Ace comedian, Seyi Law is the host, for the second time, of Nigeria’s premiere and prestigious Safety Award event, 9jaSAFE. The rib-cracking, stand-up comedian is a Special Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and, incidentally, an HSE professional. In this interview with Safety Record Newspaper’s Managing Editor, Femi Da-Silva, Seyi Law shares his journey into HSE and experiences. Excerpt.
How come you know quite a lot about HSE?
First, let me say my name is Seyi Law. That’s what a lot of people know me as. I am a comedian. In 2013, I decided to take a course in Health, Safety and Environment (HSE). I saw an affiliate school with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, United Kingdom, so I decided to take the course. I did level one, two, and three, and by the special grace of God, I came out on the merit list and that was my journey into health and safety.
So, why the interest in Health and Safety?
Well, health and safety was a bit strange to me as a comedian because for every event that I have had to host for a lot of the multinationals, Oil and Gas companies, there’s always a talk about health and safety. First, before the commencement of any event and every time I get to do this for these people, safety was always the main conversation. And that was what led me to do a research on health and safety. I discovered that it is something that everybody should know about and that was why I decided to take the course.
How do you relate health and safety with your industry?
Ever since I acquired the knowledge of Safety, I have made it reflect in my career and how I carry out my task. For example, when I go to compere events, I am always conscious of letting people know the safety measures that should be taken during the course of the event to avoid unwarranted incidents.
This mindset alone has given me an edge and made me more professional as a comedian. With my knowledge of HSE, I can connect with fellow HSE practitioners without being lost.
One challenge we have in my industry is that most of the time we organize comedy concerts or shows and most times we don’t really put health and safety into consideration. During my last show, I had to make sure safety was given priority: we had ambulances on the premises during the course of the show, we had medical personnel on ground to give First Aid incase of any emergencies. Before my event, I made sure I and my team had to go around and monitor the hall to make sure that the cables were properly laid to avoid trips and falls, which is good housekeeping according to health and safety.
Even when we had to use barricades, we made sure that there are personalities there to monitor the closeness to people and so on. These are some of the benefits that health and safety has contributed to adding professionalism to my job.
Do you want to share with us any experience that you’ve had as regards health and safety that has affected you or somebody close toyou?
When it comes to health and safety incidents, I preach all the time that health and safety should go beyond the work place and people at home should learn to practice it. I remember one of my Aunt’s children who drank kerosene from a bottle and that was because it was not properly cocked and a lot of times you go into homes, you hear of gas explosions, you discover that most of these people put their gas cylinders right there inside the house – in places that are very hot.
So labeling in the kitchen should be considered important; bottles and other items in the kitchen should be labeled appropriately. These are some of the little safety practices that should be done at home.
It was quite unfortunate also that my cousin, who lived with me,went to work and was involved in the Niger Biscuits Company explosion. That was his place of work; and though different stories came up, as a health and safety professional, I knew that the company must have been negligent to safety measures to avert some of the dangers that occurred.
I have also heard of reports that families were compensated with N5 million which was not so. It’s a whole lot of thing to fight for. And for victims of such, it’s a sad one.
So we begin to question some of the laws that guide health and safety in our country and some of the compensations that should be in place. It’s very painful and I can go on and on. But the question is what we can do better now? Who is holding these companies responsible for these heinous acts that they commit?
In the course of study, I have also discovered that some of the reserve that happen in several multinational companies and people go as if they are using people for ritual. But it is actually not ritual. They are just simple happenings that were caused by negligence and lack of attention to health and safety.
What can you say about safety in Nigeria from where we are coming from?
Well, as regards safety in Nigeria, we need better laws. Some of the laws are old and are no longer effective for the time that we are in right now. When you read some of our safety laws talking about compensation of N 50,000 – these are old laws from 1970’s; and you begin to wonder, what is really happening? Also, there are very few health and safety consultants to even monitor things for companies. Go to construction sites and you don’t really see anybody who is a health and safety personnel there monitoring to check that the place is neat for people.
A lot has to be done. I can say that Lagos State is trying with some of the new establishments and ministries, but then, we still have a long way to go. This is even an avenue to generate more employment – giving people the opportunity to go and study and become brand executives for companies, to monitor some of these happenings. I believe we have a long way to go and the government can and needs to do a lot in that regard.
Now, this is your second time you are hosting 9jaSAFE Award. What can you say about the award event and why did you choose to get involved?
For me, after I had done health and safety, and I heard about the 9jaSAFE Awards, when I was contacted to be the M.C. I didn’t hesitate to grab the opportunity. This is because I wanted to be able to know and understand from the perspective of those who are practicing in order to learn more about the sector and see some of the precautions that they take; and the safety measures they put in place in their different organizations.
From last year’s award, I saw and learnt a lot and I even had somebody offer me the opportunity to come and do NEBOSH in their school. For me, it’s a great privilege and I will really want to go ahead and do NEBOSH and…
Want to read full article? Subscribe to get Safety Record Newspaper