Everything about Injuries on Duty

Everything you need to know about Injuries on Duty - IOD, the Compensation Fund, Incident Reporting Procedure and Incident Investigation Training.

The COID Act
COID Act, Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Act, No 61 of 1997 govern issues related to injuries on duty and occupational diseases. This Act entails the reporting, investigation recording, claiming and all procedures and documentation that needs to be submitted before payment is made. Many may think that their responsibility for employees and achieving compliance ends with abiding with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993. Being compliant with requirements of the COID Act is also very important, but it all starts with knowing the terms of the Act first.

Section 14 of the Act describes the General duties of employees at work. The first responsibility that is pointed out (Section 14.1) is that every employee shall at work ‘take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions. In addition, section 14.4 states that ‘employees shall report any unsafe or unhealthy situation as soon as practicable to the employer or a health and safety representative, who shall then report it to the employer’ while section 14.5 adds that ‘reporting any incident which may affect his health or has caused an injury to himself, to his employer or the health and safety representative not later than the end of the particular shift during which the incident occurred’. If reporting the incident is not possible by the end of the shift, the employee shall then report the incident as soon as practicable thereafter within a maximum of seven days. The above leaves no space for interpretation.

As soon as an incident has occurred authorities, or anybody else involved, will ask the following obvious questions to get closer to the root cause of the incident:
What happened?
Who was involved or responsible?
Where were they at the time of the incident?
When exactly did the incident happen?
Why did it happen?
How did it happen?

If it is established that a person had any prior knowledge related to the incident, this person will certainly have a case to answer to. Answer in such a case can be a challenge as the South African Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 considers a person to be guilty until proven innocent. Claiming innocence is not enough according to the act. Section 14.2 of the Act states that ‘every employee shall at work cooperate with the employer and other persons to enable them to carry out any duty imposed on the by the Act’. They also have to (Section 14.3) ‘carry out any lawful order given to him, and obey all health and safety rules and procedures laid down by this employer or anyone authorized by this employer, in the interest of health and safety’.

When inspecting premises our Health and Safety Practitioners not only focus on listing possible matters that soon can attribute to an incident; they also ensure that staff is aware of the imminent danger. More importantly; they will also establish why no action has been taken yet. Reducing injuries on duty and ensuring a safe and healthy workplace is not only a responsibility of those tasked with ensuring it, it also requires the combined efforts of those tasked with performing the required productive actions at work.

MAKROSAFE has been assisting clients with their Incident and Accident Investigations for more than 23 years.

The Incident/ accident Investigation
Incident Investigation Procedure is a set of systematic steps to follow when conducting an investigation. After the occurrence of any incident or near miss in the workplace, employers should ensure that such an occurrence is immediately investigated. This is to ensure that employers keep up with their health and safety compliance duties stipulated in the Act to provide a safe and healthy working environment.. However, the re-occurrence of incidents can only be stopped if the right investigation procedure is followed. The investigation will determine the cause, effect and establish how re-occurrence of an incident can be prevented in the future.

For a successful incident investigation procedure to be carried out, the contribution of all in the workplace is essential. Employees, managers and supervisors need to be trained so as to enable them to meet compliance standards when performing their roles and responsibilities during an incident investigation, stipulated in the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Act, No 61 of 1997.

Employees are obliged by the act to meet these compliance standards by participating in an incident investigation.
(i) they have a duty to report an incident as soon as it occurs to relevant authorities
(ii) they have a duty to ensure they do not tamper with an incident scene in any way; touch, move take anything away from an accident scene as this can jeopardize an investigation
(iii) they should not try to move an injured person unless the presence of that person could further threaten their life

Managers/Supervisors are required to perform the below duties and many more, according to the COID Act:
(i) seal off the scene to prevent the distortion of evidence and to allow smooth response by emergency professionals
(ii) ensure that first aider take proper care of the injured person
(iii) ensure that the investigation starts immediately after accident occurrence
(iv) identify potential sources of information e.g. injured person, witnesses any other physical evidence

MAKROSAFE has been assisting clients for more than 23 years with Incident and Accident Investigation.
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Accident incident Reporting Procedure
The correct Incident Reporting Procedure has to be followed when an incident of any near miss, minor or fatal incident has occurred. It is also important that you know exactly who to report an incident to. All this is stipulated in the COID Act that governs compensation for occupational injuries and diseases.
The big question is who has the duty of reporting an incident or accident according to the COID Act?
Incident reporting procedure has many steps hence; many parties are involved in incident reporting

All members of staff
Employees are the most vulnerable, to incidents, of all parties in the workplace. It is likely that incidents will happen at their workstations. According to the Compensation of Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COID), employees are required by law to report all near misses and incidents to their supervisor, health and safety representative or any authority managing them. Employees must comply with the Act which states that incidents must be reported as soon as possible. The correct Incident Reporting Procedure stated in the Act says, all incidents must be reported before the end of the working shift of the particular day the incident occurred.

