Iron and steel compensation insurance could privatise to the mining injuries and diseases fund, Rand Mutual Assurance. The DOL is calling for comment.
The handover of the steel compensation insurance of 46 000 employers from the Compensation Fund (CF) to RMA is “part of a turnaround strategy for the Compensation Commissioner to improve service delivery”.
The Compensation Commissioner (CC) will be “alleviated” but would remain responsible for “overseeing the compliance of the licensee with all the requirements of the COID Act”. The Iron and Steel sector is the largest subclass in the Compensation Fund portfolio.
The intended handover of steel compensation to Rand Mutual Assurance (RMA) follows “new technology they have introduced over the past few years, that would enable them to concentrate on other areas of service such as rebates, which have taken a back seat for a number of years,” said DOL.
The SA Society of Occupational Medicine, SASOM, last year hosted a meeting titled “Workman’s compensation in crisis… to look for possible solutions”.
The doctors concluded that compensation in its current form was “not working… many medical service providers, who are the gate-keepers for workers to access the system… refuse to use it as it is designed to be used.
“General practitioners, specialists, hospitals, pharmacists and various medical professionals refuse to treat patients who are injured on duty, or who may have an occupational disease, due to non-payment for services.
“They have given up the fight against the system and refuse to have anything to do with injured or sick workers… Some doctors will treat the worker, provided that he or she, or the employer, pays cash up-front.
“The worker is then responsible for claiming the money back from the Compensation Commissioner or the employer. Some doctors will treat the worker for cash, but refuse to complete any compensation documentation.
“Some doctors ignore the occupational aspect and charge the medical aid, if possible. Some compromise and charge the patient cash, complete the required forms, hand them to the patient, and wish them luck with claiming money back from the CC.”
The CEO of the Hospital Association of South Africa (HASA) said they “shared the frustrations of the provider community. Seven out of 16 hospitals surveyed in the Tshwane district would not accept patients who needed treatment for injuries on duty,” reported Occupational Health Southern Africa.
Rand Mutual Assurance is well established in the management of claims for occupational injuries and diseases in the mining industry since 1894. RMA finalises claims for total temporary disablement or permanent disability within 3 to 6 weeks, depending on severity of the injury.
Construction compensation for injuries and diseases has long been allocated to FEM. The iron and steel move follows widespread cutbacks in mining production, partly a delayed response to the financial crisis and economic slump.
Administration agent Makrosafe Holdings said RMA already offers the same benefits as stipulated by the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Disease Act (COID Act).
RMA said discounts for Makrosafe Holdings clients would be calculated annually, and claim numbers would be issued immediately. RMA has a “close relationship with Makrosafe”.
The state’s intentions have been gazetted. The Department of Labour called for comments, views and opinions on the intended steel compensation handover, in writing to the Compensation Fund at firstname.lastname@example.org before 31 July 2014.
* Sources; Makrosafe. Occupational Health Southern Africa. RMA.
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