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FG CALLS FOR IMPROVED OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY, HEALTH 

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By AKOR SYLVESTER-Abuja
Federal Government has called for improved safe and healthy working environment and conditions, especially in the informal sector, for the protection of both employees and employers.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ms Kachollom S. Daju, made the call in Abuja, as she flagged off the Stakeholders’ Workshop on the Validation of Action Checklist on Strengthening the Capacity of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to produce high-quality Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Healthcare-related products.
Daju noted that a safe and healthy workplace would not only provide protection against injury and illness, but would also enhance productivity, which would ultimately lead to increased national economic growth.
She stated that the Nigerian economy “is grown largely by MSMEs, with about 80% of employments in the informal sector, thus need to radically improve the nation’s safety and health culture to minimize work-related accidents and diseases.”
The Permanent Secretary, represented by Director, Occupational Safety and Health in the Ministry, Lauretta Adogu, noted that the checklist would assist MSMEs “in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic by assessing the risk to the enterprise and ensuring that the workplace is prepared for any future epidemic.”
Daju disclosed that the Federal Government, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and other social partners have been working together to strengthen the capacity of MSMEs, as well as raise awareness on “workplace prevention of COVID-19, and measures to ensure safety and health at work with particular focus on the production of PPE and healthcare-related products.”
The Permanent Secretary enjoined the stakeholders to employ their professional and technical skills in deliberating on the checklist, to bring it in conformity with international best practices, and to help the MSMEs minimize work-related accidents and diseases.
She stated that inputs from the validation meeting of stakeholders would add optimal value to the overall performance of National Occupational Safety and Health Management System in Nigeria.
Earlier, the ILO Country Director, Ms Vanessa Phala, stated that the Action Checklist on OSH would support enterprises in building a culture of safety and health at work.
She said, “Using illustrations adapted to the Nigerian context, the Checklist provides an easy-to-use tool for MSMEs to review their operations in a number of priority areas, including the prevention of COVID-19. “
Phala disclosed that following the negative impact of COVID-19 on MSMEs  globally, “the Government of Nigeria and the United Nations system devised a project aimed at strengthening the capacity of local MSMEs and manufacturers to produce high quality PPEs and healthcare related products.”
She stated that the Project has been working with about 174 local MSMEs across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria, promoting safety and health at work among those and other enterprises.
Stakeholders at the workshop include Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

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