599 Perceptions of occupational health and safety in small and medium scale enterprises in lagos state, and the nigerian ohs laws

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IntroductionThe paper examines the perceptions of workers in SMSEs in Lagos, Nigeria to OHS and the Nigerian OHS laws. Issues of responsibility of stakeholders, training needs, role of trade associations, collaborating efforts on OHS, level of accessibility, conformity and adherence to the Nigerian OHS laws were examined.MethodsThe study adopts both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection from three purposively selected sawmills, mechanic villages and blacksmith cottages in three Local Government Areas of Lagos State, Nigeria, between December 2014 and June 2015. The quantitative data analyses use simple percentile, while the qualitative was content-analysed, based on the objectives of the study.ResultsOHS is not a way of exploiting workers (62.7%); government functionaries were never around on OHS issues (83.9%); lack of awareness of OHS (81.8%); trade associations do not emphasise on OHS (63.3%), and no sanctions on non-compliance on OHS issues (77.2%). Furthermore, OHS is seen as a personal issue (77.7%), and for all stakeholders (93.9%) and that workers need training on OHS (97.2%). In addition, installation and maintenance of equipments in SMSEs are not guided by OHS laws (96.7%), ministry official never visited workplaces (87.8%), as well as Factories inspectors (93.4%), no copies of OHS laws (97.7%), workers not guided by OHS laws (95%), no conformity with OHS laws (93.9%), and OHS issues not taken seriously (69.5%).ConclusionThe study suggests that though personal precaution is paramount for workers, collective responsibility of all stakeholders on OHS in SMSEs is imperative. Trade association in the SMSEs should also collaborate with various government agencies that have oversight functions on OHS to educate workers, and workers who flout OHS laws should be sanctioned within the confine of the laid down rules and regulations in the workplace. These will definitely improve workers’ perception of OHS in the selected SMSEs.

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