The Director-General of the Lagos State Safety Commission, Hakeem Dickson, lamented alleged recurring accidents on the premises, adding that the firm’s Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) management was suspect.
He said a team of investigators would visit the company for three days, adding that a report would be issued before weekend.
PUNCH Metro had reported that Abiodun, who had been with the company since 2014, was working in the cook department (melting section) when there was an eruption on October 1, 2017.
Molten metal was said to have splashed on his body, burning off his protective equipment.
He sustained burns in the face, chest, hands and legs as he was rushed to the Military Hospital, Yaba, from where he was referred to another private hospital where he spent 14 days before being discharged.
PUNCH correspondent had reported that when the Ondo State indigene was not getting enough attention, he asked for compensation and was initially offered N435,000.
However, one of the Chinese managers, identified only as Handerson, denied making the offer and insisted on paying him N100,000.
The Director General of LSSC, Dickson, during a meeting at the company’s office in the Amuwo Odofin area on Monday, said the agency was saddened by the incident.
He explained that records depicted the company as a serial offender.
During a chat with the management workers, Dickson expressed surprise that the officials could not produce the company’s safety manuals and insurance schemes.
He said, “Any fatality or injury that occurred in a workplace ought to be reported to us first. We are not happy you didn’t report it. We read it in the newspaper.
“Your records are also not good. In 2013 something like this happened, somebody died in 2015, and now 2017. You were fully audited in 2015 when the incident happened. Are you compliant with safety rules and regulations?
“Do you have safety and risk assessment plans? The harmonised inspection team visited you last year; do you have a copy of the violations they found? In this hall, I can’t find any safety policy signed by your management. That means you have no safety plan.
“Do you have a comprehensive insurance for all your workers? And if you have, can we see the documents? A proof that you don’t have is that you offered the victim N100,000.
“I will appreciate if you can convince me, because I believe this is not just a case of negligence, but gross negligence. The HSE and the management are not doing their jobs. We also have serious environmental issues here.”
Dickson later told journalists that investigation would begin on Tuesday (today), adding that some government workers would visit the company to take notes on infractions.
He said by weekend, a report would be prepared with recommendations.
The safety boss, who said the state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, was aware of the visit, noted that the outcome of the investigation would be sent to a court.
“However, we will not lock or seal the company for now until the end of the investigation. The governor is not happy. When he called me about the story in The PUNCH, I told him that I just read it as well and he asked me to investigate it and get the report ready by this weekend,” he added.
He said the costs of the investigations would be borne by the firm.
In its response, the management said all company workers were registered under the National Health Insurance Scheme, adding that it also operated a comprehensive insurance.
It said there were safety plans, procedures and manuals, including adequate training and risk assessments in the firm.
The Head of HSE, Kanis Chukwudi, expressed regret at the accident, adding that the company empathised with Abiodun.
He stressed that despite the provisions of personal protective equipment, workers sometimes disregarded them which had been responsible for the past incidents in the company.
“This is a metal recycling plant; we deal with scrap metal. On that day, he (Abiodun) was using a long iron rod to suppress scrap into the furnace when there was an eruption. He had his personal protective equipment complete. But when you are exposed to molten metal of that temperature, the PPE can only reduce the effect and that was why he got the burns.
“After his discharge (from Military Hospital, Yaba), on our way to taking him to the house, he said he didn’t have anywhere to go. We were surprised, only for us to discover that he was squatting with a friend who rejected him probably due to his injuries.
“Having discovered that, we had to take him to a private hospital pending when he would sort out his accommodation issues,” he added.
He said the company was ready to negotiate with the victim to ensure that he recovered and was fully settled.
Chukwudi explained that another meeting had been scheduled with Abiodun at the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Lagos Island, adding that the company would bear the cost of transportation of the victim and his representatives.
Present at the meeting with the Lagos officials were Abiodun, a community leader, Chris Ahamba; and his lawyer, Nuel Ajayi.