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This content is taken from the University of Bergen, Addis Ababa University & Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences's online course, Occupational Health in Developing Countries. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 0 seconds Welcome to our course in occupational health. This first week we will teach you what occupational health is about. For - what is occupational health, exactly? - We address this by demonstrating work place problems that may cause injuries and diseases and we will tell you that occupational health is such an important issue globally. - Yes, we can tell you that large numbers of workers suffer due to diseases and injuries they experience at work. - For instance, we know that every 15 seconds a worker dies from injury or disease. And we would like to change this, - we want to prevent injuries and diseases. We will tell you about different adverse health effects that can develop after certain types of work.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 seconds You can for instance become exposed to pesticides if you work in agriculture, and this can cause very serious intoxications. You can also become injured while using mechanical equipment like saws at work. At industrial work sites employees can become exposed to gases and fumes that may influence their health negatively, they can experience dangerous situations while working with technical equipment which may lead to accidents and injuries. This may cause different diseases and health problems. We will show you many examples of hazards and tell how diseases and injuries may result from exposure at work. We will describe the diseases and make you aware of the relationships between hazards at work and health among the workers.

Skip to 2 minutes and 5 seconds This course has been developed in a co-operation between skilled personnel in occupational health in Norway, Tanzania and Ethiopia. We are grateful for this co-operation, which makes it possible to show different situations in developing countries. Developing countries are in focus in this course. Industry is increasing in many low income countries, but awareness related to occupational health can be very low. This situation may cause major health problems among workers, and competence building is highly needed. - There is a fast growing construction and industrialization in Ethiopia, where most workers are exposed to different occupational risk factors. The health and well being of the workers should be considered high priority.

Skip to 3 minutes and 8 seconds We will also tell you that the risk related to exposure to hazards at work can be evaluated and considered. This is necessary in the work on preventing the unwanted side effects of certain work situations. If we are able to identify the hazards and evaluate the health risks related to these hazards, the risk can be reduced to acceptable levels. We will tell you about the process of risk assessment, and we will describe to you how a risk assessment at a work place is performed. We will also show you that the results from a risk assessment at a work place can be used to improve the working conditions and avoid diseases and injuries among the workers.

Skip to 4 minutes and 3 seconds We should ask the question: Are the existing control measures sufficient to protect the workers’ health or should new control measures be implemented to reduce the risk. We will also introduce important concepts like work place legislation and labor inspection and give definitions of occupational diseases and occupational injuries. Different countries have different legislation, but it is important to know the existing rules to be able to make changes at work. Compensation issues will also be described; that means how an injured worker may obtain economic compensation after a work place injury or disease has developed. In occupational health, these types of rights are important to know about, so the workers can be informed and treated correctly.

Skip to 5 minutes and 7 seconds To give this type of treatment or help to the worker is very useful, but we will underline that preventive work, to avoid health problems, is much more important. By prevention we can avoid and reduce a lot of health problems and suffering among workers. It is extremely important to understand the possibilities in preventive activity at the work sites. - We will educate you to understand that competence in occupational health can reduce health problems among workers. - We should not let our work places produce sick people; we need a healthy work force in every single country in the world.

Basic concepts

Welcome to this very first week of “Occupational Health in Developing Countries”

This week consists of four topics, each followed by discussion and a quiz.

Introduction to occupational health

After this first part, you will be able to understand the definition of occupational health and know the importance of this scientific area. You will know the difference between acute and chronic health effects, - know how large the problem on occupational health is globally, know some examples of risk factors and some examples on how the health risk can be reduced. You will also be informed about the importance of work environment legislation and about personnel and institutions who practice in the area.

Risk assessment

In this part you will learn more about risk assessment in occupational health, and how this could be done in the industry. The results of a risk assessment should help employers to choose which risk controls are most appropriate. We will therefore also discuss the principles of control measures to reduce the health risks at the workplace.

Occupational injuries

In this session we will focus on the overwhelmingly high numbers of workers injured at work. It is estimated that over 350 000 fatalities are caused by occupational accidents every year. Most of these work-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. In these countries the proportion of workers in risky jobs is also higher than in high-income countries. We will discuss the occurrence of occupational injuries, their cost, some particularly high-risk sectors, as well as preventive measures that should be taken.

Occupational diseases

In this session, we will tell you that many diseases develop at work places around the world due to factors and agents present at the work place. We call them “work related diseases”. We will discuss this expression and another concept with a slightly different meaning; occupational disease. When the session is completed, you will know that the definition of an occupational disease varies widely from country to country, - and that even laws and regulations concerning occupational diseases differ widely. Furthermore, you will know that only a small fraction of work-related diseases will give the sufferer or his/her family an economic compensation, and that the beneficial systems have both advantages and disadvantages.


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This video is from the free online course:

Occupational Health in Developing Countries

University of Bergen