About us

The OTOH Interest Group

Occupational Therapy in Occupational Health (OTOH) is a special interest group formed on 19 April 2013 under the auspices of the Occupational Therapy Association of South Africa (OTASA).

Our mission statement:

To foster and promote occupational therapy in the field of occupational health in South Africa.

This encompasses the role of occupational therapy in illness and/or injury prevention and management in the workplace. The focus is therefore on assisting employers in various sectors with issues related to ill health and injuries, not solely on vocational assessment or rehabilitation.

OTOH endeavours to become a platform for sharing experiences, facilitating training and providing support for occupational therapists who are working with employers, or are interested in doing so. It will serve to facilitate interdisciplinary contact with other health care professionals working in the field of occupational health. In addition, it will be a platform for building awareness amongst employers and the public.

Our objectives:

OTOH’s approach has been moulded around three stakeholders in this field, namely: Occupational Therapists, Employers and other Occupational Health Practitioners.

•  Promoting the unique contribution of occupational therapy to occupational health through marketing to relevant role players.

•  Defining the scope of practice of occupational therapy in the field of occupational health.

•  Providing opportunities for occupational therapists to develop their skills through workshops.

•  Developing guidelines for occupational therapists working in this field.

•  Facilitating growth of occupational therapy in occupational health at undergraduate level.

•  Building awareness with employers to promote the role of occupational therapy in the workplace.

•  Liaising with human resource managers, line managers and trade unions regarding the role of occupational therapy in the workplace.

•  Promote the role of occupational therapy in Employee Assistance Programs.

•  Providing opportunities for relevant role players to exchange ideas and allow for knowledge sharing across disciplines.

•  Liaising with occupational medical practitioners and occupational health nurses.

Meet the OTOH committee:

Elana Human


Elana Human graduated from the University of the Free State and has been working in private practice for 20 years with the focus on medico legal work and vocational rehabilitation. Having worked in various settings such as private hospitals, a disability management company and teaching at university, she remains passionate about the unique role of the occupational therapist in the workplace.

Herculene Van Staden


Herculene van Staden completed her Master’s in Occupational Therapy (Vocational Rehabilitation) in 2010. Her research as part of the Master’s focused on Return-To-Work after Lumbar Surgery and an article was published in December 2011 edition of the South African Journal of Occupational Therapy with the topic: “Return-to-Work (RTW) of Patients after Lumbar Surgery”. (SAJOT, 2011. Vol 41, No 3, p 70-78.) She is ErgoScience and CAMAG trained. She is the co-director of Work Rehab – an interdisciplinary rehabilitation centre for people who sustained injuries on duty.

Karen Theunissen

Academic Liaison

Karen Theunissen has consulted with a number of employers with regards to absenteeism, incapacity and disability matters for the past ten years. She has a special interest and passion linked to managing psychiatric conditions, pain and fatigue in the workplace. She completed her Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy focusing on the development of a multidisciplinary tool to assess malingering. As such, she is involved in consultancy and training linked to assessing poor work performance.

Tessie Briel


Tessie Briel graduated with Bachelor of Occupational Therapy degree at the (UFS), obtained a Post Graduate Diploma in Vocational Rehabilitation (UP) and now practices at 2 Military Hospital, Wynberg. She holds the rank of Major and has had the opportunity to do a work-visit on board a submarine diving 400m deep. She performs assessments to determine the qualification for medical boards according to the South African Military Health Services (SAMHS) classification system of military members and assist them with re-integration into the workplace.

Donné Nel


Donné Nel is an Occupational Therapist who graduated from the University of Cape Town in 2008. She completed her Community Service in a rural area of the Eastern Cape, and then worked in the United Kingdom in physical rehabilitation for almost three years. She returned to South Africa in 2012 where she discovered a passion for vocational rehabilitation and return to work intervention. She has developed a particular interest in spinal conditions, amputations and upper limb disorders.

Tarryn Pieterse


Tarryn Pieterse is an occupational therapist who graduated from the University of the Western Cape in 2009. She has worked in various fields of occupational therapy including physical and mental health and is currently in the field of work practice in the public sector. She is a qualified Lymphoedema therapist and has a keen interest in reintegrating persons with impairments back into the workplace.



In order to facilitate professional development and improve communication and synergy between various role-players in occupational health, the interest group “Occupational Therapy in Occupational Health” (OTOH) was formed. Occupational Therapy in Occupational Health (OTOH) is a special interest group formed on 19 April 2013 under the auspices of the Occupational Therapy Association of South Africa (OTASA).

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