PRACTISING SAFETY ENGINEERING IN NIGERIAA Keynote Address Presented by H.R. H. .Engr. Otis Anyaeji, FAEng,FNSE, FNISafetyE President, West African Federation of Engineering Organisation

Table of Contents

  • 1.0 INTRODUCTION.. 3


All through human history, the desire to maintain the well being of self, family, friends has been evident.

At the onset of industrialization common law (i.e. law that originated from custom and precedence instead of from legislative enactments) refers to three parties viz master (or the employer), servant, (the employee), and the stranger, (a visitor or anyone else on the premises whether invited or not), in the matter of safety and health in the workplace. Thenthe position of the common law was that the servant ought to be smart enough to avoid danger. In those days, a visitor or stranger was accorded greater care than a servant, since it was presumed that a stranger on the premises was not aware of the hazards within the plant, but that the servant (or employee) was in the plant by his choice and had taken the risk to be at work there.

Nowadays, the laws on labour, safety and health show more concern for the welfare of the worker and his or her family. This is to the extent that on matters relating to compensation for injuries suffered in an accident, a court is more likely to favour the worker or injured party rather than the employer. In building codes responsibility over the condition of the building or property is placed on the owner. Ofcourse, the occupant or lessee has some control over the condition of the property they occupy or use.

In the modern workplace, the responsibility for the observance of the law and standards of occupational safety and health rests with the employee.

On the question of standards, there are performance, and specification standards. Performance standards are concerned with the way a task or job is done.

Specification standards are concerned with physical conditions.

The worker is responsible for the satisfaction or violation of a standard. Control of the worker’s performance is the responsibility of managementthrough provision of proper training and supervision.


  • ‘Safety’- a judgement of the acceptability of risk’
  • ‘Risk’ – a measure of the probability and severity of harm to human health, and property”
  • ‘Standard’ – a statement of a condition or level of performance that is acceptable to all concerned and that is then used to evaluate conditions and performance.
  • ‘Risk’ – The probability of an adverse effect to human health, property, and the environment, and the severity thereof.
  • ‘Accident’ – an unplanned and undesirable event that intercepts a planned activity and that may or may not result in injury or property damage.
  • ‘Safety Engineering’ – the application of basic scientific and technical principles to the mitigation of or restriction of loss of life, property, and the environment by recognized standards. It requires a broad knowledge of mathematics, chemistry, physics and other basic sciences and a familiarity with one or more of the recognized branches of engineering.
  • ‘Safety engineer’ – is usually qualified by obtaining at least a four-year engineering or technical degree in a basic engineering discipline, as well as engineering certification or professional registration in safety engineering.
  • ‘Injury’ – a bodily impairment resulting from an accident, the former is immediate, and occurs at a fixed time and place.
  • “Illness” – a bodily impairment resulting from exposure to a harmful substance or environment. The impairment does not occur immediately and is not evident until sometime after the exposure.

In summary, if accidents and hazardous exposures can be eliminated, injuries and illnesses can be eliminated. The reverse is not necessarily so. This leads to the grund norm of safety practice i.e.“The ultimate goal of all efforts in safety engineering should be to reduce accidents and harmful exposures.”


Normally a large part of society’s daily routine is based on different types of standards.

As explained earlier, a standard is an accepted or agreed upon rule for the measurement of a quantity or quality. There are standards of mass, weight, distance, value, time etc. There are also standards of performance.Groups have over time developed standards for the protection of safety and health of themselves and others.

In Europe as in the United States, the first work related laws were concerned with compensation rather than accident prevention. However, two tragic boiler explosions in Hartford (1854) and on a Mississippi River Steamboat (1865) resulted to the formation of an association of persons determined to eliminate this hazard. It was from this effort that the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Insurance Company emerged, and its success prompted manufacturers of steam boilers to get involved in establishing a uniform set of construction rules. Ultimately this initiative led to the development of the “Rules for the Construction of Stationary Boilers and for Allowable working Pressures,” which were adopted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in 1915. A revised version of these boiler codes is still in use today.

We note that the development of these codes typified the development of safety and health standards. The first step is usually a recognition of the need for guidelines for the design and operation of machinery or equipment. From experience, this first step is often taken only after many people have been injured or killed in serious accidents. Guidelines could originate with individuals or small group of people whose ideas are then adopted by a trade group e.g. American Welding Society, American Boiler Manufacturers’ Association. Professional organizations have also developed some standards. ASME, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), AEEE, have long lists of standards used by manufacturers of mechanical, agricultural, and electrical equipment.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has developed its own standards normally related to protection from fire, explosion, and associated hazards. The well known US“National Electrical Code (NEC)”, and the Life Safety Code (LSC) are two of the over 275 NFPA standards.

The NI Safety E, ought to draw inspiration from the activities of these other professional associations and work on the development of safety related codes and standards.

