Nigerian Government vows to safeguard workplace

Helen Shok Jok & Martha Obi, Abuja

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, says the Nigerian Government is committed to safeguarding the safety and health of persons in employment as enshrined in the Constitution.

Dr Ngige disclosed this while addressing stakeholders at an occasion in Abuja to commemorate The World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

He called for the active participation and collaboration of all stakeholders in the development of stress prevention programmes especially in the workplace.

The theme, of the 2016 celebration is “Workplace Stress: a Collective Challenge.”

Ngige said the Federal Government would ensure full implementation of its policy towards ensuring that health and safety and welfare of workers were safeguarded and not endangered and or abused.

“Stress at work is becoming a common and costly problem in the workplace. Today, many workers are facing greater pressure in relation to the conditions and demands of modern working life.

“Beyond psychosocial risk factor, the workplace is becoming more stressful and work-related stress is now generally acknowledged as global issue affecting all countries and this have direct influence on workers’ safety and health,” he said.

The Minister noted that the International Labour Organisation estimated that four per cent of the world’s annual GDP was lost as a consequence of occupational diseases and accidents.

Ngige said employers should assess the workplace for the risk of stress for its effective management and control.

Occupational Safety

According to him, the National Policy on Occupational Safety and Health stipulates that the duty of every employer is to ensure practicable safety, health and welfare of all workers.
“This duty extends to protecting workers from the risk of harm, from stressors at work. This will go a long way towards improving workers well-being, job satisfaction, personal development and increased productivity,” he said.

The annual celebration is expected to be a time to intensify promotion, prevention of occupational accidents and disease globally with joined annual awareness campaign.

Earlier,  the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr Clement Illoh, said policies and legislations had been developed to prevent accidents and health arising issues in workplace adding that
many workers faced great pressure to meet the demand of modern working life.

According to him, “there is a thin line between stress at work and other aspects of life, as the quota for work is higher. The fear of job, redundancy, layoffs due to uncertain economy, increased demands for overtime due to staff cutbacks, physical exposures, among others are part of workplace stress.

“There is therefore need to create awareness to protect the health of workers,” he said.

Country Director of the International Labour Organisation, Mr Dennis Zulu, said that work place stress was a collective challenge that must be nipped in the bud.

There were goodwill messages from the Nigeria Labour Congress, Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, non-governmental organisations and civil society groups.