IOHA sponsors North-West University Student Top Achiever Award

IOHA NEWSLETTER & TECHNICAL UPDATES

 

Johan du Plessis, North-West University, e-mail: Johan.DuPlessis@nwu.ac.za
Dr Thomas Fuller,  IOHA President-Elect, e-mail: tpfuller1@gmail.com

Education and research in the field of occupational hygiene at the North-West University (NWU) in South Africa dates back to the 1970s. Initially, a post-graduate Honours degree was offered but this was later followed by a Master’s degree.  In 2013, the need for a specialised Bachelor’s degree was identified;  the degree was approved within the South African higher education framework in 2015.

The objective of the four-year professional Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) degree in Occupational Hygiene, the only one of its kind in Africa, is scientifically to educate and equip students with the necessary knowledge and specialised skills (including problem solving and relevant competencies) required to become occupational hygienists. This involves training them to be able to anticipate, recognise, evaluate and control health hazards in the working environment, with the objective of protecting workers’ health and wellbeing, and safeguarding the community at large.  The first cohort of students registered for the BHSc in 2016 and will graduate in early 2020.  At present, exactly 100 students are registered for this degree (in any of the four years); at least five are from Namibia and Zimbabwe.  If one considers that there were 893 individuals registered as members of the Southern African Institute for Occupational Hygiene (SAIOH) at the end of 2018, the addition of 100 graduates in the near future will make a significant human resource contribution to the field, which is responsible for rendering occupational hygiene services to a formal workforce of approximately 16 million workers in southern Africa.     

The International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA) has generously sponsored the BHSc Top Achiever Award, which is awarded to the final-year student who achieves the highest overall marks for all the occupational hygiene modules in this degree, over the four-year period. For 2019, this was awarded to Ms Carol-Mari Schulz. The award of US$300 was presented to Carol-Mari at a ceremony held on 24 October 2019 on the Potchefstroom Campus of the NWU. In addition to the IOHA award she received the Fritz Eloff-Petrus Laubscher floating trophy. This trophy carries the names of two NWU academics who were historically responsible for establishing and developing occupational hygiene as a subject field at the university. The trophy itself is a concrete test block from the Occupational Hygiene facility that was built on campus in 2018. Carol-Mari’s immediate future plan is to enroll for a Master’s degree in Occupational Hygiene at the NWU in 2020.

Prof. Fritz Eloff, Ms Carol-Mari Schulz and Mr Petrus Laubscher issued a joint statement of appreciation:  “We sincerely thank IOHA for the sponsorship of this award. As a university, we share the vision of IOHA in promoting occupational hygiene as a profession. We are of the opinion that this degree will make a significant contribution to the advancement of occupational hygiene in South Africa and Africa.”

 

IOHA BOARD MEMBERS’ TRAVELS AND ­PRESENTATIONS   

In October Mr Rene Leblanc, IOHA President, travelled to Medellin, Columbia to attend the Columbian Association of Occupational Hygiene (ACHO) 18th Columbian Congress of Ergonomics. He gave a presentation about future IOHA objectives and strategies, and met with representatives from a variety of organisations to discuss collaborations and projects.

Mr Leblanc also travelled to the 37th Annual Conference and Exhibition of the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH) in Perth, Australia, from 30 November to  4 December 2019. He gave a presentation on IOHA activities and international collaboration. With some persuasion, Rene was also allowed to give an additional presentation to make a case for why IOHA is needed, and what the Association’s strategic plans and most important projects will be in the next five years.

In November 2019,  Dr Tom Fuller, the IOHA President-Elect, travelled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to meet with the Association of Occupational and Environmental Hygienists of the Republic of Argentina (AHRA). The Association has approximately 80 members and has been in existence for several years. The meeting began with an overview of AHRA programmes and activities, both conducted and planned.  Dr Fuller had an opportunity to provide information about IOHA and current projects regarding consensus building for curriculum development. Argentina offers both Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes in occupational hygiene. The development of an occupational hygiene exam in Spanish was also discussed, including the steps needed for it to be accepted into the National Accreditation Recognition programme. 

During this meeting Dr Fuller also spoke about the Occupational Hygiene Training Association (OHTA) and its programmes. He described the various training modules that are available and encouraged AHRA to consider becoming approved trainers so that the OHTA courses can be offered in Argentina.
In a separate meeting, Dr Fuller also met with a new ­occupational hygiene professional group, the Argentine Society of Occupational Hygiene (SAHIO). This group has approximately 30 members and applied for IOHA membership during 2019. Recently, SAHIO received final approval by the Board and is now a full member of IOHA. Congratulations and welcome to IOHA! 


At the BHSc Top Achiever Award ceremony (L-R): Prof. Fritz Eloff, Ms Carol-Mari Schulz and Mr Petrus Laubscher Photograph: Johan du Plessis

 

CREATING A SPANISH-LANGUAGE NATIONAL ACCREDITATION RECOGNITION CERTIFICATION BODY

After recent meetings and conversations with Spanish-speaking organisations in IOHA (AHRA, ACHO, AMHI and AEHI), Dr Fuller has created a group with the intent of establishing a Spanish-language National Accreditation Recognition (NAR) certification body, which will offer examinations in Spanish. The project will proceed in two parallel paths. The objective of the first is to create a governing body that meets the IOHA NAR requirements, including policies, programmes and procedures. The second major activity will involve the development of a large bank of exam questions. Dr Fuller is in the process of identifying a group of volunteers to assist in this project and is aiming for completion within two years.  Anyone with insight or recommendations for the group is encouraged to contact Dr Fuller directly at the e-mail address: tpfuller1@gmail.com


SAHIO meeting attendees in Pilar, Argentina Photograph: Amanda Mastrovincenzo


AHRA meeting attendees in Buenos Aires, Argentina Photograph: unknown

 

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