Railway occupational health course in July

The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) hosts a railway occupational health and medical practitioner course, including human factors management, in Pretoria on 4 to 9 July 2016.

The course is aimed at Occupational Health Practitioners, and Occupational Medical Practitioners.

Presenters include Dr Spo Kgalamono, Dr Millicent Tlakula, Dr Odette Abrahams, and Gabriel Mizan.

The RSR develops standards for the industry to comply with. One such standard is the Human Factors Management Standard (SANS 3000-4:2011), which stipulates the minimum requirements to mitigate human factor risks in the railway environment.

Contained in this standard are issues of occupational health. These include the establishment of a medical surveillance programme, as it has a strong link with the selection and recruitment of safety critical and related grades, as well as continuous management of employees’ health, safety and wellness during the course of their employment.

Compliance to the Standard’s requirement on medical surveillance remains an area of concern. This was discovered during the periodical audits and occurrence investigations conducted by the RSR.

As a mitigation measure, the RSR finds guidance in Section 7 of the NRSR Act that reads “the Regulator for the purpose of achieving its objects in terms of Section 5 of this Act, may collaborate with any educational, scientific or other body, government or institution in connection with the provision of instruction for, or the training of persons required by the Regulator”.

The RSR has, therefore, collaborated with the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH), a Schedule 3 state entity to offer railway specific occupational health training to Occupational Health and Medical Practitioners.

The rationale behind the course is to improve competence (qualified, skilled, accredited and or experienced) in occupational health and medicine specifically within the railway industry.

Ultimately the RSR seeks to gradually reduce occurrences attributable to occupational health and safety risks in order for the RSR to achieve its ultimate goal of zero occurrences Section 6.3 of SANS 3000-4:2011 describes elements of the medical surveillance program.

One of the key elements of the medical surveillance program is to determine, monitor and manage employees health, which may impact on safe railway operations.

It is crucial that Occupational Health Professionals (OHP) understand railway operations and the risk associated with them.

Training is one of the ways to impart knowledge and improve skills of individuals to enable a safe workplace and healthy workforce.

During the audits conducted by the RSR it has been identified that there is no training course offered to the OHP employed, which is specific to the hazards, risks and associated health outcomes due to exposure in the railway industry.

A five-day advanced training course has been developed for Occupational Medical Practitioners (OMP) employed in the railway industry with prior occupational health and safety knowledge.

The training curriculum was designed and developed by a team comprising occupational medicine practitioners, occupational hygiene specialists, ergonomists, psychologist and scientists from the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH) together with experienced OMP from the railway industry.

Railway OH course objectives

The objective of the training is to narrow the knowledge gap in occupational health practice managed by the occupational health doctors and nurses in the railway industry.

• Focus on enhancing ability of OHP to understand the Human Factors Management Standard, SANS 3000-4: 2011, in order to mitigate human factor risks within the railway industry.

• Provide basic background information on occupational health based on SANS 3000 as pre-reading material prior to the course.

• Based on the long term goals of the RSR, this course will serve as a basis for specialized training envisaged by the RSR for the Occupational health medical practitioners employed in railway industry.

Certicate of attendance and competency will be issued, with CPD points.

* Contact ntombikayisen@rsr.org.za or 012 848 3108.

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