When we talk of importance of safety and health in the sites where
construction is taking place, the need is now ripe to include the indigenous
bricklayers in sensitizing and redirecting the thoughts of the stakeholders in
the built environment, particularly the construction industry. This is one of
the sharp focuses submitted by Dr Yohana Izam, an associate professor in the
Department of Building University of Jos. A germane point brought to the fore
as front burner at the just concluded conference of the Nigerian Institute of
Building,’’ with a theme Health
and Safety in Construction Management’. Speaking at the event is Mr.
Bimbo Kolade, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural
Development in Oyo state who indeed happened to be the chairman of the
conference.


 In his address, Mr Kolade argued
that it has become apparent and imperative for a paradigm shift to quickly
inject new ideas and to reposition the health and safety practice in the
construction industry which according to him, is in line with the vision and
mission of the built environment professionals for the benefit of our nation.
Construction industry is hazardous sector. With this background, a lot of
workers, both skill and unskilled, lose their lives, and many are maimed and
injured on sites every year. According to him, it has become paramount for any
construction firm to improve their technological development, supporting it
with more sophisticated construction equipment’s, and adequate precautionary
measure in the usage. Mrs Dominga Odebumi, the Director
General   of Lagos State Safety Commission in her views,
believes the challenge of safety has something to do with the use of bamboo in
the construction process.

 Due to the use of these inferior equipment’s
and materials, she argued that a lot of causalities have occurred in the
construction process. Citing her experience, she said “there was a commencement
of a construction behind my house, in the cause of progress in construction, it
was discovered that there was non-compliance with the certification of fitness
in material testing. Regrettably also, the professionals of built environment were
equally not at the site”. A terrible scenario that culminated into what
eventually led to collapse of some parts of the building before the
construction work was put to a halt. She commended the organisers of the event,
first for bringing together local bricklayers for orientation on the need to
comply with safety and health regulations in the construction process and the
importance of partnering with the professional builders when they are engaged
with clients on construction at any level they are called.

She explained further that “I will equally say also, that we have
resolved in the Lagos state safety commission to partner with builders on a
consultant basis in the area of certification and enforcement this will help
both the professionals and the policy regulators.”  In a quick
response to that, the chairman of the conference Mr. Bimbo Kolade thanked her
for fashioning out modalities of working with the regulators whilst urging his
colleagues to take advantage of that gesture. Architect Abimbola Ajayi, the
immediate past president of the Nigerian Institute of Architecture, Lagos
chapter said we have had in the past Health Act of 1957, Work Safety Act,
Labour Act and Compensation Act.  In her narrative, she asked
rhetorically, where did we hear that these acts have ever been enforced?” I am
saying this because our people put more thoughts in creating another laws but
unfortunately they are less concerned about the enforcement aspect of the
existing once. Mrs Ajayi said we should dwell more on the strict enforcement of
the existing laws, believe that scaffolding as an alternative to bamboo would
indeed be beneficial in saving more life’s and create another avenue for job
opportunity and entrepreneur to support the builders in safety and more
healthiness instead of what is more hazardous to the bricklayers and where
unfortunately they do not know how harmful such could cost them. The occasion
was graced with a traditional ruler who happened to be the member of the
building profession

.
The doyen of the institute, elder oyefeko an octogenarian, described those at
the helms of affairs as a good hand, he said he has no regret seeing the way
the profession is heading to. Thanked the organisers for what he called
excellent thought in a good direction that deals with the safety of its
professional in addition to their resolve to bring in other local artesian to
sensitize them on the need to have a good grasp of the implications that some
of the speakers have cited on their safety and health’s
hazards.  Among those that grace the event are Tpl Catherine Kehinde
George, professor mosaku of covenant university, Engineer Tokunbo Odebumi, a
permanent secretary, Bureau of Project Monitoring and Concessionings in Ogun
State

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