From the Editor

Gill Nelson, Editor-in-Chief


We find ourselves at a very exciting time in the history of occupational safety and health (OSH) on the African continent. Several efforts have been made in the past to promote the discipline on the continent. Some have been successful, but the official launch of OSHAfrica in 2018 has created new energy. Currently, OSHAfrica has representation in 38 countries and is growing. 

In this issue, the President of OSHAfrica presents some thoughts on the recent OSHAfrica 2019 Conference that was held in South Africa in September. Under the ever-watchful eye of Dr Thuthula Balfour and the OSHAfrica Conference Planning Committee, everything came together ‘seamlessly’. One cannot dispute that this, the first pan-African OSH Conference, was a huge success,  attracting more than 1 000 delegates from 31 African countries and many other parts of the world. The Conference created an environment for both OSH academics and practitioners to present their work.  In addition, many colleagues who had met online on the OSHAfrica WhatsApp group met, in person, for the first time.

Zodwa Ndlovu had the opportunity to work behind the scenes, as Chief Rapporteur, with a team, making notes on the key points of each presentation. Cross-cutting issues that emerged during the Conference were used to draw up a set of recommendations which were presented at the closing plenary. We hope to share these with you once the Conference report has been finalised. It is hoped that all OSH practitioners will work towards turning the recommendations into reality, and present updates at the OSHAfrica 2022 Conference in Kenya.


Salesperson, Ms Anne van Vliet, staffing the Occupational Health Southern Africa stand at OSHAfrica Photograph: Kevin Beaumont

We are glad to report that Occupational Health Southern Africa had a presence at the Conference. Our stand was manned by Kevin Beaumont, the Journal’s publisher, and Anne van Vliet, who deals with sales. The team introduced the Journal to OSH professionals from all over the world. Copies of the Journal were also added to the delegates’ goodie bags, and leaflets promoting the Journal were distributed throughout the Conference venues. We look forward to growing the Journal’s footprint in Africa as OSHAfrica develops.
You will notice that we have a new ‘partner’ in this issue – we welcome the flagship International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA) Global Exposure Manager newsletter. Forthcoming issues of the Journal will feature IOHA news items, or IOHA articles on topics of international interest. Prof. Tom Fuller, President Elect of IOHA and Education Committee Chair, board member of the Occupational Hygiene Training Association, member of Workplace Health Without Borders (WHWB), and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) Chair of the Emerging Economy Microgrant Subcommittee of the International Affairs Committee, was instrumental in this initiative, and we welcome his future involvement in Occupational Health Southern Africa, as a member of the Editorial Advisory Panel.

I have just returned from a six-month productive sabbatical in London where occupational health research is high on the UK Government’s agenda. A report, entitled The Value of Occupational Health Research, was launched in August in the House of Lords. It seems that developed countries experience similar problems to our own. The report emphasises the importance of research to identify causes of ill health. It also highlights the issues of workers being ‘forgotten’ once they leave the workforce, and the failure to help injured or ill employees return to work through rehabilitation. The latter is a topic that has been addressed in several research papers in Occupational Health Southern Africa. Less than 50% of workers have access to occupational health services, and there is a lack of investment in training of occupational health practitioners, and research. I was shocked to read that “most of the research centres which have studied work-related diseases and ill-health have closed over the past 40 years and there are fewer academics trained in this field”. For more details, see

We urge you to access the Journal website for details about upcoming events, the abstracts from the recent SASOM-MEDICHEM Conference, and other occupational health news and updates.

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