Occupational Health Services
Occupational health is concerned with the health and safety of employees at work. The aim of the occupational health services is to promote a healthy, safe and satisfactory work environment, and a healthy, active and productive worker. However, there are workplaces that are unsafe and that affect the health of the workers.
Occupational health professionals (doctors/nurses) at all health facilities are trained to identify, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate employees who have chronic diseases and injuries as a result of being injured in the workplace or being exposed to hazardous substances at work.
Inspectors from the Inspection and Enforcement Services of the National Department of Labour (see labour services) routinely visit factories and other workplaces. They make sure the workplace conforms to the health and safety standards as set down by the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, which is administered by the Department of Labour. The inspectors advise managers and owners on how to improve working conditions where necessary, and may enforce the labour law by serving contravention notices, suspension of services and prosecutions.
Environmental health practitioners who work in terms of the Health Act 63 of 1977 only check some workplaces such as restaurants, airports and sea ports, to ensure they comply with health regulations.
IS YOUR HEALTH BEING NEGATIVELY AFFECTED AT WORK?
Here are some questions you can ask yourself if you suspect that your health is being affected by your place of work:
Remember that if you are injured or ill as a result of the work you do, you can claim compensation. Compensation is administered by the Department of Labour and not the Department of Health. You can be compensated for all reasonable medical costs.
REPORTING ILLNESSES OR INJURIES
If you are ill due to work exposures or practices, or if you are injured at work, you must report this to your employer, who is required by law to send you to a health facility for investigation and treatment. Primary health care staff may refer you to a secondary or tertiary hospital depending on the complexity of the illness or injury.
The Reed Street Clinic in Bellville, Cape Town, is dedicated specifically to people with occupational health problems. It is open one day a week and you have to make an appointment. The telephone number is 021 946 3790.
It is essential that you tell the nursing sister what you have been exposed to in current and previous workplaces. These could include: noise, dust, asbestos, gas, fumes and vibrating machinery, as well as abnormal stress.
Reed Street Clinic has links with provincial primary health care clinics, private doctors and employers, trade unions, the Department of Labour, environmental health practitioners and Tygerberg and Groote Schuur Hospitals.
Depending on the complexity of the illness or injury you may be referred to Groote Schuur Hospital's Work Health Occupational Diseases Clinic. Employees may also be referred to the Groote Schuur's Work Rehabilitation and Assessment Centre where they will be assessed and rehabilitated to the point where they will be able to return to work. If not, a team of health professionals including physiotherapists, occupational therapists will recommend that the client be re-deployed or boarded.
APPLYING FOR COMPENSATION
The employer and the health professional that attend to you have to complete forms according to the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Act 130 of 1993. There are 28 categories of occupational diseases that are recognised by the Compensation Commissioner.
If you are a first-time visitor to the health facility you will be asked to fill out a form and a folder will be opened. Bring your ID book, a referral letter (if required), and any medication you are taking. If you are referred to a hospital you will be asked for your most recent payslip/income assessment (IRP5). Bring your hospital card, if previously registered at the hospital.
These facility categories:
|Government Body:||(Western Cape Government)|
- Occupational Health and Safety Act, 85 of 1993 (Act) (File type: pdf; size: 114.47 KB)
- Provincial Environmental and Occupational Health: Roles and Functions (Public Information) (File type: pdf; size: 34.97 KB)
- Reporting a hazardous workplace (Service)
- Claiming compensation for occupational injuries or diseases (Service)