As the world commemorates the 2022 Word Day for Safety and Heath, the International Labour Organisation, ILO, estimates that around 2.9 million workers die every year due to occupational accidents and diseases while about 402 million people suffer from non-fatal occupational injuries.
The ILO Office in Nigeria, represented by Dr Runo Onosode gave the figure in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital during activities to mark the World Day for Safety and Health.
According to the ILO, “examining 41 pairs of specific risk factors and health outcomes, the WHO/ILO Joint Estimates indicate that work-related diseases were responsible for 81 per cent of all work-related deaths, with deaths due to occupational injuries accounting for the remaining 19 per cent of work-related deaths.
“The occupational risk factor with the largest number of attributable deaths with exposure to long working hours (resulting in 745,000 related deaths), followed by exposure to particulate matter, gases and fumes – resulting in 450,000 deaths”.
It stressed that not only do occupational injuries and illness cause immeasurable human suffering to victims and their families, they also entail major economic losses for enterprises and economies as a whole which it said may be measured in terms of health care costs, compensation costs, production losses, reduced work capacity and lower workforce participation.
“Occupational accidents and diseases are estimated to contribute to 5.4 per cent of annual global gross domestic product (GDP) lost”, the ILO said.
Speaking, the Nigerian government said that the participation and cooperation of all relevant stakeholders in Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) is crucial in protecting work environments and promoting the safety and health of workers in the country.
Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo, Said that such meaningful participation by relevant parties would promote a strong OSH system, which is crucial in protecting the work environment and ultimately safeguarding the safety and health of workers.
Represented by the Director Overseeing the Office of the Permanent Secretary, Dr John Magbadelo, Keyamo stated that the continued collaboration and cooperation of all stakeholders, across all sectors, would lead to achieving the highest level of safety, health and wellbeing of all workers in the country.
He noted that the theme for this year’s commemoration, “Act together to build a positive Safety and Health culture”, emphasised the importance of collective action by all stakeholders to guard the health and safety of workers.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we had seen that having a strong OSH system, which includes meaningful participation of governments, employers, workers, public health actors and all relevant parties at the national and enterprise level, has been crucial in protecting working environments and safeguarding the safety and health of workers”.
Keyamo stated that the federal government remained committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment for workers, in line with the ILO agenda for decent work.
“The federal government is consistently taking proactive steps towards achieving a safe and healthy working environment through national programmes, legislations and collective agreements on Occupational Safety and Health, in line with ILO agenda for decent work”.
He commended the International Labour Organisation in driving the improvement of Occupational Safety, Health, and Welfare of the Nigerian workers, as well as its commitment to building a positive safety and health culture.
Activities for the commemoration of the Day included road show/rally, medical outreach, distribution of posters, flyers and other Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials, all aimed at promoting a healthy culture at work.
Present at the symposium were representatives of International Labour Organisation (ILO), Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), World Safety Organisation, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) and the Federal Fire Service among others.