In Nigeria, legislations that have been enacted relating to Safety Engineering include the Factories act CAP F1, Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency Act No. 6 of 2015, the National Biosafety Agency Cap, etc.

Copies of the Acts should be on the desk of every Safety Engineer.

On Products Certification, as a people become more safety conscious, they also become more concerned about the products they use or consume. The Consumer Protection Council Act came out from greater interest of the populace in product control.

Problems of liability have prompted manufacturers to try to protect themselves, as well as their customers by having their products tested and certified by some recognized agent. Several testing laboratories exist including those operated by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, and the significance of their stamp of approval is on the rise.

Industrial as well as consumer products and components often carry the label of either Underwriters Laboratories Inc, or Factory Mutual Systems in the US, or NIS in Nigeria. The familiar NIS, or UL and FM labels signify that the product has been tested and found to satisfy all the appropriate existing standards. The Nigerian Society of Engineers has been trying to set up a product certification system since 2016. The Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers should be avantgarde in this effort of the NSE.


Sustainable development is one that meets the present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Rosenbaum (1993) explains that sustainable means using methods, systems, and materials that will not deplete resources or harm natural cycles. Viera (1993) states that sustainability identifies a concept and attitude in development that looks at a site’s natural land, water and energy resources as integral aspects of the development. From the 1987 BrundtLand Commission of the United Nations emerged. The concept of sustainability based on the concept of the triple bottom line. The latter implies balancing environmental concerns and social needs with economic issues. Graphically, this is shown as the confluence of the three pillars (3Ps): Social (People), Economic (Profits), and Environmental (Planet).

The safety, health, and environmental (SHEE) community is better off concerning itself with the practical aspects of 3Ps which SH&E professionals can impact or influence.

SHE professional can benefit from a general understanding of social responsibility by obtaining a copy of the document ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsibility.


In defining safety engineering earlier, we had talked of familiarity with one or more of the recognized branches of engineering. What this really means is that each branch of engineering has its own safety specialization. Thus we have Systems and Process Safety, Electrical Safety, Pressure Vessel Safety, Lifting Devices Safety, Fire Prevention and Protection, Construction Safety, Aviation Safety, Maritime Safety, Highway Safety, Railway Safety, Industrial Hygiene, Ergonomic and human factors Engineering etc. Just like a mechanical engineer cannot be specialized in all aspects and ramifications of mechanical engineering, it can be seen that a safety engineer cannot be specialized in all aspects and ramifications of safety engineering.


Safety engineering management (SEM) is a combination of risk identification, risk mitigation, and balancing among levels of acceptable risk, cost and availability of technology. It includes system safety, occupational safety in the work place, and behavioral safety. SEM requires implementation of regulatory requirements, consensus, standards and risk management practices in the policies and procedures of SEM. Here, the mandatory part is the regulatory requirement, while company policies and discretion determine the level and extent of consensus standards or best management practices.

Efficient implementation of safety, reliability, quality, and cost effectiveness is the goal of safety engineering management.

The safety engineer should be familiar with the following requirements that may apply to safety engineering and management:

Executive Orders
Code of Federal Regulations
Federal Agency Orders and Standards
State and Local Regulations
Consensus Standards
International Organization for Standardization
Best Management Practices

Safety engineers in the civil and public services may do well to bring about the effect of Executive Orders, CFRs, Federal Agency Orders and Standards, State and Local Regulations on the promotion and advancement of safety engineering and management in Nigeria.


Systems safety provides a systematic approach to safety beginning in the conceptual stages of a project, and continuing through operation and disposal.

Systems safety comprises-

Managing the safety programme- planning and execution
Analyzing the system for safety problems at all design stages
Identifying design requirements to make the system safe
Recording results

A systematic approach makes safety more of a science than an art, catching safety problems during the design phase where they can be corrected more economically. Thus, there is need for advanced planning for safety from the earliest conceptual stages, and then continuous safety awareness and analysis throughout design, construction and operation.

The basic purpose of system (or process) safety is to identify the risk of a system in the form of:

Outcomes of potential mishaps (Hazard Effects)
The potential mishaps occurrence
The severity and probability of potential mishaps (risk assessment) and how to reduce the likelihood of the potential mishaps occurring (hazard control).

For simple devices it would be easy tolook at the device as a whole, and identify the applicable hazards.

In the case of complex systems e,g, satellites, space vehicles, chemical plants, aeroplanes, etc. there will be the need to break the system down to sub-systems, and the sub-systems to components. Thereafter the sub-systems and the components are examined individually for hazards. Next, the interfaces of these parts are analyzed for hazards.

