Lagos govt seals Chinese company over electrocution of teenage worker

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu

The Lagos State Safety Commission on Wednesday sealed off Chengfa Footwear Limited, a Chinese-owned firm at Ikeja, over safety hazards and unpalatable working environment.

The move came following the death of a 16-year-old employee, identified as Joseph Ekwenube, who was electrocuted while operating a machine.

Mr Ekwenube was rushed to the Lagos State General Hospital on May 31 where he was confirmed dead.

Chengfa footwear is a company that specialises in the recycling and production of rubber footwear, and production of raw materials for rubber footwear.

Hakeem Dickson, the General Manager of the Lagos State Safety Commission, said the company was sealed after an inspection done by safety practitioners.

“The law says once you engage over five staff, you must implement safety measures,” Mr Dickson said.

“If not for the accident, the Lagos State Safety Commission would not have known that there is a company like Chengfa.”

“I see very poor housekeeping, the hazards are so much, and the risks are high. The company must be ISO certified, 9001 ISO, 45001 and 14001 ISO before the company can be reopened.”

Members of the inspection team while giving their report said the victim was electrocuted while loading into a machine meant to convey materials to where they would be processed.

Dangerous workplace

A member of the team, who was identified as ‘Engineer Ogundimu’, said upon the inspection of the site after the incident, they noticed a lot of safety infractions.

“We saw electrical infractions; people were working in an unsafe manner, the whole factory was stuffy, people had to remove their clothes to work. Based on what we saw on that day, it is not a workplace; it is simply hazardous,” she said.

Poor wiring of cables, unskilled labour, poor health safety, rodents at the workplace area, leaking roofs, overcrowding, and lack of emergency access routes were some of the issues raised.

Tomilade Shodimu, the company’s general counsel, said the deceased employee told the organisation he was 20 years old when he was being employed, but after his death, it was confirmed that he was 16 years old.

Ms Shodimu said after the incident, ”corrections had been made to ensure that staff work in a safe environment”.

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The company’s claims on new workplace safety measures notwithstanding, Mr Dickson said it would remain shut until all safety measures are put in place.”

The safety commission boss said other companies yet to be certified should acquire the 45001 ISO certification.

“It is a worldwide standard, and this would help prevent many hazards in companies, especially factories,” he added.

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