* We’ll not trade lives of workers for money, says minister
The Federal Government has begun cracking down on companies operating against safety standards and regulations.
The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, on Friday, during an ongoing nationwide inspection operation, visited Metal Manufacturing Nig. Ltd, Sagamu, Ogun State and discovered that the company was operating in violation of safety rules and regulations and therefore sealed off the company till further notice.
She said that the company was exposing its workers to a number of hazards, including chemical substances, noise and dust because it has refused to provide its workers with the necessary safety equipment, such as masks, gloves and boots.
The minister, who was accompanied by the Director of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), Lauretta Adogu, declared government’s resolve to go hard on erring companies operating in unsafe environment that put the lives of workers at risk.
Onyejeocha warned other companies in the country, which treat the safety of their workers with levity, adding that the Federal Government is ready to wield the big stick.
The minister, who described what she witnessed at the factory as horrible, noted that despite several petitions against the company, it remained adamant.
“We cannot continue this way. If they think they know people who will tell them to continue like this, I am telling them that with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it is a different ball game. If you take these workers for medical examination, you will be surprised with the outcome.
“We will not relent till this is addressed. These people working here are our children. These are things they can’t try elsewhere. Is it because of the way the country is? I came here myself to send a message to others that it’s not going to be business as usual. We must take the safety of our workers seriously,” she said.
The minister warned that the government will not hesitate to take action against any company found to be operating in violation of safety standards.
“We have received a lot of petitions against this factory. How they expose workers to danger and refused to operate in line with safety standards.
“The danger the workers here are facing cannot be overemphasized.
“They started running around to cover their faces with masks when they saw us coming. No safety boot, overall suit, no hand gloves, no helmet etc. They were mixing chemical substance with their bare hands as if it’s groundnut,” she stated.
The minister said that the government is taking action to protect the lives of Nigerian workers, adding that the government is working with the Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) to inspect factories and ensure that they are complying with safety standards.