Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has called on the National Assembly to initiate a new Occupational Safety Health Bill to ensure the safety and health of the Nigerian workforce.
The Head of Occupational Health and Safety (OSH), Mrs Maureen Onyia-Ekwuazi, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday.
She said that the enactment had become imperative to protect workers in case of injury or sickness that might arise in the course of their employment.
She said such a bill must be passed into law as soon as possible.
Onyia-Ekwuazi said that a previous attempt to pass a similar bill was aborted mid-stream in the 6th National Assembly.
“The previous National Occupational Safety Health bill suffered a lot of setbacks in the Sixth Assembly.
“In fact, the House of Representatives had passed the bill from the first to the third reading, including holding a public hearing on it.”
She, however, said that the bill was later abandoned in the senate.
“Then precisely 10 to 11 months after the House of Representative had passed it, the House of Representatives then reverse itself, saying that the bill could not be passed into law.”
She said the enactment of the law would promote the protection of workers in the country and also develop preventive measures against occupational injuries and diseases.
Onyia-Ekwuazi noted that all over the world construction companies had the highest accident rates in the workplaces and those workers suffer greatly in the sector.
“Nigeria is even worst and I know that a lot of complaints come to the NLC through the National Union of Engineering, Construction and Woodworkers’ Union and we have always taken up their complaints.
“We also received serious complaints from the chemical union and most of the time we settle out of court by ensuring that the company involve pays compensation to the workers concern or to their families in case of death.
“Sometimes when we go to court, it takes a number of years and the worker may even die before the compensation gets to him.
“That is why we prefer to settle out of court and get compensation for the worker.
“So, I think that the first thing to be done in Nigeria is to have a standard law to regulate occupational safety health in the country.”
She said that Nigeria was still operating on the revised edition of the 1960 law on the issue.
Onyia-Ekwuazi said it was important for the country to follow the best practices in line with the provisions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) constitution as it affects occupational safety and health. (NAN)

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