1133 Calling occupational health to the forefront

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Abstract

Introduction

An overview was conducted of the exposure and impact Occupational Health has had in RSA when compared to Safety and the Environmental disciplines. Although Occupational Health eventually established a foothold in RSA during the industrial era of the early 1900’s, the discipline appeared to have evolved much slower with limited recognition. A foundation to further develop evidence based strategies that could revitalise the effective use and or recognition of Occupational Health in the multi-disciplinary approach was much needed.

Method

A scoping review of over 50 literature resources published since 2012 was conducted. The focus was on the evolvement and/or impact of historic milestones, legal frameworks, stakeholder involvement, and awareness strategies in RSA as compared between the disciplines of Occupational Health, Safety and Environment. The literature sources predominated around level 7 evidence. These were current legislation, standards, journal articles, professional association guidelines, professional newsletters, news and media feeds. A content analysis was conducted and tabularised for comparison.

Results

Although health appeared to be a common thread, it was frequently coupled with safety and/or the environment resulting in a diluted picture with health in the background. The volumes of legislation, standards and guidelines for safety and the environment far outweighed Occupational Health. Implementation focused on safety and/or environmental strategies rather than health which was not decentralised to the district level such as environmental that had municipality bylaws, neither was it broken down into tangible levels for society and communities. Occupational Health in RSA hospitals still remains a huge concern. Small to medium business enterprises were overlooked and currently still pose as one of the challenges.

Discussion

Increased involvement by the OHPs is strongly needed in government decision and policy making processes to cover the gaps. Occupational Health needs commitment, implementation, evaluation, support and penalties of non-compliance by stakeholders, government and labour.

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