Welcome Messages

A message from the current Chair of the ICOH Scientific Committee, History of Prevention of Occupational and Environmental Diseases, Paul Blanc

As incoming Chair of the International Commission on Occupational Heath (ICOH) standing scientific committee on the History of Prevention of Occupational and Environmental Diseases, I am exceedingly pleased to promote our upcoming international conference. I look forward to Durban in May 2020 for rewarding scientific experience for all those interested in the history of occupational and environmental disease.

The conference promises to provide an opportunity to engage with scholars from broad range of disciplines and explore the stories of workers’ health globally.


Paul Blanc MD MSPH
Professor of Medicine and Endowed Chair in Occupational Medicine
University of California San Francisco, USA 

A message from the immediate past Secretary General of the ICOH Scientific Committee, History of Prevention of Occupational and Environmental Diseases, Prof Alfredo Menendez-Navarro:

Alfredo Menéndez-Navarro

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It is a great pleasure and an honour to extend to you a warm invitation to attend the 7th International Conference on the History of Occupational and Environmental Health to be held May 27 – 29 2020 in Durban, South Africa.

The Conference is jointly organised by the ICOH Scientific Committee on ‘History of Prevention of Occupational and Environmental Diseases’ and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The theme of the 2020 Conference “Occupational and Environmental Health: At the Crossroads of Migrations, Empires and Social Movements”  will underpin the central role of migrations for understanding the history of workers’ health. In so doing, the Conference will provide a unique opportunity to bring together research from historians and occupational health professionals dealing with a defining feature of global health in both the past and present.

Last but by no means least, our host city Durban – cosmopolitan, multicultural and friendly – will provide yet further reasons for joining us. I look forward to welcoming you all to what promises to be an outstanding and fruitful scientific and social forum.  Alfredo Menéndez-NavarroSecretary of ICOH SC on History of Prevention of Occupational and Environmental Diseases


To learn more about the Scientific Committee, go to the official website


A message from the Chair of the 2020 Conference Scientific and Organising Committee, Prof Rajen Naidoo

Professor Rajen Naidoo

By 2020 it will have been 90 years since the historic the 1930 “Johannesburg Conference” on Silicosis, convened by the International Labour Organisation. It was no coincidence that South Africa was chosen as the venue for that meeting. Few countries globally had started to address critical issues affecting the health of workers. By the turn of the last century, South Africa’s mines saw migrations of people to our shores on an unprecedented scale. This migration was to not only shape workers’ health in Southern Africa, but also our politics.

Today, we extend a warm invitation to all our colleagues whose focus it is to prevent ill-health of workers and communities, whose mission it is to document their stories and who believe that understanding our history allows us to shape our future. Whether you are a social scientist, historian or health professional, we look forward to welcoming you to Durban in 2020. Your presence will allow us to have meaningful discussions and interesting debates about key issues facing a changing world and the changing world of work.

We have carefully selected our theme to not only reflect the political development of South Africa, but how migration, empires and social movements interact in shaping the health of workers and the communities in which they live. We believe that many will see the value of presenting their work at this meeting, and we look forward to sharing your thoughts.

But while we may get caught up in the lively discussion and debates, let’s not forget that Durban represents a major tourist hub, so either before or after the conference, enjoy its surrounds…..whether you are a hiker in high mountains, surfer on Blue Flag beaches, birdwatcher or big game lover, you are able to access all of these within short drives from Durban.

We look forward to seeing you in our friendly city in May 2020!

Rajen Naidoo

Chair: Scientific and Organising Committee