World Day for Safety and Health at Work: The Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said that the ongoing reforms in the state’s critical institutions place high premium on workers’ safety.
According to Obaseki, “Safety is a critical component of our overall work design and execution and it is a major point of reference by our local and international partners in project analysis. We have intensified the safety campaign because it is essentially about the life of a worker.”
The governor stated this on the occasion of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, celebrated on April 28 each year, by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to promote safe, healthy and decent work.
According to the United Nations, “A national occupational safety and health culture is one in which the right to a safe and healthy working environment is respected at all levels.”
The global body notes that such culture includes “where governments, employers and workers actively participate in securing a safe and healthy working environment through a system of defined rights, responsibilities and duties, and where the highest priority is accorded to the principle of prevention.”
Obaseki explained that the state government’s multi-sector reforms have commenced with institutional framework being strengthened to ensure safety rules are adhered to at construction and other project sites.
“We are committed to a bouquet of robust health and safety rules as well as the regular retraining of safety and health officers that monitor and supervise jobs to ensure that laid down safety rules are not compromised at the work place. We will blacklist contractors that fail to adhere to safety rules.”
Other aspects of the reforms according to the governor includes “project certification by credible international safety and health organisations, to sustain the tempo and raise the safety bar from time to time, in line with global best practice.”
Obaseki lauded the wisdom of the ILO in the choice of this year’s theme: “Occupational Safety Health (OSH) Vulnerability of Young Workers” and the agency’s decision to combine the celebration of the World Day Against Child Labour with the World Day for Safety and Health at Work.
“By bringing the growing exploitation of children and young workers under the global spot light, all stakeholders will interrogate labour laws, policies and practices and carry out the needed reforms,” he added.
The governor challenged employers of labour with obnoxious practices that render the work place a killing field for young and older workers alike, to put the right structures in place to guarantee workers’ safety.
“In some work places, there are no safety rules and where some rules exist, they are observed in breach. Workers’ protection against hazard is under-estimated and incidents and accidents are rampant. My administration will not tolerate such inhuman practices and we will stop any job that exposes workers to any danger,” he said.
He assured that the state government frowns at child labour and has commenced the deployment of education marshalls to ensure children of school age are in school and not hawking or loitering.
He further said that “Our Child Right Act and policy are legal bulwarks for children in Edo State and we are committed to implementing their provisions.”
The UN notes that the joint campaign to improving the safety and health of young workers and end child labour, “aims to accelerate action to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 8.8 of safe and secure working environments for all workers by 2030 and SDG target 8.7 of ending all forms of child labour by 2025.
“The 541 million young workers (15-24 years old) – which includes 37 million children in hazardous child labour – account for more than 15 per cent of the world’s labour force and suffer up to a 40 per cent higher rate of non-fatal occupational injuries than adult workers older than 25.”