Vision Zero seeks to end lung disease in miners

The Chronicle

Yoliswa Dube-Moyo, Head of Matabeleland South Office

Regular testing for pneumoconiosis among miners reduces the risk of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases, which is essential to achieving “Vision Zero”.

Pneumoconiosis can lead to impairment, disability and premature death. The two main types of pneumoconiosis that affect miners are miners’ pneumoconiosis and silicosis.

CWP, commonly known as black lung, affects coal mine workers. Silicosis can affect workers in many types of mines and quarries, including coal mines.

According to experts, medical treatment cannot cure these diseases, so it is essential to prevent them, by controlling exposure to respirable dust.

Occupational safety and health expert Dr Mbongeni Sibanda said miners were at risk of developing pneumoconiosis due to their exposure to airborne respirable dust.

“This type of dust includes extra fine particles that people can inhale into their lung tissue. Miners may also have an increased risk of dying from lung cancer,” Dr Sibanda said.

He said the risk increased when miners were exposed to diesel engine exhaust for five years or more.

“Exposure to diesel engine exhaust can produce symptoms typical of asthma. Exposure to diesel exhaust can also contribute to other respiratory symptoms, including nose irritation, inflammatory changes in the airways, and decline in lung function. Other respiratory illnesses, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), can also occur in miners. These diseases can occur alone or in addition to pneumoconiosis,” said Dr Sibanda.

“Vision Zero” is a transformational approach to prevention that integrates the three dimensions of safety, health and well-being at all levels of work.

Safe and healthy working conditions are not only a legal and moral obligation, they also pay off economically.

International research on the return on investment in prevention proves that every dollar invested in safety and health generates a potential benefit of more than two dollars in positive economic spinoffs.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), approximately two million workers die each year from work-related accidents and occupational diseases and at least 402 million people suffer from non-fatal work-related accidents.

Joint estimates from the World Health Organization and the ILO have pointed out that from 2006 to 2016, work-related diseases were responsible for 81% of all work-related deaths, deaths from occupational accidents accounting for the remaining 19% of work-related fatalities.

The occupational risk factor with the highest number of attributable deaths was exposure to long working hours

Workplace accidents and occupational diseases are estimated to contribute 5.4% of the annual loss of global gross domestic product. – @Yoliswa

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