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Matthew Eworo gets hand surgery — after TheCable’s Lagos slave factories report

Matthew Eworo gets hand surgery — after TheCable’s Lagos slave factories report
January 23
12:06 2024

Matthew Eworo, a former casual worker at Monaplex Plastic Industries, has finally undergone hand surgery.

A two-part investigative report by TheCable exposed the poor working conditions of factory workers in Lagos state and how these companies failed to provide protective and safety measures for their workers.

The first part detailed the condition of Eworo, the 29-year-old worker whose hand was stuck in the base of an active mixer while on a night shift at the Monaplex plastic factory on August 31, 2023.

Unconscious after he lost a lot of blood, he was rushed to a hospital, where he was resuscitated. On September 4, a doctor recommended that a surgical emergency be carried out on the wounded hand.

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He was subsequently referred to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) for the surgical emergency.

Weeks went by, and then it became months. The factory moved at a snail’s pace on issues concerning Matthew’s surgery, even as he languished with a swollen and stinking right hand.

“The doctor said the time has been wasted and the surgery should have been done immediately after the incident happened, but now that the hand is swollen,. I would have to wait till it reduces before it can be further examined,” Matthew told TheCable on his second appointment with the doctor on October 5.

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Shortly after the investigative report was released, the once-reluctant Monaplex management quickly moved Matthew from the Lagos state hospital to Summit Orthopaedic Hospital in the Egbeda area of the state for surgery.

Matthew went under the knife on December 31 and was discharged with his right hand immobilised in a bandage on January 2.

“Monaplex took care of everything. I mean the payment for the surgery and the drugs, including my transport to and fro the hospital and my welfare when I was there. Everything is going well for now,” Matthew told TheCable after the operation.

“After the story broke, they asked me what I wanted and I told them I wanted to leave for my home town. But when the Lagos government intervened, I was advised to wait for the surgery to be done in the state. The factory got serious more than before; it was almost surprising.”

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When asked about his plans after the surgery, Eworo said, in line with the Employee Compensation Act (ECA) 2010, he expects “Monaplex to give me enough funds to aid me through this healing process till I am fit to take another job.”

Eworo poses for a photograph after the surgery

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MONAPLEX ADOPTS NEW SAFETY MEASURE TO PROTECT WORKERS

A new safety policy drafted by Monaplex

On January 17, TheCable visited Monaplex factory to check if the situation has improved and staff members now provided with safety equipment.

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Our reporter visited the factory alongside a quartet of Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC) officers.

Upon arrival at the facility, some staff members were loading a heap of plastic products — tables, chairs, basins — into a truck. All workers wore safety jackets and boots, but only a few wore gloves.

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A worker operating a machine while using an earplug but without gloves

There was a marked-out safety walkway from the facility entrance to the factory and the administration building. The walkway was demarcated by a thin, amber line less than a few feet wide.

The LSSC officers accessed the walkway and agreed that the path should have been wider and the paint more visible for maximum safety.

The factory’s general manager of operation, simply known as Kumar, said the company made efforts to improve its workers’ safety since the report was published.

He said the company employed a health safety executive (HSE) to supervise the workers and enforce adherence to safety rules.

An HSE is a certified expert who is trained to identify hazards in a workplace and help put sensible controls in place to protect workers from harm.

Kumar added that Monaplex also conducted safety training for all staff of the company.

“We have hired an HSC officer, and he has just resumed. We’ve also given the staff HSC training, and we have the certificates,” the general manager said.

Safety signs to be placed around the factory

Kumar said extra layers of air filters now allow more factory ventilation.

Some of the workers had earplugs protecting them from the roar of the machines, while others did not.

When asked why the company has failed to ensure the compulsory use of full safety gear on its staff, Kumar assured that Monaplex would enforce total adherence soon.

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