General notes on records
The Occupational Health and Safety Act No. 85 of 1993, the NIHL Regulations (307 of March 2003) and the Mine Health and Safety Act No 29 of 1996 prescribe that the following records should be kept for a period of 40 years5,6:
Risk assessments and monitoring records for visual hazards and illumination measurements.
Medical surveillance records.
All training records regarding ocular hazards and exposure
All reports about referrals to specialists, and
Submissions to the compensation commissioner and various inspectorates (DEL and DMRE).
Where an employer permanently ceases operations all the records should be delivered to either the Medical Inspector in the case of a mine or the relevant Provincial Director of the Department of Labour.
If the company closes down, the records should be sent to the relevant provincial director (department of Labour) or medical inspector (Department of Mineral Resources).
Notification of Injuries or Diseases of the Eye to the Compensation Commissioner
The Compensation Fund provides compensation for workers who get hurt at work, sick from diseases contracted at work, or for death as a result of these injuries or diseases. Employers pay into the Compensation Fund once a month. Workers do not pay anything to the Fund. The Compensation Commissioner is appointed to administer the Fund and approves claims of workers. The worker gets compensation from this Fund and not directly from the employer. This means that the employer does not have to worry about expensive law claims.
A worker can claim if injured in an accident that happens while at work ‘in the course and scope of duty.
A worker can claim if they get a disease caused by work (an occupational disease).
A worker’s dependents can claim if the worker dies from an accident or disease.
No payment is made for claims which are made more than 12 months after the accident or death, or more than 12 months after the disease is diagnosed.
If a worker is off work for 3 days or less, this is not covered by the Compensation Fund. It may be covered by the worker’s medical aid or sick fund.
No payment is made if the worker’s own misconduct caused the accident unless the worker was seriously disabled or died from the accident.
There may be no payment if the worker unreasonably refuses to have medical treatment, for as long as the worker refuses.
Injuries covered by the Compensation Act are only those that occur as a result of or at work. Compensation is paid for temporary and permanent disabilities that lead to a loss of earnings.
Occupational diseases are illnesses caused by substances or conditions that the worker was exposed to at the workplace. Schedule 3 of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act sets out the working conditions and diseases caused by these conditions that are covered by the Compensation Fund. A worker can claim compensation if exposed to these working conditions and then get the related disease. It may take some time for the disease to become obvious therefore some of the criteria mentioned above do not apply to diseases. Workers can claim compensation if they are no longer at a workplace. The Commissioner will approve or reject the claim. Only if the Commissioner approves the claim, will the worker get compensation (for temporary or permanent disability) and medical expenses will be paid. If the disease gets worse after a period of time, the worker can apply to have the compensation increased.
Compensation is paid for getting injured at work or for diseases caused by work. There are four main types of compensation payments3. These are:
For temporary disability (the worker eventually recovers from the injury or illness).
For permanent disability (the worker never fully recovers).
For medical expenses.
Compensation is always worked out as a percentage of the wage the worker was earning at the time the disease or injury is diagnosed. If the worker is unemployed by the time a disease is diagnosed the wage, they would have been earning would be calculated3. The Compensation Fund does not pay for pain and suffering, only for the loss of movement or use of your body.
Temporary disability means the worker does eventually get better3.
The worker must be put off work by a doctor.
If the worker is off work for 3 days or less, no compensation will be paid.
If the worker is off for more than 3 days, the worker gets compensation which also covers the first 3 days.
Temporary disability can be total or partial3:
Total means the worker is unable to work for a while. The worker will get ¾ (75%) of the normal monthly wage as compensation and a formula is used.
Partial means the worker can go to work, but on light duty for fewer hours. If the worker earns less doing the lighter work, the worker will get ¾ of the difference between the normal and reduced monthly wage.
A permanent disability can completely prevent a worker from working, or it can just inconvenience a worker3.
The most serious is called 100% disability, and the least serious is called 1% disability.
A doctor must write a medical report about the disability.
The Commissioner, with the help of a panel of doctors, works out the degree of disability.
The degrees of disability are set out in Schedule 2 of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act. Some examples:
- The worker must inform the employer, supervisor or foreman of the accident, injury, or disease verbally or in writing.
- The employer must report the accident or disease to the Compensation Commission within 7 days for an injury and within 14 days after gaining knowledge of an alleged occupational disease. The employer must report it, even if they do not believe the injury or disease is work-related. If the worker is unemployed by the time a disease is diagnosed, the worker can send forms directly to the Commissioner.
- Part of the form must be given to a doctor to complete, to check that the injury or disease falls under the Compensation Fund.
- The doctor must send a First Medical Report (W.CL.4) detailing the disease or seriousness of the injury, and the likely period the worker will be off work. This must be done within 14 days of seeing the worker.
- The employer must send the First Medical Report to the Commissioner.
- If the employer refuses to complete and send the form, the worker or a representative may send a form directly to the Commissioner. If it was an accident, it is also useful to get a sworn statement from any witnesses. The Commissioner will instruct the employer to file in the right form.
- The worker or his/her representative should keep copies of the employer’s report, and records of all evidence, witnesses and all notices sent to the Commissioner.
- The doctor must also send Progress Medical Reports (W.CL.5) monthly while treatment is carried on. If the worker’s condition has not improved after 24 months, the Commissioner may decide that the condition is permanent and grant compensation for permanent disability.
- If the worker thinks that their condition is worse than the doctor is saying, you can go to another doctor and get a second opinion, but you will have to pay for this doctor’s visit yourself. The Commissioner will decide whether the case should be re-opened.
- The doctor must send in a Final Medical Report, stating either that the worker is fit to return to work or that the worker is permanently disabled.
- The doctor submits this form to the employer, who sends it to the Commissioner. Anyone else can send the medical reports to the Commissioner, as long as the claim number is on the form.
- The employer sends in a Resumption Report (W.CL.6) to the Commissioner when the worker starts work again or is discharged from the hospital. The employer also fills in this form to claim back the compensation money the employer paid to the worker during the first 3 months he or she was off work.
- A worker may not be victimised for any information given to the Commissioner. The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act protects employees from victimisation.
Claims are submitted to the Compensation Commissioner or to the Mutual Association as applicable. A new online submission service is available. Use the applicable one for OHS Act and MHS Act. Forms that must be included in the submission can be found online at www.gov.co.za3