The bill seeks to protect employees from hazards associated in their organisation

The Senate has passed the Labour Safety, Health Welfare Bill.

The passage of the bill, titled Occupational Safety and Health Bill 2012, was a follow up to the report of the Joint Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity, Health and Establishment and Public Service presented by the Chairman, Senator Wilson Ake, PDP, Rivers West, and 24 others.

The bill sponsored by Senator Chris Anyanwu, APGA, Imo East was read for the third time and passed at the Senate on Thursday.

According to Senate President, David Mark, the bill had already been passed in the House of Representatives.

The bill seeks to protect workers from hazards associated with their jobs and repeals and re-enacts the Factory Act, 2004 to make comprehensive provisions for securing the safety, health and welfare of persons at work.

It also seeks to protect others against risks to safety and health with regard to activities of persons at work in addition to establishing the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.

The amended bill contains 111 clauses and clause 83 deals with offences and penalties.

“Any employer who fails to comply with any of the provisions of clauses 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36 and 37 of this bill relating to the duty of the employer commits an offence. The person shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than one year or to a fine of not less than N500,000.

“Both fine and imprisonment in case of an individual and a fine of not less than N2 million for a corporate body and in addition each director or manager of the body shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not less than one year. Clause 31(1) of the Bill also states that an employer shall after being notified by a female employee that she is pregnant, adapt the working conditions of the female employee in such manner as to prevent occupational exposure.

“This is to ensure that the embryo is afforded the same level of protection as required for members of the public and the employer shall not consider the notification of pregnancy as a reason to exclude the employee from work. The employer is also required by this law to ensure that any female employee that is pregnant or nursing a baby is not exposed to ionising radiation at the work place.

On the construction and disposal of machinery, the bill in clause 52 stipulates that any person who manufactures, assemblies, sells or lets on hire any machine that does not comply with the requirement of this clause commits an offence. The person shall be liable to a penalty of N50,000 for the first case of non compliance and N100,000 for every subsequent case of non compliance or N50 million for the first case of non compliance and N500 million? for every subsequent case.

Mark in his remark stated that a conference committee would soon be inaugurated to harmonise the bill, after which it would be forwarded to President Goodluck Jonathan for approval.

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