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Why Lagos leads in safety awareness ; Mr. Adeyinka Adebiyi

By JOHN OGUNSEMORE

Mr. Adeyinka Adebiyi is a passionate safety advocate and Director of Public Safety and Wellbeing at Lagos State Safety Commission with core competence in safety skills development. In this interview with HSENations, he talks about the importance of Education the first of the tripod of safety practice. He equally delves into the impact his book, Essentials of Safety and Health, has had on improving public knowledge of safety in the state and Nigeria as a whole. He also highlights what HSE professionals must do to improve their rating in their workplaces. Excerpt

For the benefit of our readers, sir, can we get to meet you?

Thank you very much. My name is Adeyinka Adebiyi. I am a technical and vocational educationist. I attended University of Nigeria, Nsukka for a degree in Vocational and Technical Education. Before then, Id been a technical teacher, and Head of Department Electrical Electronics at Government Technical College, Ikorodu, Lagos. I am a grassroot person. I attended Technical College myself. After Technical College Education, I went to College of Education (Technical) for a certificate in Technical Education and afterwards won a scholarship to proceed for a 3-year course at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. I joined Lagos State Safety Commission on January 23rd, 2013, as a Director in charge of Safety Skills Development now Safety Training, Education and Skills Development; having spent 15 years in the mainstream of the public service of Lagos State. I have been involved in advocating and sensitizing the public on safety and part of my contribution to bring safety culture in the state is the book that I wrote which is Essentials of Safety and Health. The book essentially is for public safety. It dwells so much on home safety, roads, inland waterways and commuter safety, school safety, fire management and fire prevention, introduction to first aid, Event Centre Safety and so on.

Why Lagos leads in safety awareness ; Mr. Adeyinka Adebiyi
Why Lagos leads in safety awareness ; Mr. Adeyinka Adebiyi

You’ ve been a passionate advocate for health and safety in the state and the country. What informed your passion?

I honestly do not know but I recall when I was in the university and was asked to submit for a project topic, because as a teacher in technical college and a product of technical college myself, we dealt with machines, equipment and again the environment of technical college has to do with manipulative skills, hence safety skills come in. So when it was time to choose a topic for my project in the university my friend suggested, Why not choose safety? I said, fine; its a good one. We had a 2-unit course called Industrial Safety already and I think I got an A+ so that made me fall in love with safety and when I chose a project topic, its Factors Affecting the Industrial Safety of Workers in the Manufacturing Industries using Ikorodu Industrial Estate as a case study. Ever since, the interest developed. More so I attended a program somewhere in Ikorodu, Occupational Safety for teachers of technical colleges. One of the facilitators came to my class and said there’s a Safety Commission in Lagos State now and the head of the organization is a woman. I said fine. So I decided to go see the head of organization. She conducted a brief interview and there and then she discovered my passion for safety, she started working on how to get me into Lagos State Safety Commission. Then I was at LASU undergoing my Masters degree in Public Administration to compliment my first degree. So that’s how we started and I have not stopped and I have been up and doing since then.

 

The title of your book is Essentials of Safety and Health. Why the topic and why did you decide to write a book?

I did not just decide to write a book, I discovered that most books written on safety and health were foreign books and mostly on occupational safety and health. This does not mean that no expert could write books in Africa or Nigeria. All those books written by foreigners were not really domesticated to fit in into our own clime. I have not seen any textbook that would look at the topic on public safety. Most of these books are occupational safety and health so there is this dearth in public safety books hence my passion to actually settle for public safety. That’s why I gave the book that name because it deals entirely with human living either you’re a worker or seeking for employment, or jobless. All these concern every living individual because it talks about the home, roads etc. Were aware there are a lot of hazards in our homes, roads, waterways, events centers etc. I had to put all of these together to make a book. That was what brought about the book because as an individual if you’re able to read this book the likelihood of getting injured or getting into an accident on the road, homes, waterways, events, is slim. The book is as a result of all my presentations since 2014 till date. That was what I packaged as a book.

Why Lagos leads in safety awareness ; Mr. Adeyinka Adebiyi
Why Lagos leads in safety awareness ; Mr. Adeyinka Adebiyi

What has been the impact of the book? How do you gauge its acceptance by the general public and within the state itself, you know being a civil servant?

