The Lagos State President, All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary School (ANCOPSS), Mr. Olatunde Adetolu, has advocated for occupational safety and health training for staff of public schools in the state.
He made this known in an address at the Lagos Vision Zero Conference held at the Landmark Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos between June 26 and 28.
The ANCOPSS boss added that the education sector is too critical to the nation’s development for staff not to be empowered with adequate knowledge on health and safety.
Speaking on the theme “The Importance of Empowerment of Lagos State Public School Teachers with Occupational Safety and Health Knowledge”, Adetolu said equipping teachers with the requisite knowledge would help “promote positive social climate and smooth operation” in schools.
According to him, teachers and principals would be in a better position to act to curb health and safety hazards in schools if empowered with the right knowledge.
He identified common safety hazards in Lagos schools as kidnapping, fire, bottles flying around, weakened rails, chemical splash in laboratories, improper handling of dangerous acids and other chemicals, serpent bites, infestation of bed bugs, and collapse of septic tanks.
Adetolu further identified the health hazards as improper refuse and sewage disposal, consumption of contaminated food from vendors and roadside workers, spread of epidemic diseases from infected peers, drug abuse, hereditary illness management, fainting and exhaustion, fracture due to slippery surfaces, among others.
He recounted the May 25, 2017 kidnapping of six students of Lagos State Model College, Igbonla-Epe, saying the situation could have been better managed had teachers been equipped with the right health and safety knowledge.
He said, “There are 671 secondary and 1100 primary schools in Lagos.
“Do we then say the governor and his team should come and save us?
“No, which means we must be trained to handle our own matter.”
He called for a behaviour-based safety management approach that entails teachers, school managers and other stakeholders owning up to their responsibilities.
Highlighting the focus areas of the health and safety training needed by teachers, Adetolu said, “Some of the trainings we expect should include: the definition of occupational safety and health;
“We also expect to be taught the laws and policies guiding occupational safety and health which we don’t know but we need;
“Then we need to be guided about effective management of safety in education and learning system; and then roles and responsibilities of our employers and the various people in that system.
“We also need to know about accident. For example, we don’t have to wait until they kidnap another student before we are trained how to manage this type of situation.”
He added, “I work in a model college and we were all jittery in all the 27 other model colleges when the kidnapping in Igbonla occurred.”