Car manufacturer Ford South Africa has donated R2.5 million to help enhance the National Occupational Health Surveillance System (OHSS) run by the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH). The system collects and analyses private and public sector employee data to strengthen workplace interventions and mitigate transmission of Covid-19 and other diseases.
With this donation Ford has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting the national government’s Covid-19 initiatives during the pandemic. Ford has already produced more than 285 000 face shields to help curb the spread of the disease and donated money and vehicle support to many non-profit organisations.
The OHSS uses data supplied by employers on Covid-19 infections in the workplace under the direction of the department of employment and labour to identify industries and occupational groups at risk of infection and inform appropriate interventions, such as policies, programmes or resources to mitigate the spread of the disease.
The data is also used to analyse the impact of the disease on industries and occupational groups. The OHSS also monitor all other occupational diseases.
Experts from the NIOH, a division of the National Health Laboratory Service run by the national department of health (NDoH), have been leading the country on Covid-19 workplace guidelines and procedures, surveillance, online training and education, as well as research.
The pandemic hit the people of South Africa extremely hard in various ways, says Neale Hill, managing director of Ford South Africa. “It became abundantly clear during this global health crisis that we need a coordinated, data-driven and strategic approach to understand and handle the pandemic and target specific areas of concern.”
Dr Spo Kgalamono, executive director of the NIOH, said the OHSS project is a huge task considering its national scale and potential coverage of workplaces with more than 50 workers. “It requires a dedicated and experienced team, human and physical resources, technological advances and expertise, as well as training and awareness to meet the requirements of the system.”
The OHSS was developed by the CSIR and NIOH as a response to the pandemic. “This donation will assist the institute to improve and maintain its hardware, upgrade and develop operating systems and data visualisation and develop and provide data links with employers in the formal sector,” says Kgalamono.
“The reports are presented at the national occupational health workstream meetings in the national department of health Covid-19 response as well as to trade unions, employer and community groups in Nedlac.”