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Assessment of the Health Impact of Occupational Risk in Africa: Current Situation and Methodological Issues

Loewenson Rene
Epidemiology: September 1999
Original Articles: PDF Only

This paper presents information from the current monitoring systems in Africa, mainly Southern Africa, for occupational illness and injury and discusses the quality of the reported data in estimating the health impact of occupational risk. The paper presents and discusses the current profile of reported injury and fatalities for those countries for which data are available, in particular for the countries of the Southern African Development Community. These data indicate that the reported annual injury rates for wage workers in the Southern African Development Community region range widely from 0.35 to 49.42 injuries per 1,000 workers, and reported occupational fatality in the region ranges from 0.85 to 21.6 fatalities per 100,000 workers. Despite wide variability in reported rates (probably caused by variability in coverage and accuracy of reporting systems), transport, agriculture, mining and, to a lesser extent, construction consistently make up about three-quarters of all fatalities, with vehicle-or transport-related causes accounting for high proportions of fatal accidents. The paper identifies and discusses major sources and direction of bias and error in the reported data and suggests approaches for a better assessment of the health impact of occupational illness, injury, and mortality in African countries.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.