Rethinking the Paradigm and Practice of Occupational Health in a World Without Decent Work: A Perspective From East and Southern Africa

New Solut. 2021 Aug;31(2):107-112. doi: 10.1177/10482911211017106. Epub 2021 May 17.


The global political economy is generating new forms and growing shares of informal, insecure, and precarious labor, adding to histories of insecure work and an externalization of social costs. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the consequences of ignoring such signals in terms of the increased risk and vulnerability of insecure labor. This paper explores how such trends are generating intersecting adverse health outcomes for workers, communities, and environments and the implications for breaking siloes and building links between the paradigms, science, practice, and tools for occupational health, public health, and eco-health. Applying the principle of controlling hazards at the source is argued in this context to call for an understanding of the upstream production and socio-political factors that are jointly affecting the nature of work and employment and their impact on the health of workers, the public, and the planet.

Keywords: COVID-19; commercial determinants of health; decent work; eco-health; occupational health; precarious employment; public health.