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Health Sciences
and former workers on South African mines, with an
emphasis on silicosis, HIV and tuberculosis, and promoting
an appropriate health systems response in Southern Africa.
Health Risk Management Programme
The Health Risk Management Programme conducts
research, capacity building (teaching and networking), social
responsiveness, policy analysis and develops interventions/
risk communication materials in the area of environmental
health, public health, pesticides and chemical, health and
safety, and risk reduction. Research in 2012 focused on the
silent public and environmental health problem of informal
vendors selling agricultural pesticides for domestic use
in low-socio economic communities of Cape Town; child
poisonings from street pesticides; occupational herbicide
exposures of community workers removing alien vegetation
in the Working for Water programme. These research
projects involve engagement with NGOs, community
leaders/members, national, provincial and municipal
government departments (health, agriculture and water
affairs). Capacity building is through information sharing
of research findings and policy information through UCT
established electronic list servers, an on-line discussion
forums with African Pesticide regulators, and a the
Post Graduate Diploma in Pesticide Risk Management
(DPRM). An innovative bi-monthly discussion forum is
conducted as a virtual semiar through vula for students
with global experts in the field of pesticides and health.
The Post Graduate Diploma in Pesticide Risk Management
(DPRM) is structured around the United Nations Code
of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides
and has been developed in conjunction with the United
Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and
the Swedish Chemical Agency (KemI). In 2012 the first 15
DPRM students graduated, two with distinctions.There are
currently 19 students registered in the programme.
A broad range of students have actively participated
in research projects in the Health Risk Management
Programme both MPH students and anthropology students
(undergraduate, honours and master’s). Students have
conducted household survey, case reviews and interviews,
as well as developed risk communication tools, presented
findings at conferences and to health professionals (e.g.,
Environmental Health Professionals and Community Health
Promoters), and participated in training for workers.
The Health Risk Management programme also develops
a range of risk communication materials and health
interventions, algorithm, and policy briefs based on
research findings.These mediums are used in order to
disseminate and translate research findings for a broad
range of stakeholders and continue to be widely distributed
in printed form and as Creative Commons licensed
electronic material posted on UCTs Open UCT site. The
programme also conducts policy analysis and inputs to
national, regional and international policies on chemical
risk management and environmental health.
Industrial Health Resource Group (IHRG)
Within the COEHR, the Industrial Health Resource Group
(IHRG) operates as an action research and socially responsive
development group, providing occupational health and
safety research, curriculum development, training, advice,
and resource development services for trade unions and
their members. The work of IHRG is guided by a vision of
building the capacity of trade unions and their members to
independently monitor, enforce, defend and advance the
workplace health and safety rights of workers.
IHRG does representation, investigative and advocacy
work for workers and trade unions in relation to workplace
health and safety incidents and cases of work-related
injury and disease. During 2012 IHRG had a higher degree
of engagement than previously with the Department of
Labour’s (DoL) Compensation Commissioner and Health
and Safety Inspectorate, with the Public Protector and with
the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to address the
issues arising from its experience of assisting workers with
occupational injury and diseases.
IHRG assisted with 75 cases of occupational injury and
disease involving more than 250 workers in 2012. Most of
the cases were individual workers from breweries, retail,
manufacturing, clothing, communications, engineering,
motor, municipal, road freight transport, public health,
printing, prisons, public transport, farming, furniture making
and security sectors. There were also two large groups of
organised unemployed workers –ex-Everite workers and
ex-mine mine workers. Two of the cases involved groups
of workers from single workplaces – the family members of
the 13 workers killed in a fire at Paarl Print, and three labour
broker workers who were injured in a fire at the Engen
petrochemical plant in Cape Town.
In December 2012 IHRG convened a discussion with
a group of trade unionists and occupational medicine
specialists to discuss IHRG’s first draft of its forthcoming
revised Pilot COIDA booklet. The group included
representatives from COSATU, NUM, NUMSA, SAMWU
and Solidarity, occupational medicine specialists from the
University of Cape Town, as well as Dr. Sophia Kisting,
former Director of the ILO HIV/AIDS Program. IHRG
intends consulting with this Reference Group during 2013
on the further development of training material around
case management and compensation.