The Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act, 1973 (Act 78 of 1973) requires that the cardio-respiratory organs of a deceased person who has worked at a controlled mine or a controlled works be examined for the presence of occupational disease, regardless of the clinical cause of death and provided that the next of kin agrees. These examinations are performed by pathologists at the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH). A detailed report on each case examined is sent to the Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases (MBOD). Cases certified as having a compensable disease are then referred to the Compensation Commissioner’s office, where the payment for compensation is managed.
Since 1975, the pathological findings from the autopsy examinations have been recorded on the computerised PATHAUT database. PATHAUT comprises data from autopsy examinations and clinical files which include occupational histories. The database is unique and provides an important resource for both surveillance and research. These data are the only comprehensive surveillance data on occupational lung disease in the South African mining industry.