An Interview with Mr Wayne M. Sundborg on the Growth of Safety in West Africa. He is the HSE Manager Cobel Contracting, a multi- national company in construction industry. Due to his passion in safety, he is the Managing Editor of Safety View Magazine and Vice Chairman, Occupational Safety & Health Association, promoting safety awareness in the general industry.

Can we know you?

Absolutely, my name is Wayne Michael Sundborg. I am the Occupational Environmental Health and Safety Manager for Cobel Contracting and also CEO of  WMS Associates and Vice president of OSHAssociation.

How do you see safety coming up in Africa, using Nigerian region as a case study.

As regards safety in Nigeria, until the government get together and put in place all the Acts in the legislature and regulations to improve the current practice, nothing much can be achieve on at the moment.
For example in Lagos state, Lagos State Safety Commission has very good intensions and they know where they want to be, however, haven’t said that, until they get the actual legislation and regulations in place, they cannot progress from where they are.

Coming from your own country, which is Britain and looking at safety in the global communities, how can you compare Nigeria?

Everyone knows that the legislature in the United Kingdom which the whole Europe knows that its legislature is the best in the world, when it comes to occupational health and safety. There are more and more countries adopting UK’s legislation, hopefully, the way forward with Nigeria is to do exactly the same.

How do you see the international organizations helping Nigeria to actualize this goal? Is there any synergy or global body assisting Nigeria to actualize safety awareness and best practices?

The OSHAssociation is a gateway for all the safety professionals globally. We know that they are quite more prominence particularly in Nigeria, they are there to assist.
I have also being approach, by the Lagos State Safety Commission, who are certainly improving to setting standards, one of the goals that they want is to have a considerate contractors group which means all the major players in the construction industries get together, there is a benchmark set and a standard is set and all the contractors work to that standards from the highest to the man working at the group level to have a basic safety awareness.

Is there any international expertise or international stakeholders involve in bringing all they executives together concerning discussing the way forward on safety in the industry?

At the moment, it is just local stakeholders who will fall back on the local government, As far as expatriates are concerned, the only one I am aware of like myself at the moment, obviously I am in touch with the M.D’s or the like of construction companies, trying to form a group. Again, haven’t said that, until there is regulation and legislation in the pincode of practice in place, you cannot move on.
To the point of issue of safety in the industry, you as an expert in construction industry and we all know that oil and gas have taken the lead in safety.

In construction, is there actually a proactive system set aside to make sure that they take the kind of steps that oil and gas sector has taken in terms of safety?

No, but note that you cannot work in any industry without safety. Whether in oil and gas, or construction or manufacturing, you get to have some level of safety there, however, in the construction industry in West Africa, they are lacking behind and they need to be pushed forward.
At the moment in the construction industry, there is no price on a person’s life, particularly underground workers they get paid very little money and expecting them to do jobs that they have never done before in their lives. These days, the larger company gets a PPE but you get to the smaller medium sized companies, they are still not understanding what safety is all about, you have to start from the top then hit the larger companies, get them to comply with safety and then you move to the medium sized and the smaller companies and start working on those safety rules and regulations.

You have made some good points here today; thank you so much for your time and contributing your quota to development of safety in West Africa.

Thank you too, you are always welcome.