OHTA is pleased to release its first edition of the new OHTA Global Link newsletter, developed by Deborah Dietrich, Jason Hodgkiss and team. This newsletter was created to profile efforts and successes, increase communication and networking among associations in OHTA member countries, and enhance engagement with OHTA volunteers and stakeholders. The newsletter will, hopefully, also serve to promote global recognition of the OHTA training modules, increase participation in the courses and identify opportunities to leverage learnings. The newsletter will be sent monthly with featured articles on what the PEOPLE in occupational hygiene around the world are doing to advance the profession and worker health, safety and well-being.
FOCUS ON SOUTH AFRICA
Occupational hygienists in South Africa have been doing some amazing work to advance the profession and have some exciting news to share. So, we are pleased to feature their country in the first edition of the Global Link OHTA newsletter.
We wish to thank Peter-John Jacobs, OHTA director and former president of both the International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA) and the Southern African Institute for Occupational Hygiene (SAIOH), for his invaluable contribution to this edition.
South Africa: workplace statistics
In September 2020, Statistics South Africa reported that there was a total of 16.37 million persons employed in South Africa. Approximately 3 million of these workers are employed in the informal economy according to the South African Quarterly Labour Force Surveys (QLTS). The informal economy is generally defined as that part of the economy that is neither taxed nor monitored by any form of government. In a move toward full equality in workplace legal and social protective measures, South Africans have begun work to transition workers from the informal to the formal economy based on the ILO’s document known as Recommendation 204.
The largest industries in the formal economy include mining and mineral processing. South Africa is a major producer and exporter of gold, platinum, diamonds, and coal. Other large industries include agriculture, food processing, and automotive manufacturing.
The significant occupational hazards found here include airborne pollutants such as fibrogenic dusts, diesel particulate matter, and physical stressors such as noise and whole body/hand-arm vibration. Occupational diseases such as asbestosis and silicosis are of particular concern in South Africa with a number of high profile law suits playing out in recent years.
South African occupational hygienists in action
The Southern African Institute for Occupational Hygiene (SAIOH) was officially launched in the year 2000 to enhance occupational hygiene as a discipline (www.saioh.co.za) . SAIOH currently provides its approximately 900 members with a variety of critical resources including the Occupational Health Southern Africa (OHSA) technical journal, Safety First magazine, and continuing education and networking events. Current leadership of SAIOH include Hennie van der Westhuizen (President) and Deon Jansen van Vuuren (General Manager).
As a crowning achievement, in 2010 the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) recognized SAIOH as the Professional Registration Body for Occupational Hygienists in South Africa. This recognition allows the SAIOH Professional Certifications Committee (PCC), who is responsible for the certification of Occupational Hygiene practitioners, to assess candidates and register these candidates if they meet a set certification criterion as either:
The SAIOH PCC has set minimum standards and qualifications for the recognition of competency for each certification criteria based on recommendations by the International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA). SAIOH’s PCC had its certification scheme recognised by IOHA in 2005.
SAIOH and OHTA’s relationship span many years and SAIOH has an excellent track record in the development of Occupational Hygiene competencies across Africa. As a result of this collaboration, there are currently 8 OHTA Approved Training Providers (ATPs) in South Africa including:
The OHTA training modules are often the only formal training that persons responsible for health and safety within a workplace may receive in Occupational Hygiene. As such, these courses play a large part in the development and certification of future occupational hygiene professionals. South African ATPs run the OHTA training courses across Africa having presented courses as far afield as Ghana, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, and other countries with courses already in the planning stages for 2021.
A South African ATP assisted the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS), in administering the OHTA examinations for the first online W201 – Basic Principles in Occupational Hygiene examination. Here are two examinees “writing” the online open book examination.
An OHTA course attendee is proud to demonstrate his newly acquired skills during a practical exercise undertaken during the W505 – Control of Hazardous Substances training module
Students took noise measurements during the W503-Noise Measurement and its Effects training module.
Smiling students learned how to calibrate sampling pumps during the W501 – Measurement of Hazardous Substances training module.
Group photos of people who partook in various OHTA training modules presented in Ghana, Namibia, and South Africa during 2019 and 2020.
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