The House of Representatives’ Committee on Safety Standards and Regulations on Monday unveiled plans to roll out legislations and regulations that will enhance health and safety environment in both public and private institutions across the country.
Chairman, House Committee on Safety Standards and Regulations, Hon. Ibrahim Hamza gave the assurance while giving update on the on-the-spot assessment of INTELS and Brawal companies operating at Onne, Port Harcourt, River State.
He said: “The essence of this visit is to carry out an oversight on health and safety matters in Nigeria. A lot have been happening in the country you know there are lots of setbacks relating to health and safety, a lot of issues on fatality, down to ill conditions and so on and so forth. So the 9th National Assembly deems it fit that it creates a standing committee which will go round and ensure that lives and properties of Nigerian citizens are in safe hands and works are being carried out in the right and proper ways.”
Speaking on the on-the-spot assessment of the companies visited, Hon. Hamza said: “It is very obvious and very glaring that there is a great gaps behind local companies and international companies in terms of implementation of health and safety policies. We visited INTELS we saw that they are in compliance to a very high magnitude in terms of health and safety policies.
“The other company we visited which is a local Nigerian company – Brawal, they are also doing well but they are operating below our expectations and we are hoping that there will be improvement because we really sympathize with them because of the nature of the economic situation because there are a lot of challenges but with the involvement of the Parliament, I’m sure we will be able to intervene and come up with laws and regulations that will really aid the progress of their health and safety activities.”
While acknowledging that the local companies are doing badly in terms of implementation of health and safety policies, he tasked them on the “need to step up action that will meet up with international standards and best practices.
In the bid to hold the erring organisations responsible with regards to safety of Nigerians at workplace, Hon. Hamza said: “We are here to create awareness and synergize with them, we are not here to witch-hunt any company. We are actually here to make sure that what is suppose to be obtainable worldwide is obtainable here locally in Nigeria.
“We are on advocacy to make sure that the right things are being done; looking into their challenges, encouraging them also and make sure that they do the right thing, then we are also looking at what they have so far and see how they can up their activities to international best practice.”
He observed that there are extant laws geared toward protection of Nigerian workers across the country, but noted that: “it is obvious that there is a lacuna; there is a need for amendment of that law. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment needs to up its activities to make sure that the reporting line is being enhanced because most of these activities and incidences are not being reported to the right agencies which is part of what we have noticed in our visit today.
“We hope to really look into it, we will call the Department that is in charge of ensuring that these policies are being implemented properly from the Ministry of Labour and Employment. We will make sure that things are being done properly.”
According to him, the Committee has directed the management of both companies to submit relevant NSE documents in line with the check-list produced by the Committee within seven days with the view to ensure compliance with the minimum and basic things we are expecting from them, including compliances to policies issued by the regulatory bodies.
“Once they submit that we will have a check coupled with what we have seen, we will do a report and tell the public what we have seen and proffer solutions to on the way forward,” he assured.
On his part, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Safety Standards and Regulations, Hon. Chinedu Onwuaso affirmed that there are existing laws but stressed for various organisations to comply.
“It is a good step that we have taken, it’s going to expose a lot of things that are not good for our workers in Nigeria and from the interactions that we have had with these companies, they are ready to improve.
“They are ready to train the safety personnel more, abide within the enclaves of the law, that’s why we asked them to submit certain things that have already have and the ones they don’t have, so that we see where we improve on them too. So there is a great chance that our health and safety conditions will improve,” he noted.