Welfare facilities in a workplace-What the Nigeria factory law says about It.
Welfare facilities and provision in a workplace is the responsibility of the employer. First of all, The Factories Act Cap F1 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 was solely enacted for the protection of the occupational safety and health of Nigerian workers in all occupations.
This law has requirements for factory workers and other professionals endangered by occupational hazards with the needed safety and penalties when there is any breach of the act. Section 40-44 of the act gave an explicit provision of the welfare facilities in the workplace.
1. Toilet facilities.
A toilet facility is essential in the workplace. Mostly, the workers should have a place to empty their bowels whenever there is a need for such. There has to be an adequate number of toilets that will serve the workers present. Toilets for men should be separate from that of women. They should be maintained clean at all times.
The toilet facility has to be protected from the weather with proper ventilation and illumination. The floor of the toilet has to be free from water to avoid slip hazards. Disabled workers to be taken into consideration in the provisions of the toilet.
2. Washing facilities.
The presence of washing facilities is essential in the workplace. It has to be very accessible to workers. Washing facilities with a shower depending on the nature of the work where workers need to take a shower as a reason for their work. Workers most times need to take a shower if the work is dirty, strenuous, and involves potential contamination with hazardous substances. Washing facilities to have soaps, running water, a towel, and a means of drying the clothes.
Section 41(1)of Nigeria factories act- There shall be provided and maintained for the use of all persons employed adequate and suitable facilities for washing which shall be conveniently accessible and shall be kept in clean and orderly condition.
3. Drinking water.
The provision of clean drinking water is essential in the workplace .it has to be accessible to all. Portable water or nonportable one may be present. There should be a separation between the two water, and it has to be labelled.
Section 40 (1) of Nigeria factories act -an adequate supply of drinking water shall be provided and maintained at suitable points conveniently accessible to all persons employed.
Section 40(2) of Nigeria factories act -supply of drinking water which is not laid on shall be contained in suitable vessels and shall be renewed at least daily, and all practicable steps shall be taken to preserve the water and vessels from contamination; and a drinking water supply ( whether laid on or not ) shall, in such cases as an inspector may direct, be clearly indicated by a notice in English and in such Nigeria languages as the inspector may require.
Section 40(3) a supply of drinking water shall not be used for the purpose of washing up, and a supply of water for washing up shall not be used as drinking water.
Section 40(4) the location of drinking water shall be set apart from the location of water for washing up.
4. Accommodation for clothing.
There have to be lockers or storage facilities for workers to keep their clothes. This will make it secure and clean. There has to be separate storage for the clean cloth and dirty ones to avoid or to prevent cross-contamination.
Section 43 of Nigeria factories act- There shall be provided and maintained for the use of all persons employed adequate and suitable accommodation for clothing not worn during working hours.
5. There has to be a changing room.
Changing rooms cater for workers to change into special workwear. They have to undress in such a room. Adequate provision has to be made for such a room to be clean, neat, adequately lit with proper ventilation. There have to be separate facilities for men and women.
6. Resting and eating facilities.
Workers should have accessible areas where they can take a break away from work activities. They have to have sufficient sitting and away from hazardous exposures from work. However, eating facilities should be made available as well. Those places have to be hygienic. There have to be arrangements for food and drinks in those facilities. Smoking facilities have to be made available to protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke.
7. First aid facilities.
This is vital for any company. It caters to emergency treatment for an injured worker. first aid is done before mobilizing the victim to a hospital. In some cases, there has to be an ambulance present in the company depending on the size of the company’s employees. The factory act gave an exemption of the first aid box if there is an ambulance room present in the workplace.
Section 43 (1) of the Nigerian factories act- There shall be provided and maintained so as to be readily accessible a first aid box or a cupboard of the prescribed standard, and where more than one hundred and fifty persons are employed an additional box or cupboard for every additional one hundred and fifty persons.
Section 42(2) for the purposes of the subsection one of this section the number of persons employed in factory shall be taken to be the largest number of persons employed therein at any one time, and any fraction of one hundred and fifty shall be reckoned as one hundred and fifty ,so however,that where the persons employed are employed in shifts the calculation of the number employed should be according to the largest number at work at any given shift.
Section 44 -exemption if an ambulance room is provided at the factory and such arrangements are made as to ensure the immediate treatment there of all injuries occurring in the factory,the director of factories may by certificate in writing exempt the factory from the requirements of section 43 of this act to such extent and subject to such conditions as he may specify in the certificate.
Final thoughts on welfare facilities in a workplace.
Companies have to comply with these minimum requirements for welfare facilities in an organization. In some places, they are lacking. We should not forget that this is an act that comes with penalties for any its violations.
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Onyeka Emma is a QHSE Professional, a business person, and an entrepreneur. He is very passionate about health and safety, Business and Entrepreneurship.