Dr Wessel Neuhoff

The occupational health environment during this COVID-19 challenge is most certainly stressful and high risk for contracting the disease, according to Far East Rand and Mpumalanga occupational health practitioner, Dr Wessel Neuhoff.

“While I strictly adhere to contamination protection it still remains a concern,” he told Med Brief Africa this week, explaining that his practice involved several medium and large companies.

Many, he noted, were classified as essential services and remained in production.

“In the industry I have had to deal with lots of anxiety, not only from employees fearing to get ill, but also from management seriously concerned that they will have to close.

“I have had many meetings,” Neuhoff went on to explain, “advising management on screening employees, dealing with contamination, preventative and information programmes, sourcing PPE, social distancing in production plants, advising onsite nursing staff, dealing with challenging demands from worker organizations and developing strategies to reduce the impact of employees becoming positive with COVID-19.”

‘Injury on duty’

Discussing the need to travel to consult with these organisations, Neuhoff did mention that he had been stopped in many road blocks “and even had to educate the personnel on duty regarding the correct wearing of face masks and gloves!”

“Not all of them,” he added,” had had adequate training in PPE, which was surprising. Interestingly, one officer remarked that if he picked up COVID-19 while on duty and the positive contact was never traced, his illness would have to be classified as an ‘injury on duty’!”