Public health

PUBLIC HEALTH

Collective efforts take place between the Department of Health and the mines to ensure that, through the aid of mobile clinics, essential primary healthcare services are made available to villages and informal settlements neighbouring mining operations. 
The necessary community stakeholder relationships – partnerships between the mines’ community-engagement departments, Public Health and the local municipal health structures – have existed for some time. Our mobile clinics treated close to 12,000 patients in 2012.

Together with good public health services, sound nutrition is an essential foundation for a healthy workforce. Amplats regards proper nutrition as a key intervention capable of having a positive impact on safety performance. The Company provides nutritional requirements to all employees living in its single accommodation villages. The 2012 monitoring programme on nutritional standards compliance reflected acceptable average food and nutritional intake, with most nutritional requirements met when assessed against the internationally recognised Dietary Reference Intakes.

Some 270 suspected cases of diarrhoea were reported and investigated in 2012, and were found to have been linked to poor food-safety practices by service providers. A service-level agreement has since been established between Amplats’ supply chain and public health departments, which requires that food suppliers be audited for compliance with food-safety regulations before being approved as vendors.

To ensure uniformity in the supply, maintenance and sanitary condition of all surface and underground ablution facilities, scheduled audits are conducted to check adherence to our health standards. In 2012, 48% of underground ablution facilities inspected adhered to standards. A task team has been established to assist those operations still using the old bucket system to convert to the newer flushable toilet units by 2013. This will result in increased adherence throughout our operations.

Rehabilitation and functional assessment (RFA) tests

Physical work capacity (PWC) and functional work capacity (FWC) tests remain important adjunct assessment tools designed to rate work potential within the overall context of “fitness for work”. The PWC ratings are more predictive of physical limitations, whereas the FWC ratings are designed to assess “self-pacing” capabilities.Together, the PWC data and the FWC data provide invaluable information on individuals’ fitness profiles.

In 2012, the Company’s rehabilitation and functional assessment (RFA) centres conducted 13,932 assessments. The majority of referrals for RFA assessments are from occupational health clinics and approximately 7% of all referrals are related to vocational rehabilitation programmes offered as part of workplace health programmes.

table31

Paramedics who were involved in the Khuseleka evacuation on arrival at Bleskop Hospital

Medical incapacity

The focus on acute and vocational rehabilitation through the implementation of RFA, physiotherapy, wellness and other health programmes are designed to optimise the return 
to work of all affected employees. Those employees who are unable to recover fully from their injuries or illness are referred to the medical 
boarding process.

During the consideration of medical incapacity, the alternative placement of employees who have been declared unfit for a specific job is prioritised. Where necessary, physical and functional work capacity assessments are conducted to determine which tasks an employee will be able to perform.

In 2012, 556 employees were referred for a review of medical incapacity. 412 (74.1%) were successfully placed in alternative positions. A classification of the applications by disease type shows that the majority of applications were associated with chronic and degenerative diseases (391 or 70.3%), followed by infectious diseases (62 or 11.2%).

An important subset of the overall data related to incapacity is that associated with occupational injuries and diseases. Altogether 73 applications were ascribed to this subset – which is equivalent to 13.1% of total applications. Of these, 51 were the result of injuries on duty and 22 were related to occupational disease. A total of 63 (86.3%) of the candidates under this subset were successfully placed in alternative positions. This high rate of successful placement can be attributed to the availability of a rehabilitation programme and to a reliable set of tools for physical and functional assessment. 
The remaining ten employees were medically boarded.

Regulation of occupational health and safety

The key regulatory provisions governing health and safety in the mining industry are covered under the Mine Health and Safety Act (No 29 of 1996). The policy formulation process embraces tripartism and, consequently, the make-up of statutory bodies under the Act is constituency based. With respect to occupational health, the health team at Amplats has participated in discussion on a number of important topics that may impact future regulatory requirements. These topics included emergency medical care, hearing conservation, sampling strategies in occupational hygiene, minimum fitness standards and the management of TB.