News » Department of Labour Workshop
1 January - 20 November 2012

Department of Labour Ergonomics Workshop

The Ergonomics Society of South Africa recently hosted a very successful workshop with the occupational health and safety inspectors from the South African department of labour. At the end of July 30 inspectors from around the country were hosted by the department of Human Kinetics and Ergonomics at Rhodes University for a two day workshop on ergonomics.


This workshop stems from the relationship that the society has built with the department of labour over the last two years. In February, ESSA Chairman, Andrew Todd presented at the departments occupational health and safety conference (on a road to zero injuries and illnesses) in Johannesburg. After this conference, the department committed to further training of the inspectorate in terms of ergonomics and it has been very positive to see that this has already started to happen. The purpose of the workshop was to:

Provide department of labour inspectors with:
• an understanding of the principles of ergonomics
• awareness of the various ergonomics assessment tools
• application of these principles to a variety of work environments
• examples of research and its application within the South Africa context 
This would hopefully provide the inspectors with a better understanding of ergonomics and therefore they would be able to assess compliance with ergonomics regulations.

A further aim of the workshop was to develop a co-operative responsibility to ensure work environments are:
• safe
• healthy
• productive
Over the course of the workshop ten practicing ergonomists and academics from around the country presented on their area of expertise to the inspectors. The focus was to ensure that the inspectors got a better idea of the ergonomics factors they need to look out for in terms of compliance within specific industries. The inspectors were informed about key areas of concern in forestry, healthcare, railways, mining, automotive industry, construction amongst others.
Feedback from the department was incredibly positive and they have committed to further training and to working on clarifying the role of ergonomics within the occupational health and safety act. These are very encouraging developments and can hopefully be a meaningful step to ensuring that ergonomics is taken seriously, not only by the South African government but also industry.
We would like to thank all those that contributed to making this workshop a success and we looking forward to further developments.