The Federal Government has called for the adoption of safe practices in the workplace as preventive measures to reduce the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN, made the call Tuesday in Abuja when he spoke on the commemoration of the “World Day for the risk of exposure toSafety and Health at Work, 2020”
In a statement by Mr. Charles Akpan, Deputy Director/Head Press and Public Relations, Keyamo said that by adopting preventive measures such as good hygiene, physical distancing, use of personal protective equipment, PPE, among others, COVID-19 in the workplaces would be lowered.
He disclosed that tens of thousands of workers have died from the pandemic, while many still attend work ill-equipped and without the necessary safety measures in place.
The Minister enjoined employers of labour to ensure safe and healthy working conditions, including managing the risks of exposure to infectious diseases such as COVID-19, and workers, on their part, to cooperate with their employers, and adopt safe and healthy work behaviour, as part of their respective statutory responsibilities.
“To this end, the employer must ensure good hygiene and cleanliness of the workplace, implement physical distancing measures, ensure training of workers on infection prevention and control measures, and provide the required personal protective equipment, in accordance with the guidelines that have been stipulated by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC” he said.
Keyamo added that necessary administrative and engineering controls must also be instituted as required, to reduce risk of transmission of infection in the workplace.
The Minister particularly called for adequate infection and control measures in all health facilities nationwide for the protection of workers in that sector, as they put their lives in line for others during this pandemic, and during other health emergencies.
He noted that the economic and social disruptions occasioned by the pandemic had threatened the health and livelihood of millions of workers.
“It has impacted negatively on the survival of most businesses, particularly the micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises which constitute at least 70% of the nation’s workforce,” he said.
The theme for the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, 2020 is “Stop the Pandemic: Safety and Health at Work can Save Lives”, which the Minister described as fitting, considering the enormous challenge which the spread of the COVID-19 has posed to Governments, employers and workers.
The Minister appreciated the dedication and sacrifice of frontline health workers in sustaining the fight against the pandemic across the globe, and in Nigeria in particular, noting that some had lost their lives in the line of duty.
According to him, ” Government has duly demonstrated its support of the frontline health workers through “the recent roll out of various incentives such as Life Insurance Coverage, and signing of an MOU for payment of various allowances.”
He also commended the essential services providers such as Police officers, Fire fighters Military personnel, Petrol Attendants, Tanker Drivers and others for risking their health to provide those services.
Keyamo gave the assurance of Federal Government’s commitment to ensuring safe, healthy, and decent work for all, and called on all Nigerians to support the effort of Government in stopping the further spread of the COVID-19.
He stressed the concern of Government about workers resuming work in a manner that would sustain current efforts at suppressing transmission of the disease
The Minister disclosed that activities planned for the commemoration of this year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work had to be shelved in adherence to the guidelines on physical distancing and ban on public gathering, occasioned by the pandemic.
The World Day for Safety and Health at Work, celebrated every year on the 28th of April, is a day set aside by the International Labour Organization for focus of international attention on the prevention of work-related accidents, injuries, diseases and deaths globally.
In the same vein, the, Director, Occupational Health and Safety Department in the Ministry, Dr Ifeoma A. Anyanwutaku (Mrs), noted that the theme for this year’s “World Day for Safety and Health at Work” is in line with the present global realities, as “it focuses on the role that safety and health measures can play in stopping the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as many health workers are now getting infected with the disease”.