1645b Ubuntu the african spirituality in occupational and environmental health and safety


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Abstract

South Africa is an upper middle-income economy with a fledging tertiary sector (service, financial and knowledge economy) rooted in the primary sector (mining and agriculture) and secondary sector (manufacturing). South Africa’s diverse economy has contributed immensely to the mortality and morbidity of the South African workforce as a result of occupational injuries and diseases. While there is limited data on occupational injuries and diseases for South Africa namely rock fall accidents and silicosis in mining; tuberculosis and musculoskeletal injuries in healthcare; motor vehicle accidents and fall from heights in construction; noise induced hearing loss as well as mental health issues across industries; these are but a few causes for concern in occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) in South Africa.South Africa, like most Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states with precarious working conditions, still has limited and/or absent access to OEHS. This is a phenomenon that ‘echoes an uncaring society’, especially on the part of the South African tripartite leaders (regulator, employer and trade union movement), which suggest that as a country we may be falling short of the African spirit of UBUNTU.Broadly UBUNTU is an essential human virtue with compassion and humanity embedded in it. It embodies the spirit of the greater good of growing together and caring for one another as human beings, families, communities and nations. In OEHS numerous statutes give responsibilities to tripartite leaders on compliance with minimum OEHS standards and services for the workforce. Thus, this paper looks at the spirit of UBUNTU and OEHS by addressing the question: ‘Do tripartite leaders (human beings) in their roles in managing the country’s economy and providing OEHS services – which are a basic human right for the workforce (human beings) – consider the spirit of UBUNTU in executing their responsibilities?’

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