JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, November 7, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Anglo American (http://www.angloamerican.com) is investing R15-million in a new Chair, to be known as the Anglo American Endowed Chair in Occupational Hygiene at the Wits School of Public Health (http://www.wits.ac.za).
Photo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1535 (Khanyisile Kweyama, executive director of Anglo American in South Africa)
The Chair will conduct research, and engage in other scholarly activities, with the aim of decreasing employee exposure to dust, noise and other health hazards in mining and other industries, thereby contributing to employee wellbeing.
“The Wits School of Public Health has long been the forerunner in the country in research and postgraduate studies in occupational health. We are very proud to have been granted the funds by Anglo American for this Chair and we are thankful that they are collaborating with us to strengthen our response to occupational hygiene, both in South Africa and Africa. The University’s responsiveness in this important field will advance our vision as a globally competitive and locally relevant university located in the economic and social hub of Africa,” said Professor Adam Habib, Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal
Khanyisile Kweyama, executive director of Anglo American in South Africa said: “This investment reinforces Anglo American’s commitment to health and safety and to the wellbeing our people and communities, through partnerships with government, academia and other stakeholders.
“Our occupational health strategy and management approach are governed by a series of standards, guidelines and assurance processes aimed at preventing harm to our workforce. We are proud of our partnership with Wits University which leverages the institution’s leading research and teaching expertise across a wide spectrum of disciplines within the area of occupational health and hygiene. The partnership will further see a strengthening of the existing link between Anglo American and the university’s mining engineering degree,” concluded Kweyama.
Occupational hygiene is the discipline of anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control of health hazards in the workplace. Dr Andrew Swanepoel, Senior Lecturer and Master of Public Health Occupational Hygiene Coordinator in the Wits School of Public Health, explains: “Other examples of hazards that can be measured and controlled by occupational hygienists include airborne pollutants such as gasses, fumes, noise, vibration, temperature extremes, and biological hazards such as Legionella bacteria.
“State-of-the-art equipment and systems, combined with high-level research and expert practitioners are needed to identify, monitor and control exposure to harmful dust, and all other mining industry-related health hazards.”
The University is well placed to conduct world-class research in occupational hygiene. For more than three decades Wits academics from the School of Public Health, in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH), have been conducting ground-breaking research on mining-related diseases.
“The new partnership with Anglo American is particularly important, as the University was founded on the School of Mining almost a century ago,” said Swanepoel. “Mining continues to play a central role in shaping the social, political, economic and health landscape of South Africa and Africa today, where mining activities are rapidly expanding.”
“Mining and occupational hygiene and health are inseparable and there is a severe shortage of occupational hygienists in South Africa and Africa. This, together with insufficient resources to support occupational hygiene, compromises the ability of the industry to protect and promote the health and wellbeing of employees,” said Swanepoel.
The new Chair will build on the Wits School of Public Health track record and strengthen occupational hygiene by increasing the number of masters and PhD graduates, as well as postdoctoral fellows. Cutting edge research will enhance the health and wellbeing of workers in various industries.
Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Anglo American.
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Notes to editors:
Anglo American (http://www.angloamerican.com) is a global and diversified mining business that provides the raw materials essential for economic development and modern life. Our people are at the heart of our business. It is our people who use the latest technologies to find new resources, plan and build our mines and who mine, process and move and market our products – from bulk commodities and base metals to precious metals and diamonds (through De Beers) – to our customers around the world. Our diversified portfolio of products spans the economic development cycle and, as a responsible miner, we are the custodians of precious resources. We work together with our key partners and stakeholders to unlock the long-term value that those resources represent for our shareholders, but also for the communities and countries in which we operate – creating sustainable value and making a real difference. Our mining operations, growth projects and exploration and marketing activities extend across southern Africa, South America, Australia, North America, Asia and Europe.
ABOUT THE WITS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH
The Wits School of Public Health (WSPH), Faculty of Health Sciences, is a multi-disciplinary school, committed to high quality teaching, research and service, while making significant contributions to health policy, nationally and internationally. It is one of the largest schools of public health in South Africa with an international reputation for its teaching programmes. The undergraduate and postgraduate teaching programmes embrace a range of public health disciplines including; community medicine, epidemiology and biostatistics, health policy and systems, occupational health, rural health, and social and behavioural change communication.