From the Editor - May 2018

Editors Pages

Gill Nelson, Editor-in-Chief

The Cambridge English dictionary defines compliance as “the fact of obeying a particular law or rule, or of acting according to an agreement”. In this issue of Occupational Health Southern Africa, two papers discuss failures to comply. The first addresses occupational health practitioners’ compliance with certain sections of the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) - the two main Acts governing occupational health in South Africa. The second paper reports on employees’ compliance, or lack thereof, regarding the use of personal protective equipment (respirators), as regulated under the OHSA. Section 8 of the OHSA addresses the general duties of employers to their employees. Specifically, Section 8.2 (e) states that “employers should provide the necessary information, instructions and training to employees to ensure their health and safety”. Section 14, which covers the duties of employees, states that “every employee shall… take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself …” under Section 14 (a). 

An Act is a written law passed by Parliament; therefore non-compliance constitutes breaking the law. In Section 37 of the OHSA, it is clearly stated that contravening these instructions can result in conviction and sentencing. In Chapter 7, Section 91, of the MHSA, it is written, “Any person, including an employer, who …fails to comply… commits an offence and is liable to a fine or imprisonment …”. Yet, the evidence reported in the papers by Michell and Rispel, and Kerr and Mbhele, indicates that both employers and employees blatantly flout the law. Regardless of whether this is due to ignorance or, worse, indifference, training programmes need to be intensified, and the Acts and Regulations related to occupational health need to be enforced.

The need for training is a thread that runs through all three research papers in this issue. Kgakge, Chelule and Zungu identify training as a potential mitigator of the musculoskeletal pain suffered by healthcare workers as a result of standing, bending, and lifting patients and other heavy objects.

The Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC) has been active in sharing research and news. You can access the most recent newsletter at: If you would like to be added to the mailing list, please contact Mpho Tlala at

I would like to draw your attention to the OSHAfrica Conference to be held from 18 to 20 September 2019 at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg. This promises to be an exciting event with plenty of opportunities to network and establish research collaborations with occupational health colleagues throughout Africa.

For more occupational health (OH) news, please visit the new ‘News & Reports’ page on our website ( Here you can access reports on OH conferences, seminars, workshops and other events; find notifications of training programmes; keep abreast of legislative updates; and read news about people on the move in OH. We do not always have space for this interesting material in the printed version of the Journal. Please also consult the new ‘Upcoming Events’ page on the website for a comprehensive ‘rolling’ calendar of upcoming local and international OH events; direct links to the event organisers’ websites will be provided.

I am currently on sabbatical in London, experiencing the start of summer. Please keep warm in the coming months and continue to submit your research papers via the Scholastica portal. You can access the link on the journal website Other, non-research contributions (news, opinions, workshop and conference reports, etc.) should be emailed to me directly at Please contact Kevin Beaumont at for any technical issues.

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