IOSH Nigeria: Management is the Culprit in Behavior Based Safety Problem – Engr. Onibudo


A safety professional, Engr. Isaac Onibudo has identified managerial error as a leading cause of workplace accidents globally.

Onibudo, who is the Managing Director of Atlantic Solutions Limited, a safety firm, made this known in a lecture at a monthly IOSH Nigeria Informal Network meeting held in Ikeja, Lagos on Saturday, July 8.

Citing different accident enquiry reports from the United Kingdom, he revealed that majority of the accidents covered in the reports were found to have been caused by behavioral lapses.

Onibudo further explained that these lapses manifested mostly as human error led by error in the management cadre.

He said, “All of these accidents were caused by a whole lot of behavioral factors.

“Looking at those disasters, the two common things that came up in the enquiries were the influence of human error in the chain of events leading to the accident and secondly the failure in the management and organization of safety.

“Those were the two main fallouts of the enquiries into the accidents and many other accidents all over the world. These two basic factors are common.”

In his lecture titled, “Practical Behavioral Based Safety Development and Implementation,” Onibudo stated that various research findings have shown that workplace accidents were preventable if people learnt to do things properly.

“We can prevent a lot of accidents if the human elements there are worked on,” he said.

He stressed, “Behavioral-based safety problem is not actually an employee thing; it’s an organizational problem…

“The worker is not the problem; the problem is with the top management.

“The management is the main problem when things are not working properly.”

The trained engineer said accident causation was not limited to behavioral elements but also involved structural and other elements.

“Generally, in managing health and safety, there are issues that have to do with engineering control, safety management system and behavioral aspect but the behavioral aspect is very key.

“Even though you have proper engineering control in place, it can still by-passed.”

However, he noted that many of the problem factors leading to accidents could be resolved with a proactive management.

Furthermore, Onibudo, who consults for several construction firms in the United Kingdom, said that Nigeria still competes favorably with many countries in Europe despite inadequate occupational health and safety legislation in the country.

Speaking on the safety professional’s role in remedying accident causation, he said the safety professional should change himself, follow the IOSH code of conduct, lead by example, listen aggressively, be passionate about the message of safety, be a good communicator, and also be a practical solution provider.

In another development, the Executive Director, SMTS Nigeria Limted, Mr. Wale Bakare said Nigeria was still at the early stage of development in health and safety.

However, he said that Nigeria was not getting it right because in the early stage of health and safety development in the developed world, legislation was a major driving force.

Describing safety and health legislation as currently weak in Nigeria, Bakare said, “In the early stage of development of health and safety, legislation is key, and that is where we are right now in Nigeria.”

He added that Nigeria would have arrived at the desired place in health and safety when entities voluntarily do the right thing.

The notable HSE trainer noted, “Legislation is needed to actually get people to do the right thing but after legislation, you will get to a point when it is no longer enforcement that matters but getting people to a position where they willingly, voluntarily do the right thing.

“Working safely then becomes a default code; working safely becomes what you naturally do, not because someone is going to punish you or because you are going to pay sanctions.

“That is where we are in the developed economies now.”