The development of an occupational diseases database

This research report addresses a need for a centralised database to record the occurrence of occupational diseases in the South African mining industry, together with the morbidity and mortality of such diseases. The database will be used by the Director: Occupational Medicine of the Department of Minerals and Energy, for research purposes.  This research will help to identify and classify problem areas in occupational disease management, so that appropriate preventative measures can be investigated.
The occupational diseases database has been designed, together with the programs required to use it, and the layout of suitable data-entry forms for the use of the mining industry in submitting details of disease occurrences. A data format has also been documented for transferring data electronically from those mines that have data-capture software for diseases.
The design was based on discussions with representatives of Employers, Labour and Government.
Programming and testing of the database system was performed by the IT Section of the Department of Minerals and Energy, with quality control by the Research Agency.  At present, it is not possible to analyse any correlation between diseases and causative factors. It is therefore recommended that a project be initiated to design and implement an occupational hygiene database system for this purpose. This should lead to the improvement of the occupational hygienic condition of working environments found in the mining industry, thus reducing the incidence and severity of occupational illnesses.
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