Kgokong N, Vorster T, Vorajee N, Lakhoo D, Murray J, Ndlovu N, Phillips JI
Occupational Health Southern Africa. Vol 24 No 1 January/February 2018
The National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH) annual report on autopsies in mine workers for the period January to December 2016 is in the public domain on the NIOH website; this article highlights aspects of the report. A total of 850 autopsy examinations were performed, of which 4.5% (n = 38) were women, most (71.1%) of whom had been exposed to asbestos. The annual number of autopsies performed continues to decline along with the numbers of people employed in mining. This highlights the problems of awareness and access to the compensation system, particularly amongst former black miners. The report reflects some success in tackling the pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) epidemic with rates continuing to decrease since 2007. The current overall rate of 152 cases of PTB per 1000 autopsies, however, remains high. Of particular concern is the increasing trend in silicosis amongst black gold miners. There is an urgent need to prevent exposure of mine workers to dust, particularly silica dust, in the gold mining industry.
Keywords: tuberculosis, silicosis, occupational lung disease, PATHAUT, gold mining