The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) has appealed to State Governments, private sector employers and international companies operating in Nigeria to enroll in the Fund’s special Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) scheme.
The NSITF operates the Employees’ Compensation Scheme (ECS) through which it implements the OSH, and has paid over N4billion compensation in recent years.
The Acting Managing Director/Chief Executive of NSITF, Dr. Kelly Nwagha, made the appeal in Abuja during a press conference he hosted to mark this year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Workplace tagged: “Anticipate, Prepare and Respond To Crisis – Invest Now In Resilient Occupational Safety and Health Systems”.
The NSITF used the opportunity to join the international community, especially the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in calling on governments and other employers of labour “to seek to ensure basic income security, in particular for persons whose jobs or livelihoods have been disrupted by crisis”.
Dr. Nwagha noted that the COVID-19 pandemic “touched nearly every aspect of the world of work: from the risk of transmission of the virus in workplaces, to occupational safety and health (OSH) risks that have emerged as a result of the spread of the virus.”
He quoted ILO on the need for governments and employers to: “develop, restore or enhance comprehensive social security schemes and other social protection mechanisms, taking into account national legislation and international agreements”.
The NSITF boss further pointed out that “the benefit of having a resilient OSH system will lead to having less accident/injuries; improving the morale and security of staff; increasing the productivity of an organization; improving staff welfare which will in turn bring about a better quality of life of both employees and the employer; and . reduction in the costs of rehabilitation”.
Elucidating on how possible health challenges like Covid-19 can be ameliorated in future, Nwagha explained that “recovery will only be sustained and future crises mitigated if the government is able to progressively build on or transform such temporary relief measures into comprehensive and shock-responsive social protection systems.”
These would include social protection floors, in line with human rights and ILO social security standards, as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; while “increasing and sustaining fiscal space for social protection, as well as political will”, he stated.
Dr. Nwagha added that: “NSITF, being an institution mandated to implement the Employee’s Compensation Act (ECA) 2010 has the responsibility to combine efforts and resources of relevant stakeholders for the prevention of workplace disabilities, including the enforcement of OSH standards in all work places with the aim of preventing work-related accidents and diseases.
“But where accidents and diseases occur, NSITF rehabilitates the affected employee. If by chance the affected employee becomes disabled or the disease or accident leads to death, the NSITF pays adequate compensation according to the provisions of the ECA, 2010.”