations. Sections 66 and 67 of the Act provide for the creation of Labour Health Areas and the matters in such areas for which regulations can be made. Labour Health Areas are areas designated as such due to their remoteness from modern amenities like medical facilities; water and communications. The matters for which regulations can be made include the provision of sanitary arrangements; supply of water, food and fuel; medical examination of workers; measures to be taken to check spread of infectious diseases; establishment of proper hospitals and employment of qualified medical personnel.

D.    Factories Act

Factories Act places an obligation upon employers/ owners or occupiers of a factory to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees within the factory. Thus, it is the duty of the employer to ensure that the provisions of the Factories Act relating to cleanliness, overcrowding, ventilation, lighting, drainage and sanitary conveniences are complied with.

Furthermore, the Act makes it the duty of the employer to provide a safe means of access and safe place of employment, sections 47 and 48 of the Act also make it mandatory for factory workers to be provided with protective clothing and appliances, where they are employed in any process involving excessive exposure to wet or to injurious or offensive substance. Similarly, where necessary, suitable gloves, footwear, goggles and head coverings should also be provided and maintained for use by the workers.

E.     DUTY OF CARE

There remains however, a common law duty of care that is owed to an employee, which Entails, among other things, the provision of a safe system of work. In the Nigerian case of Western Nigeria Trading Co. Ltd v. Busari Ajao (1965) Nigerian Monthly Law Reports (NMLR), a case where the Respondent had lost an eye as a result of an accident that occurred while working as an employee in the Appellant‟s workshop. One of the points contention between the parties was whether there existed a burden upon under the under common law to not only provide safety goggles but to ensure that the Respondent actually used the goggles. The court held that under common law a duty of care existed to not only provide the goggles but to ensure that the goggles were used by the Respondent.

WHERE WE ARE

F.     LAGOS STATE SAFETY COMMISSION

The Lagos State Safety Commission was inaugurated on the 5th of May 2009 as an office of Public Safety under the Ministry of Special Duties to set safety standards for all sectors involved in the socio-economic activities in the state. The issue of safety is a critical tool for development and protection of valued lives as well as property.

It was signed into law on 26th of July 2011 as full-fledged Lagos State Safety Commission and subsequently began operations. The need for the establishment of the commission was borne out of the dream to build a society that values life through a change in unsafe behavior  and attitude that would increase life expectancy, national productivity and ultimately improve life quality, reduce poverty, accidents and injury, illnesses and diseases, enhance conducive environment for investment and business continuity.

G.       REGULATIONS DEVELOPED AND STATUS

The following regulations have developed and signed to date:

  • The Swimming Pool Safety Regulations
  • The Construction Safety Regulations
  • The Telecoms Safety Regulations
  • The Fire Safety Regulations
  • The Automobile Safety Regulations

H.    THE JOURNEY THUS FAR IN REGARDS TO SAFETY REGULATIONS:

 In 2016 we had the Stakeholders forum on the “Presentation of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations” which was held on the 23rd of February 2016 at the Protea Hotel in GRA. In attendance was the TUC, NLC, NECA, MAN, safety professionals in Lagos state. General safety regulation was explored. The effective safety Law at this time was the Lagos State Safety Commission Law.

In 2017, The Law Forum was on the “The Occupational Safety Regulations” was held at the 3Bees Event Centre, Ketu, Lagos. The Theme was “Achieving Workplace Safety in a Mega Smart City”. The Symposium was aimed at planning safety regulations in Lagos state and reviewing existing safety regulations vis-a-vis occupational safety strategies. The Executive Governor of Lagos State was represented by the Permanent Secretary of MoSD, LASTMA, Ministry of Justice, Lagos Sate Judiciary, Nigeria Bar Association, TUC, NLC, NECA, MAN, safety professionals in Lagos state. The effective safety policy was the Health and Safety Policy Statement which was drafted by the Safety Commission and signed by the Head of Service.

In 2018, the Law Forum was held at Ostra Hall and Hotels behind M.K.O. Gardens on the 22nd of March 2018. The theme was “Law Colloquium on Adherence to Occupational Safety Standards in a Mega City”. The Country Rep for the International Labour Organization Mr Denis Zulu was represented by his colleague Dr Onosode. In attendance was also the Vice Chairman of CIPM Lagos Chapter, Representatives of NECA, TUC, NLC, ISPON, and the DG of the Lagos State Office of Transformation. The regulations developed to this date are as follows:

  • The Swimming Pool Safety Regulations
  • The Construction Safety Regulations
  • The Telecoms Safety Regulations
  • The Fire Safety Regulations
  • The Automobile Safety Regulations

WHERE WE ARE GOING

Our focus will be geared towards the following:

  1. We are working towards reviewing and updating the Commission’s Law.
  2. Developing Regulations for more sectors
  3. Fine tuning the process for Fines and penalties
  4. Developing systems for dispute resolutions in safety related cases in Lagos State Courts

 

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