Workplace injuries and diseases

Compensation for workplace injuries and diseases

Juliet Kekana 2.jpg

The Department of Labour passed a law that caters for all Occupational Injuries and Diseases that employees may encounter in their course of duty. The law was called the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, No. 130 of 1993. Many a times, people still confuse issues when it comes to who the act applies to. There is this norm that small companies are excluded or excused from complying with the Act because they can’t afford it. This is totally incorrect and will lead to most being held liable for any non-compliance as far as the Act is concerned.

As Corporates outsource some of their services to contractors to do work on their behalf, they are challenged with the task of empowering smaller companies, a lot of compliance issues are encountered in these set-ups. In that case, the client has the legal responsibility to ensure that the contractor complies with COID and has valid Letter of Goodstanding from the Commissioner that confirms their compliance status. The Letter of Good standing is also known as Section 89 Certificate.

WHO DOES THE ACT APPLY TO?

All employers; and casual and full-time workers (including seaman and airman) who, as a result of a workplace accident or work-related disease are injured, disabled, or killed, or become ill.

WHO MAY CLAIM COMPENSATION?

  • Employees
  • Their dependants (In the event of death)
  • Casual employees

Traditionally, certain groups were excluded from claiming compensation from the Compensation Commissioner. Such groups are:

  • Workers who are totally or partially disabled for less than 3 days,
  • Domestic workers,
  • Anyone receiving military training,
  • Members of the SANDF, or SAPS,
  • Any worker guilty of wilful misconduct, unless they are seriously disabled or killed,
  • Anyone employed outside South Africa for 12 or more continuous months, and
  • Workers employed mainly outside South Africa and only temporarily employed here.

In a recent Court Case in Pretoria it was ruled that domestic workers are now be eligible to claim from the Compensation fund if they were injured, contracted a disease at their place of work. Even though domestic workers were historically excluded from claiming compensation from the Commissioner, it has now been ruled by High Court (South Africa) that domestic workers can now claim compensation following a workplace injury or disease  in an article written by ENCA “ Domestic workers now eligible for injury compensation” - Friday 31 May 2019 - 8:39am. This follows a fatal incident that happened in 2012, where an employee drowned in her employer’s swimming pool. It was reported that the family of the deceased approached the Department of Labour for compensation but was turned away as the COID Act didn’t include Domestic workers as beneficiaries at the time. The matter was brought before the Hight Court. The case was found to be unconstitutional and the court ruled in favour of the family. 

TYPES OF COMPENSATION THAT EMPLOYEES MAY CLAIM ARE AS FOLLOWS:

  • Medical Costs
  • Temporary disability
  • Permanent disability
  • Death benefits

Compensation is paid based on employee’s earnings and in order to remain compliant with that requirement, all employers need to submit annual Return of Earnings (ROE) to the Commissioner so that their annual contribution can be accurately calculated.  A certain percentage of that amount is what is due to the Commissioner for the year. It should be noted that employers with high injury rate will pay a higher tariff compared to the other employer who keeps their injuries under control. Compliance with all applicable legislation applies to all employers, whether big or small. The manner of application might vary from company to company due to the size of their workforce and their scope of activities. It is important that all employers always keep abreast of applicable laws and legal changes as they happen in order to avoid non-compliance and unnecessary liabilities. 

For more information on Workplace compensation (COID Act) training and implementation, safety services, visit our website www.denovohse.co.za

Written by Juliet Kekana – Managing Director – De-novo HSE Training and Consulting

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