Notwithstanding occupational health and safety legislation, it is estimated that globally 2.3 million workers die each year as a result of occupational accidents or work-related (occupational) diseases, with the latter accounting for two million deaths. Furthermore, it is estimated that 160 million workers suffer from occupational diseases. Against this backdrop OHHRI was established as a research Niche Area within the Faculty of Health Sciences in 2015. Our focus concerns the anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control of chemical and physical stressors (factors) posing a risk to the health of workers in South African workplaces. Although the focus is primarily occupational hygiene research, the ultimate outcome thereof promotes worker health by preventing the development of occupational disease through creation of workplaces that is not detrimental to health.
Apart from the occupational hygiene expertise and growing competency of our researchers and an expansive collection of specialized research instruments, our competitive advantage may be attributed to: (i) our specific focus on occupational hygiene research, with other universities conducting research in predominantly occupational, environmental and public health; (ii) our history of, and ongoing collaboration with industry, in particular the platinum mining industry; and (iii) our structured MSc degree in occupational hygiene, which is not offered by any other South African university.
Research collaboration is not limited to industry partners, and research collaboration exist with other research entities of the NWU, other national and international universities and institutes.