How I decided on my HSE training, I would not have guessed so. As at the time I finished my Youth Service (NYSC precisely on 4th May 2017), I had written down a whole lot of things I wanted to try out, certifications to acquire and new skills to learn. And then was the issue of finance… In the field of engineering, a lot of these training are quite expensive, especially for a beginner. If one was lucky to get a job immediately, the company bears the cost of the training.
I went through my board again and searched for the ones I could still afford from my savings and I ended up with the HSE (Health Safety and Environment) training. Simply put, this training has to do with the overall concern for safety at home, workplace and the general environment. It is a starter course for virtually everyone interested in an engineering career, not like it’s not useful to others.
During service, there were a lot of smaller organizations offering the training to corps members at a discounted rate. I researched a little and found out that most of them are not recognized nationwide, their certificates were limiting. So before you decide to take up any certificate course with any organization be sure that it is worth it (acceptable nationwide or international; whether at a discount or not) so you don’t end up doing it a second time.
That was how I found out about Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON). It is the main accredited body to train safety personnel in Nigeria. That means no matter the factory/organization it is, they must be ISPON certified to practice in a safe setting. For international companies like Shell or airlines, they train their staff through ISPON then other international groups, since they operate on international standards and are exposed to high risks always. Especially with those international companies, another safety body recognized in Nigeria is NEBOSH (National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health). This is a UK-based board most Nigerians use for international opportunities. It is way more expensive and rigorous compared to ISPON.
About the training proper, we were just 8 participants (2 females, 6 males) at the Ibadan branch for the June set. This shows that there is a lot of gap in safety sector in Nigeria. The General HSE and HSE level 3 took about two weeks to complete including the exams at the end of each course. It was an eye-opener for me concerning many things I took for granted relating to safety. The facilitators were amazing in their different areas from health to general safety to our environment, a lot was shared. Oh! I almost forgot the best part; we were given light breakfast and lunch every day! Hahaha… I know, I know, I am petty like that. I was ‘wowed’ probably because I never expected it to be their usual practice. The lectures lasted from 9am-4pm every day, sometimes later than that, so it was wise of them to include meals.
The major flaw with the training is the fact that they still use the old curriculum (typical Nigerian education system), it is left for one to keep studying, researching and training to keep abreast. This training has opened my eyes to opportunities I never saw towards safety. Believe me, there is a lot to share and I will do that over time. I have decided to push towards safety as it is undervalued in Nigeria. People do not understand the importance of a fire extinguisher, safety protective wears, proper housekeeping that leads to fire, and so many other things. At times you see people blaming the results of their carelessness on witches or neighbours who do not want them to progress, not realizing they could have easily avoided what happened.
What are your thoughts on safety issues in Nigeria; the challenges, what can be done, how to get people to know better. Share with us in the comments!