Safety At Elevated Positions: Firm Moves To Train Nigerian Stakeholders
PIQUED by the soaring rate of fatality experienced by height professionals while working at elevated height in Nigeria,
M-P Infrastructure in partnership with Height Safety South Africa has set up a new training facility in Lagos with a view to reverse the trend.
The new training facility set up will serve as a regional centre of excellence for the training of Nigerians and other West African countries on best practices on working safely and confidently at height structures.
The facility is expected to offer international standards training in Fall Arrest Levels 1-3, Rope Access, scaffolding erection training and offers best in breed height safety equipment and solutions.
Consequently, the nation’s telecoms, oil and gas, power, construction, maritime and the emergency and rescue sectors will benefit from the
skills acquired from this training.
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony of the facility in Lagos recently, the Group Business development director, M-P Infrastructure and Director of Height Safety West Africa, Mr. Chimmy Ogbuebile, said the training idea came to fore when his organisation noticed that a lot of companies were having high rates of fatality whilst personnel were working at elevated height due to lack of fall arrest training and use of safety equipment.
“The fact that NCC then came out with a law that all telecoms towers above 45m must have fall arrest equipment to prevent walking at height fatalities and ensure safe climbing of towers as at this time, made M-P Infrastructure
to engage Height Safety South Africa and partnered with them to set up the facility to address safety at height in the country,” Ogbuebile explained.
“Whether you are a painter, welder, rigger or an engineer, if you are working at height, you need to work safely. Our aim is to train local people in the ability to work safely at height,” he said.
He stressed that the country generally should have zero tolerance on safety non -compliance, noting that safety was not negotiable and ought to be a mandatory requirement in any environment.
“We need to preserve our lives as we all know that there is just one. The challenge we are having is that there are laws, but nobody is enforcing them,” he added.
Ogbuebile, however, urged government to take safety more serious and advised all the regulatory bodies to wake up to the challenge and enforce the laws to save Nigerians who are working in high risk environments, especially on towers, offshore and high rise construction buildings.
Also speaking at the event, one of the training facilitators, Andre Van Dyk, said safety at elevated positions was an area yet to be taken serious in Africa.
He argued that the lives lost in Nigeria was quite high due to the fact that people do not apply the correct safety method or have the correct training to work safely in elevated positions.
“We want to bring the industry of safety at height to Nigeria and create awareness among stakeholders on how to minimise the loss of lives in that field,” Van Dyk added.
The business development driver, Nneoha Eziri also emphasised the importance and massive benefit derivable in keeping to safety practices, especially amongst industries that work at height. She urged them to concentrate more on equipping their staff.
Andre, who has been in the field for over 20 years, noted that the working at heights techniques used in the 1930s and 40s were still implemented in Nigeria.
According to him, this explains why the fatality rate in the industry is high because the techniques are outdated.
“Though you have to pay for something, we are here ultimately to improve the industry and that is why we are working closely with the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON). Height Safety is a sister company of M-P Infrastructure. We train MPI in safety and working at elevated positions and we are also in collaboration with them to open the training school.”
Also speaking, a leading industry player, Ernest Pringle, said it was obvious Nigerians have the desire to be trained for safety purposes, adding that there was a special need for it in the oil and gas industry.
“If you look at the oil and gas industry alone, you will see that most of the people who are working at height are foreigners. Pringle maintained that Nigerians can rise to that position too and the training facility is a major push to get Nigerians train to Level 3 Rope Access and 2. Most Nigerians are on Level 1.
“The training hub will support the Nigerian government’s local content initiative in the Oil and gas industry, by enabling Nigerians build capacity in areas such as rope access services which are mandatory for offshore,” he disclosed.
The chairman, Chartered Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON), Lagos, Timothy Iwuagwu, expressed the institute’s pleasure to have Height Safety West Africa as a professional body in the country, insisting that the training facility was going to be a reference point where everybody in the height related industry must go through.