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Work injuries are a risk for employers and their staff

Businesses are legally required to register with the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.

There are around 340 million occupational accidents and 160 million victims of work-related illnesses annually around the world.

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These statistics from the International Labour Organisation paint a very real picture of the challenges facing businesses and governments.

Work-related injuries often require medical treatment and this causes employees to miss days of work or limit their work activities.

Absenteeism affects productivity and operating costs, which can be extremely costly for businesses, and there are possible financial and legal implications if negligence is proven.

In addition, the injured employee and their family face emotional and financial hardships, while colleagues left behind feel the stress of covering the extra workload in their absence.

“Even with the right preventative measures in place, you can’t stop an accident from happening but how you prepare for these eventualities and how you respond to them can make a huge difference in the outcome for your business and your employees,” said Rikus Scheepers, managing director at Accisure.

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With private medical care, workers aren’t left to fend for themselves, they can recover faster, reducing absenteeism and lessening the impact on productivity.

In South Africa, however, 73% of the population does not have access to private medical aid, and so the government instituted a law requiring businesses to protect themselves and their employees against any injuries, diseases or the death of an employee while on company time.

Businesses are legally required to register with the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COID), which is more commonly known as Workmen’s Compensation.

“If your business employs one or more workers, you should know about this statutory insurance, but even though companies are required to be registered with the Compensation Fund, they may not be compliant which means that none of their employees are covered if an accident occurs,” said Scheepers.

When a business is non-compliant they cannot claim from the Compensation Fund for the medical costs paid for an injured employee. In addition to the financial risk, a business owner may also be prevented from applying for funding, contracts or tenders without a Letter of Good Standing from the Compensation Fund.

There are numerous reasons for non-compliance.

It could be that the business failed to pay their annual assessment fee or that they haven’t correctly registered their employees.

It’s challenging for business owners to keep registers updated, especially in industries like construction, mining and retail that have high staff turnovers.

“We see many South African businesses that do the responsible thing by immediately registering their new employees with COID but then a small admin oversight results in non-compliance.

“The impact of this is that the business won’t be able to claim from the Compensation Fund and their injured employees aren’t covered,” said Scheepers.

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“Employees expect their employers to take care of them when they get injured or contract an occupational disease as a result of the work they do.

“Non-compliance threatens the ability of employers to do just that.

“It’s essential that businesses be up to date and correctly registered, so that the company is protected from financial and legal challenges, while employees are guaranteed the medical care they deserve should they be injured,” Scheepers concluded.


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