Dr. Oluwagbemi Colloquium: Despite ISPON Act, Nigerian Safety Professionals Lament Lack of ‘Enabling, Stable’ Legislation


In what appears a dig at the ISPON Act 2014 and the institute created therefrom, safety professionals in Nigeria have lamented the lack of an “enabling and stable” legislation for the regulation of the industry and registration of professionals.

This was part of observations made at the maiden Dr B.F Oluwagbemi Annual Safety Colloquium organised by all safety professional and advocates group in Nigeria which held in Alausa-Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday, June 12.

“There is currently no enabling and stable Act registering safety professionals in Nigeria to offer regulation and structure to the practice of the profession in Nigeria,” the professionals observed in a professional discourse session of the programme, according to the communique of the colloquium sent to Safety Record Newspaper.

Section 2 & 3 of the ISPON Act 2014 empowers the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON) to, among other functions, “establish and maintain a register of persons entitled to practice as” safety professionals and “regulate the practice of safety management” in Nigeria.

However, since the enactment of the Act, the institute has been enmeshed in one controversy or the other, which observers say have rendered her unable to effectively carry out her statutory responsibilities.

According to the communique, it was resolved that “all stakeholders in discharging OSH duties must appreciate and perform their obligations conferred on them by appropriate laws.”

In the 16-point communique issued at the end of the colloquium, professionals also attacked the Employee Compensation Act 2010, saying the Act “refers to a non-existent commission and NSITF (Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund) state offices for the implementation of certain key postulates like employee accident claims, etc.”

The professionals while advocating for the repeal of the Act, noted “or the NSITF should, in conjunction with relevant bodies, establish other relevant councils as the law stipulates to see to the implementation of this legislation.”

Furthermore, the professionals lamented the apparent apathy to holding political office among safety professionals, blaming the trend on perceived disadvantages to the practice of safety profession in the country, including inability to influence government policy.

“Occupational Safety & Health professionals should take more interest in state politics and in public policy formulations so as to be able to contribute to the development and effective implementation of these policies,” the professionals stated.

Similarly, the professionals decried the “little or no firm incident data from industries in Nigeria,” and recommended that “efforts should be put together by professional bodies and statutory bodies to develop incident/accident data base to ease research and prevention of recurrence.”

Furthermore, the communique read, “There is need for reliable data collection, collation, analysis and presentation system to make a national safety score card.

“The Federal Ministry of Labour and all concerned Agencies like the Nigeria Police Force, FRSC, NEMA, Fire Service, etc. together with the National bureau of statistics should put together an authoritative and reliable data collection, collation, analysis and presentation system to make a national safety score card.”

Blaming infringement of fundamental human rights in Nigeria largely on ignorance of relevant Occupational Safety and Health legislations, the professionals recommended that “massive public enlightenment should be provided on occupational safety and health legislations in the country.

“Hence, the Factories Act must be repealed so that it is in tune to modernity so as to promote safety culture, achieve a reduction in accidents including loss of lives, property damages and fire, enhance effective enforcement, add positive value to businesses and support the employment drive of the government.”

The colloquium themed “Driving Occupational Safety & Health with Legislation and Strategic Actions,” also had presentation by two distinguished OSH consultants and speakers.

Lecturer, Nigeria Law School and Legal Consultant on OSH Matters, Dr Titilola Hameed spoke on OSH Leal Framework – Creating a Convenient Soft Landing; and Medical Advisor, APM Terminal, Dr Layiwola Ogunjobi, spoke on Nigeria National Occupational Safety and Health profile.

Chaired by former HSE Manager of Exxon Mobil Nigeria, Chief Kofi Sagoe, the colloquium was organised to uphold the legacies of the doyen of OSH in Nigeria, Dr Bamisayo Oluwagbemi, who passed on to glory on June 3, 2016, the communique said in the communique.

The coalition of safety professional and advocacy groups that organised the event include the Safety Advocacy & Empowerment Foundation (SAEF), Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON), World Safety Organisation (WSO-Nigeria), American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE-Nigeria) and Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH-Nigeria).

Others include Occupational Safety & Health Association (OSHA), HSEQ Professionals Nigeria, International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (IIRSM – Nigeria) and National Industrial Safety Council of Nigeria (NISCN).