From the Editor - August 2017

 We are very pleased to have an issue packed with research and interesting news and updates.  This issue contains a range of topics that we hope will both hold your attention and be useful in your daily practices. Caradee Wright and colleagues have written an excellent review on the dangers of exposure to solar UV light in the workplace. It is commonly overlooked as a hazardous exposure, despite the fact that South Africa’s UV index is in the ‘very high’ range of 9-10 in summer.1 At a UV index of 8, the World Health Organization warns: “Avoid being outside during midday hours! Make sure you seek shade! Shirt, sunscreen and hat are a must!” In South Africa, skin cancer accounts for about 30% of diagnosed cancer cases.2

Bonnet et al. measured burnout in a group of specialised medical practitioners, using the Maslach Burnout Inventory. The risk of burnout is something many of us can relate to, and work-related stress has been shown to be associated with many poor outcomes, including absenteeism, insomnia, headaches, hypertension, alcohol abuse,3 and chronic diseases later in life, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus.4 Back pain has also been associated with stress.5 While Raphela did not address work-related stress in his comparative study on lower back pain in welders/fitters and office workers, he did find that back pain was associated with headaches and sleep disturbances, as well as the physical location of the tasks performed.

We are pleased to publish the second part of the position paper on safety and health in mining by Elgstrand et al., which continues the discussion from Part 1 about key occupational risks and diseases. 

Thuthula Balfour has written a comprehensive and important article on the integration of compensation legislation in South Africa, specifically with regard to the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (ODMWA) of 1973, and the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) of 1993.

The MMPA page features the two outgoing Presidents; in the next issue of the Journal, we will feature the incoming President and Vice President. Penny Orton from SASOHN has kindly explained the new qualifications in nursing and how they affect occupational health nurses. The SASOM pages include summarised reports on the Seminar on Driver Fitness and Certification, the Workshop on Hazardous Biological Agents, and the Annual Congress. SAIOH reports on its special annual general meeting held in May, the NIOH’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work, AIHCce 2017, and much more. For a full report on the many interesting papers delivered at the recent SASOM Annual Congress, please access the Journal website.

We thank everyone for their contributions to this issue, and apologise to those whose articles we have had to delay publishing due to space constraints. Rest assured that you will see them in print in the next issue of Occupational Health Southern Africa.



1. Ultraviolet radiation (UV). World Health Organization, undated. Available from: (accessed 24 Jul 2017).

2. The Conversation. The cost of skin cancer: South Africa is spending more than it should. Available from: (accessed 24 Jul 2017).

3. Frone MR. Work stress and alcohol use: developing and testing a biphasic self-medication model. Work & Stress 2016; 30:374-394. Available from: (accessed 24 Jul 2017).

4. Pan K-Y, Xu W, Mangialasche F, Fratiglioni L, Wang HX. Work-related psychosocial stress and the risk of type 2 diabetes in later life. J Intern Med 2017; 281:601-610. Available from: (accessed 24 Jul 2017).

5. The American Institute of Stress. Stress Effects. Available from: (accessed 24 Jul 2017).

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