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The need to be productive with minimal exposure to Occupational Health risk has become an integral issue in the front burner within the International Labour Organisation and World Health Organisation. As much as this has raised so much concern, i am particularly worried over the lack of zeal and interest of most countries in paying attention to the global outcry and giving full participation in supporting a healthy and risk free work environment.

Come 28th April 2013, countries across the world will be pitching tents at different geographical locations to celebrate an ILO initiative called “World Day for Safety and Health at Work”. This program is celebrated every year on April 28 using different themes based on risk prevalence or disease trends as communicated by ILO. The theme for this year’s celebration is “The Prevention of Occupational Diseases”.

You will agree with me that this year’s theme could not have come in a better time than this taking into consideration the disregard that Occupational Diseases have suffered across many sectors of the world because of perhaps the desire to post huge profit with high compromise to the safety and health of employees or in some cases complete irresponsibility displayed by business owners and managers towards the Occupational Health plight of workers. Of late, there have been some controversies from different quarters on where to draw the line or balance the difference between working safely and working productively bearing the mind that profit is the primary reason why businesses exist.

In my opinion, in as much as every business goal is to remain profitable to the owners, we should also understand we can also remain profitable without necessarily killing and maiming people at the altar of profits. We remain even more profitable by embracing the concept of health and safety in our workplaces; it is more expensive to manage accidents than working safely. One cardinal regrets on the long term impact of the work we do on our overall health is that the eventual outcome of the effects of what we have been exposed to takes a long time to manifest and sometimes this is even after we have retired fully from work. He that works unsafely today should bear in mind there are deposits you have made which your health must draw from in time to come. Should we then continue in this manner? Will this guaranty a sustainable future? Should not we rather preserve the lives of these experienced and aged employees who are potential victims of Occupational diseases? Wouldn’t it have been better if they remain reservoir of knowledge and experience to the younger ones? Wouldn’t this contribute to Nation’s building? These and many more are questions begging for answers. Remember, the death of an elder is as good as a library burnt down, that is how history puts it.

I also feel effective organisational policies will help to forestall this ugly trends that impacts negatively on the lives of employees in their work places. But my big question is, are there enabling Occupational Health and Safety legislations in most countries to support the policies?  Perhaps the west that has reasonably good enabling legislations but why is Africa left out in this global movement that advocates sustainable development? Isn’t this an integral part of the MDG program?

If Africa is really the future global market as predicted by virtually all the renowned and respected Economists and Investment Analysts, shouldn’t Africa be at this point be at the forefront in advocating for global best practices knowing our environment, our workplaces have become the spotlight of most investors across many continents even as have been evident, Asia. This is again an indication that Africa is a reactive continent and perhaps this sums up the reason why we have not been able to embrace the concept of Occupational Health and Safety which hinges not on REACTIVE but PROACTIVE dispositions. We cannot pretend not to know the impact of these incoming investments on our environment and the health of the African people. There are a number of global economic alliances happening across Africa with the BRICS economic initiative comprising of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, there are also other happening between Nigeria and other countries. These are all investment machineries focusing on boosting trade in Africa and with Africans; good as it sounds we need to think the processes through and mitigate possible short and long term effects of these business environments for the good of all.

Let us quickly ask ourselves the following questions:

Is Occupational Health and Safety legislation process different from other bill passage processes?

If no, why the reluctance in passing this most wanted bill?

Every retired parent has a child that is gainfully employed somewhere and every child has a parent that works in some workplace, it is the way this Occupational Health and Safety issue connects us all. If we keep quiet because we have retired from active service what about our children who just got in? If we cannot speak out because we are still young and in school yet to join the labour workplace, what of our working parents? This issue concerns us all, keep not quiet but speak out where ever and whenever you have the opportunity. The safety of everyone should be everyone’s concern.

If each one can touch each one then everyone can touch every one, what a safe place the word will be. Let’s do what we can today, for the night cometh when no man can work.

Salus Populi Suprama Lex  “The safety of the people is the supreme law”.

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Ehi Iden






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Ehi Iden editor