Occupational Health Surveillance System Report: Volume 1


The Occupational Health Surveillance System (OHSS) was developed to collect occupational health data related to COVID-19 collected during the State of Disaster. It uses COVID-19 surveillance digital platforms and/or taps into existing platforms (e.g. those already used by private sector employers) to collect screening, vulnerability, testing, high risk workplace contacts, health outcomes and return to work data for the surveillance system for workers in the private and public sector.

The specific objectives of the OHSS are to:

  • Provide strategic insights through data analytics and visualization into all phases (i.e. screening, testing, contact tracing within the workplace, vulnerable employees, return to work including health outcomes) of the COVID-19 infection spectrum in the South African workforce.
  • Early identification of industries/companies and occupational groups at high risk of infection so as to inform appropriate interventions (e.g. policy, programmatic, resources).
  • Understand the impact of the COVID-19 interventions in the workplaces.
  • Develop a framework for a COVID-19 surveillance model for monitoring workers in general that includes both public and private sectors.
  • Determine the human resource and economic impact of COVID-19 on the various industrial sectors.
  • Identification of key scientific questions requiring further in-depth investigation.

The OHSS was developed by the National Department of Health, the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH), the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), Centre for Industrial Research (CSIR), Business for South Africa (B4SA) and occupational medicine specialists from University of Cape Town (UCT) and University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN), together with several major private sector corporations. The OHSS was piloted in August to September 2020 and officially commenced on the 1st October 2020 following the release of the Department of Employment and Labour Consolidated COVID-19 Directive on Health and Safety in the Workplace on 28 September 20201This report summarises data for South African workplaces from 1 October 2020 to 31 March 2021 on the OHSS platform.

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