It is an unfortunate reality that despite of the best efforts of an employer enjoying the full cooperation of employees, accidents can and do happen leading to an occupational injury. Unfortunately, there are many who believe that their responsibility to the employee ends with compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). However, being compliant with the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) 130 of 1993 is also required, and it starts with knowing the terms of the Act.
Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases (COID) is a government body that compensates workers who have been injured at work or who have contracted a disease at work. One can think of it as a large insurance policy. Employers pay a set tariff (similar to a premium on and insurance policy) and it “activates” when an employee suffer an injury at work or become ill related to their work, safeguarding employees when they are injured or ill and making sure that businesses support their compensation by paying tariffs to COID.
COIDA is the Act that sets out the legal requirements for the tariffs, compensation, and limitations for claims for occupational injury or disease by employees:
“The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, No 130 of 1993 (COIDA) provides for compensation for disablement caused by occupational injuries or diseases sustained or contracted by employees in the course of their employment, or for death resulting from such injuries or diseases.”
According to the Act, employees who suffer an occupationally related injury or disease, have the right to:
- full, free medical attention and transport to a hospital
- compensation for loss of income due to a workplace injury or disease (temporary disability)
- compensation for the permanent loss of normal bodily function related to a workplace injury or disease (permanent disability)
- benefits payable to family in the case of the death of a worker related to a workplace injury or disease
- increase compensation if the cause of the workplace injury or disease arose out of negligence by the employer or fellow employee
- compensation if the workplace injury or disease was caused by a third party but arose during the normal course of duties of the employee
The role and responsibilities of the Employer is clearly stipulated in COIDA. These include the compliance standards that employers must meet regarding the handling of workplace injuries or diseases. Employers must play a primary role in the handling of any incident, starting with the occurrence up until the claim/s are paid and the employee recovers.
When an incident does occur, an investigation must be launched to determine the root cause of the incident. Employers are required to:
- close off the scene of the incident to allow smooth response by emergency professionals and to prevent distortion of the evidence
- ensure that a trained first aid officer takes proper care of the injured person
- ensure that the investigation starts immediately after the incident
- identify potential sources of information, including the injured person, witnesses, and any other physical evidence
The incident must be reported when an employee is injured in relation to their employment which results in a personal injury for which medical treatment is required. An official form – the W.Cl 2 Form – Notice of Accident and Claim for Compensation must be completed. It is the employer’s duty to submit the W.Cl 2 form to the Compensation Commissioner within 7 days of the incident.