Hazard categories include:

Collision, Contamination, Corrosion, Electrical, Explosion, Fire, Physiological, Human factors, Loss of capability, Radiation, Temperature extremes, Mechanical Pressure

The tools and techniques of system safety analysis include:

Fault tree analysis
Event tree analysis
Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
Soft tree analysis
Hazards and operability (Hazop) studies
Time dependent petrinet analysis
Functional flow analysis
Information-flow analysis
Software sneak analysis
Nuclear Safety Cross-Check Analysis (NSCCA)
Real-time logic
Software code analysis

Hazards associated with electricity are: Shock, Arc flash, Arc blast

Flash Hazard analysis: ought to be done before a person approaches any exposed electrical conductor circuit part that has not been placed in an electrically safe work condition. The incident energy exposure determined by the flash hazard analysis should be used to select protective clothing and personal protective equipment for job specific tasks.

Hazard/Risk Analysis is a process that:

Evaluates circuit information drawings-electrical distribution one-line and other appropriate drawing
Determines the degree and extent of hazards
Provides job planning as necessary to safely perform tasks
Determines approach – boundary requirements
Evaluates personnel qualifications
Determines appropriate personal protective equipment based on the potential hazards present.

To engineer additional safety into electrical systems to protect personnel from arc flash and arc blast, some options to adopt are,

Replacing existing switchgear with arc-resistant switchgear;
Installing a secondary main relay that can trip a primary circuit breaker;
Installing zone interlocking in switchgear (i.e. a signal from a downstream circuit breaker blocks an upstream circuit breaker from tripping);
Changing overcurrent device type to current limiting device;
Installing differential relays etc.

The responsibilities of an Employer’s Electrical Safety authority include:

  • Assuming responsibility of the electrical safety programme
  • Developing and revising company electrical safety standards
  • Providing interpretations of nationally recognized codes and standards
  • Providing guidance for facility management
  • Resolve Federal/State/Local regulatory issues
  • Establishes and documents effective safe work practices
  • Providing technical input for Factories Inspectorate interpretations
  • Providing guidance for electrical training programmes
  • Providing consultation services to management
  • Reviewing electrical safety incidents and participate in investigations
  • Issuing summaries and lessons-learned about electrical safety incidents
  • Evaluating non-listed electrical equipment
  • Developing a programme for documentation of standards practices, procedures and
  • guidelines; accurate drawings; equipment manuals, inspection records and histories;
  • findings from audits; and completed training records.

The methods to adopt to achieve electrically safe working conditions include:

Designing electrical systems with safety in mind
Ensuring that all electrical installations are code-compliant
Inspection of new facilities, existing facilities, and renovated or modified facilities
Providing for predictive and preventive maintenance
Ensuring management and employee familiarity with recognized standards
Performing safety audits of workplace conditions
Providing appropriate training of personnel
Providing a technical authority with the knowledge and experience to respond to questions about design, installation and maintenance
Providing the organizational structure to accomplish electrically safe work conditions


Operating a power plant successfully would require team work involving owners operating personnel and those of various servicing companies and service providers. All these have to pull together to manage the key success factors of safety, cash flow, work orders, quick turnaround maintenances, etc.

Most investors or at least, key advisors of investors are mostly financial experts who take it upon themselves to do due diligence and ensure that the power generating company and its service providers have the processes in place to manage the business aspects of operations, safety, costs and schedules. To engineer and manage safety processes in the power plant involves economic impacts that sometimes could amount to loss of revenues. This become apparent when there are shutdowns and the entire plant gets offgrid which amounts to huge loss of revenue and investments. On a smaller scale, the financial costs could also manifest in many other ways like loss of productive man-hours, loss of wages by the affected employee which creates further socio-economic problems, death-related payments by the employer in cases of fatalities, damage to tools, equipment and installations, etc. If we aggregate and sum the monetized safety-related costs such as medical cost of injuries, cost of damage to equipment and installations, penalties from regulatory bodies and others, these could average about 2% of annual revenues by conservative estimates. If less than 1% is devoted to safety and spent on incidence control measures to forestall accidents, the remaining 1% could be saved and used wisely as insurance premiums and health incentives for the employee which could in turn, become a huge morale booster in terms of productivity.



The safety engineer needs to be familiar with the idea of designing for safety, i.e. the thought process involved in identifying hazards and using the design-for-safety hierarchy. The latter going through top priority to lowest priority assists management to eliminate the hazard or reduce the risk to an acceptable level by engineering design, providing a safety device, or providing warnings, instructions and special operating procedures.

He/she ought to know the basic areas of safety engineering like industrial/commercial ventilation, walking-working surfaces, lockout/tagout, noise control, machine safeguarding, power tools, material handling etc.

It is necessary that the hazards involved in each of these basic areas and the role that designing for safety plays in each area are recognized.

