The COID Act Amendment will include domestic compensation for injuries and diseases, said Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant. The state is setting up more health care facilities.
Speaking at the opening of Busamed Orphopaedic and Oncology centre at Modderfontein, Midrand, in November 2016, she criticised private health service providers who refuse to treat workers until they receive payment.
“In April I had the opportunity to take part in the opening of RMA Care Facility in Welkom, which caters only for clients of the Compensation Fund. This facility is yet another testimony that our occupational injuries and diseases practices rank among the best in the world.”
“There has been disturbing trends lately where some service providers have jumped the queue, and they are often the ones who stand at the front of the line.
“They use various methods, including holding injured workers at ransom by refusing to treat them until they get payment from the Compensation Fund.
“Some of the service providers even resort to Courts to force the Fund to pay their claims, even in cases where the validity of such claims are suspect and/or, are still under investigation.
The philosophy of the Labour Department Occupational Health and Safety Inspection, seeks to inculcate a culture of zero workplace injuries and diseases.
Therefore employers should have “zero” as their targets for workplace injuries and diseases, as anything more would be morally and ethically unacceptable.
“The other reality with occupational diseases is the length of time which may elapse before the medical condition occurs. This has been the case most notably with asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, which may take thirty to fifty years to develop after the workers were exposed to asbestos fibres.
“For example the asbestos related diseases in Germany take about 38 years before it showed up in the worker.
“The other challenge is that in some countries, workers are paid in lump sums as compensation and this often results in workers exhausting these monies far too quickly and the worker and/or family often return to government to seek additional assistance.
“On the other hand, there can also be problems where compensation is paid out in stages, if that compensation is not inflation-linked. The effect is that the living standard of the individual worker affected gradually declines and an accident or illness has left them unable to return to work.
“While social insurance largely avoids this problem by providing periodic payments, many of these schemes experience the erosion of the purchasing power of pensions by inflation.
“According to the recent ILO Study, only Mauritius provides automatic annual indexing of pensions for inflation.
“South Africa has consistently granted increases in line with the consumer price index over the last decade.
“A multifaceted and a holistic approach to compensation of occupational injuries and diseases legal framework must be pursued.
“Prevention before rehabilitation, and rehabilitation before compensation, should be the logical sequence of interventions in the normal scheme of things, but we know though that in real life mistakes, accidents, oversights and injuries can happen and workers do become ill even in the safest workplaces.
COID Act Amendment
“We need to keep fine-tuning the law so that it is always equal to the challenges that workers face on a daily basis. To this end we have commenced the Compensation of Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act Amendment, to bring it in line with case law and some elements of international best practice.
“The amendments under consideration seek to broaden the scope of coverage to include domestic workers; and introduce a patient-centred approach in the delivery of health services by aggressively reducing the time patients have to wait to receive services and medication.
“The patient-centred approach is a direct response to addressing the medical establishments jumping the queue and in a process, relegating the real beneficiaries of the Fund; that is workers, to second class citizens.
“This cannot be correct, as Compensation is the worker’s own, and in most cases the only medical aid in the event of occupational injuries.
“BUSAMED [not related to Business Unity SA] is one of the designated service providers for Compensation Fund, indicates a deeper understanding of our vision and mission as government and the Department of Labour.
“BUSAMED facility resonates with the broad principles guiding the government’s vision on the National Health Insurance policy construct. I am particularly pleased by the number of specialists in different disciplines, across all 15 medical services that are synonymous with occupational injuries.
Congratulations to the Leadership and stuff of BUSAMED, Compensation Fund Leadership, and the Department of Labour; you have indeed raised the bar in the provision of care for workers.
“It will be great to see more facilities of this nature in other provinces.”
The Supported Employment Enterprises, previously known as Sheltered Employment Factories, will soon be moving into the manufacturing of assistive devices.
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