The impact has been great in the sense that when the book was launched on the 28th of April 2021, recall every 28 of April is World Day for Safety and Health Mr Lanre Mojola, our able Director-General and Chief Executive Officer, Lagos State Safety Commission, procured 500 copies of the book. Some institutions have also bought Lagos State Library Board, Ministry of Education etc. the book is being used as a reference.

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Could you highlight some topics in this book?

I would say its a living book in the sense that everything that has to do with human existence and living are the topics there in.

Home safety. I talked about the home environment itself. How do you ensure that everything in your home and environment are hazards free? Apart from that, roads and inland waterways transportation. Do you check your car very well before leaving home each day? How do you ensure that you’re the only good driver on the road? Look at the inland waterways. Are they wearing their life jackets and are all belts well used? Are you boarding the boat at night where the rider cant even see clearly? How good are our waterways? Overloading, over speeding. Then we talked about Fire Prevention and Management. Even in workplaces, at home, do you conduct risk assessment? You’re not supposed to store petroleum products at home. We talked about event center safety. Then talked about introduction to first aid, Health and Wellbeing, Rainy Season Safety etc.

 

What do you expect to see happening in our society as a result of this book? And what is the next project for you?

The book is for public safety and for all households. I’ve also commenced another one. I don’t know whether to call it occupational safety because the word occupation is very common to most textbooks you see, but I call my own Workplace Safety and Health and that’s going to be another work entirely. I just completed chapter one. I expect that all households should procure this book and should be adopted by all schools in Nigeria universities, colleges of education, polytechnics, secondary schools. In fact, its not out of place if there’s a curriculum on safety in our schools. From there we catch them young. Its not about money but inculcating the culture of safety in our society and this book has given us that opportunity, also it gives a different perspective about the way things are handled safely.

How will you describe safety awareness among our people in Lagos state and Nigeria as a whole because you know we have recent issues that has to do with public safety and people getting injured and attacked?

Statistics on safety awareness comparing Lagos state with other states shows Lagos is number one and has more than 70 percent awareness on safety and health, this is not because I work for the state government. I recall when I got to safety commission. We went round all the local governments in Lagos state for awareness walk and safety sensitization in the area of public safety. We have trained staff in workplaces in Lagos state on best practice and safety culture.
Safety to me stands on a tripod education, engineering, and enforcement. Inside the triangle, you have standards, so education includes training, sensitization, advocacy. Engineering includes conducting safety audits in industries, ensuring they observe safety practices. Having done all of these and people still do not adhere to safety standards, enforcement comes in. Enforcement is not the first, it comes last. That is when you have done education, engineering and people still are not complying, enforcement comes in. Lagos State Safety Commission being the first in Nigeria and in Sub-Saharan Africa has done so much to ensure that people in Lagos are taught about safety culture and follow it from time to time. We inspect workplaces and points out where there are infractions, ask them to remove the infraction(s) and ensure they are removed. Safety does not go on holidays, its a 24hour process. Once it does, then the entire society is finished.

 

What is your final word for the safety profession? is there any issues you feel that should be addressed within the safety industry?

Why Lagos leads in safety awareness ; Mr. Adeyinka Adebiyi

We thank God for the establishment of Lagos State Safety Commission, similarly we give glory to Almighty God for the existence of the Institution of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON) a chartered institution. Mr. Governor, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-olu values life, hence his frowning at workplaces not abiding with safety standards and best practice. Recall during the peak of Covid-19, Lagos State Safety Commission was and is the front-runner to ensure that Lagosians follow all safety protocols. The Commission has done a lot in ensuring that workplaces, event centers, public places imbibe safety culture. Through factory inspection, safety audit of work processes etc, the Commission has been able to reduce accident, injury and fatalities.

For the safety professionals in Nigeria, work cant stop. they must be up and doing because they are the only people that will ensure that the rate of accidents, fatalities, are reduced in our society especially our workplaces. They shouldn’t be armchair safety professionals any longer where they would sit in the office why people are working at height without proper use of PPE. Every safety professionals especially those who are working in the factory or industry must ensure that they go all out from time to time to inspect those who refuse to comply with safety standards and they must also write reports. Its very important. If a safety professional is moving round the industry and sees a worker standing on a ladder without PPE, they should ask the person to come down and do the needful. Then write it down in the report, HR in workplaces don’t value safety professionals because they don’t write reports and hence they think they’re not doing anything. Even water spill on the floor is a report. Write your report! With that, they will know you’re doing your work. They must ensure they write report for whatever incident they see and that means they’re doing their work. Its very important.

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