The process for designing for safety, is that after a preliminary design concept has been proposed, the first step is to identify the hazards. The safety engineer with his team should collect all available background information and review/analyze them. Expected background information include the foreseeable use and misuse, the environment, and the capabilities and behaviours of the user. The uses and misuses can be assessed through the injury history. The latter can be obtained from injury records within the particular plant or related industries. The injury history can also be obtained from the Factories Inspectorate.

To obtain information on human capability and behavior, the safety engineer has to rely on international references like Woodson, et al. (1992), Human Factors Design Handbook 2nd Ed. New York: Mcgraw-Hill, Inc, Hammer, (1972). Handbook of System and Product Safety. Englewood Cliffs, Ng: Prentice Hall, the American National Safety Council (1988), etc.


The Factories Act Cap F1, under the Safety (general provisions) provides for the safety considerations for Steam Boilers (Sec. 31), Steam Receivers and Steam Containers (Sec. 32) and Air Receivers, (Sec. 33). Sec. 31(17) defines “Authorized Boiler Inspector” as any person (whether or not an officer in the civil service of the Federation

Or any State) who is authorized by the Director of Factories, by certificate in writing, to carry out examinations of steam boilers in accordance with, and for the purpose of this section and to issue certificate referred to in sub-section(13) of this section.

Sec. 32(10) again defines “Authorised boiler inspector as any person (whether an officer in the Civil Service of the Federation or of any State) who is authorized by the Director of Factories by certificate in writing to carry out examinations of steam receivers in accordance with and for the purpose of this section and issue the certificate referred to in subsection (8) (a) of this section.

Sec. 33(6) defines “approved person” as any person (whether or not an officer in the Civil Service of the Federation or of any State) who is approved by the Director of Factories by certificate in writing for the purpose of carrying out examinations and tests of air receivers in accordance with, and for the purpose of this section.

Clearly, the “authorized boiler inspector” of Sec. 31(7) 8, Sec. 32(10), and the approved person of Sec. 33(6) are safety engineers. We can confidently say so since to perform these functions, one would have to be knowledgeable about the fundamentals of the various types of fired and unfired pressure vessels that are commonly used in industries.

Such authorized inspector or approved person ought to be able to recognize the potential hazards and the causes and severity of accidents involving pressure vessels, and know the government safety regulations to prevent such accidents. They also would have to be familiar with the process of design, fabrication, inspection, code stamping, and certification of new pressure vessels in accordance with ASME Code. In carrying out these functions the ability to compare the pressure vessel construction codes of ASME, American Petroleum Institute, and the Tubular Exchanger Manufacturers Association, etc will be required.

The inspectors would need to be able to determine the corrosion rate, remaining service life, and maximum allowable working pressure of existing pressure vessels. They also would need to know the importance of establishing a pressure vessel hazard – control programme and have familiarity with elements of such a programme.


Sec. 24(2) of the Factories Act prescribes that every hoist or lift shall be thoroughly examined at least once in every period of six months by a person approved for the purpose of this section by the Director of Factories by a certificate in writing.

Sec. 25(1) (d) stipulates that all chains, ropes and lifting tackle in use shall be thoroughly examined at least once in every period of six months, or at such greater intervals as the Director of Factories may permit in any particular case, by a person approved for the purposes of this section by the Director of Factories by certificate in writing. Sec. 25(1) (e) also stipulates that no chain, rope or lifting tackle shall be taken into use in any factory unless it has been tested and thoroughly examined by a person approved by the Director of Factories for the purpose of this section.

The approved persons of Sec. 24(2) are expected to certify the hoist or lift to be of good mechanical construction, sound material, adequate strength, and well maintained.

In the cases of Sec. 25(1) (d) & (e) the approved inspectors are to certify that the chain, rope or lifting tackle are of good construction, sound material, adequate strength, and free from patent defect.

The same is the case with Sec. 26(2) & (3) with respect to inspecting and certifying that all parts and working gear whether fixed or movable, including the anchorage and fixing appliances of every crane or lifting machine shall be of good construction, sound material, adequate strength, free from patent defect and shall be properly maintained.

These approved persons are certainly Safety Engineers.


In fire prevention and protection, the safety Engineer has to have knowledge of the phenomena that encompass fire dynamics from fuel release, dispersion, and ignition through fire spread, growth, and possible flashover – culminating in the devastation produced and subsequent investigation.

He or she ought to have an appreciation of safety and loss-prevention issues that are involved in the occurrence of fires and of factors that can mitigate the extent of subsequent damage.

The safety Engineer should have ability to calculate useful information from empirical equations that describe observed phenomena, permitting deductions for other situations that are interpolated or extrapolated from a limited amount of experimental data. Skills are needed to use mathematical modelling concepts related to computer-based calculation procedures known as the zone method and the Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) method for simulating fire growth, smoke production, and travel from fires.

The Factories Act has provisions for measures for “Prevention of fire” Sec.35, and also for Safety in Case of Fire Sec.36.