Supervisors / Health and Safety Representative
In the Incident Reporting Procedure, to meet compliance, the employees’ superiors (Health and Safety Representatives / supervisors) must fill in an Incident Report Form detailing the incident as per the report provided by the employee/s. The superior is responsible for reporting about such incident to the employer. He must also hand the filled incident report form to the employer.

The Employers responsibilities
The Employers’ responsibilities and roles are clearly stipulated in the Act that governs compensation for injuries and disease, the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Act, No 61 of 1997 (COID Act). There are compliance standards stated in this Act that employers must meet regarding the handling of occupational diseases and injuries on duty matters. Employers must play a major role starting from the occurrence of the incident up until claims are paid and the employee recovers. It is important for employers to know their duties so that they are not incriminated for negligence.

While Employers’ responsibilities are major in the whole process, they also rely on the co-operation of their employees. Employees should provide employers with information about the incident/disease. The supervisor/health and safety representative must submit an incident report form to their employers detailing the whole incident and it is the Employers’ responsibility to take it up from there.

According to the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Act, No 61 of 1997, employers are obliged to perform the following responsibilities.
The employer must make transport available immediately to take an injured employee to a doctor or hospital. The Compensation Fund pays these costs.
Written or verbal notice of an injury on duty should be given to the employer before the completion of the shift, where possible.
It is also the Employers’ responsibilities to 'go ahead' and authorize an internal investigation to be carried out by his health and safety committee or representative.
It is the Employers’ responsibilities to report all severe accidents that result in severe injuries, death, or injuries that may lead to death or disablement to the Department of Employment and Labour.
The employer must comply with the stipulations that such incidents must be reported within seven days. Non-compliance to this term may result in the employer being fined. (Section 24 COID Act).
It is also the Employers’ responsibilities to submit a claim for compensation to the relevant authority on the prescribed form. The compensation claim must be accompanied by all relevant documents that the Compensation authority may need to be able to process a claim.

Employers’ responsibilities
The injured employee must, on request of the Compensation Commissioner, undergo a medical examination. Employers should ensure all injured employees are given medical attention. The medical certificate is required by the compensation authority. The Compensation Commissioner or other party requiring a medical examination shall be liable for the cost of such examination.
An employer must ensure that any medical reports or other documentation and a certified copy of the employee's identity document are also forwarded to the Compensation Authority.
Employers are also required to meet the compliance standard that states that it is their responsibility to make up payment of 75% of the wages or salary of the injured employee for the first three months after the injury on duty. The amount is refundable by the Compensation Commissioner.

It is the Employers’ responsibilities to pay injured employees in the form of periodical payments not exceeding one month apart. Thereafter payment by the relevant authority (Compensation Commissioner or Mutual Association) continues for as long as the disablement continues, however, not exceeding 24 months.
If there is a recurrence of the injury which prevents the employee from performing their duties and medical treatment is necessitated by the deterioration, the case may be reopened, with permission of the Compensation Commissioner, and may continue in terms of the original injury.

Once an incident has been reported, the supervisor or health and safety representative must submit an incident report form to the employer. This form must detail the whole incident. From there it becomes the responsibility of the employer to follow up the matter with the relevant authorities.

With most employers their wide scope of responsibilities are, when an unfortunate incident occurs. This is considered as negligence and non-compliance by the law and employers may find themselves on the wrong side of the law, unknowingly. Don't stay there with pressing issues in health and safety and legal standards constituting it. Become compliant and be on the safe side of the law.

The Employee
Apart from the fear of not being able to be mobile and flexible again once one has been involved in an incident, most employees fear the thought of never being able to generate an income again. However, when an accident or an illness can be linked to the working conditions, employees have the right to claim compensation from the Compensation Fund.

Almost every South African employer is compelled to pay a monthly contribution to the Compensation Fund. An employee, or their next of kin, can claim from this fund when:

They were injured or contracted a disease while working, training or completing an apprenticeship,
They lost a family member who died on the job

This applies to both permanent and casual employees and includes those who are an apprentice or trainee as well as workers paid by a labour agency. However, for outsourced employees or employees who have been working for more than 12 months abroad at a time, when the injury happened or disease was contracted, Workman's Compensation will not pay out.
In their drive to satisfy their customers, many employers forget these consequences. They also underestimate the paperwork that needs to be submitted when an employee gets injured or falls ill. The problem is that claims will only be paid if they are submitted in the correct way and on time.

As a general rule of thumb, claims will not be paid if:
12 months have passed since the accident or death, or after the disease is diagnosed
The employee is off work for three days or less
The employee refused to have medical treatment
The accident can be attributed to the employee's wrongdoing

In case of the latter, only when the employee is seriously disabled or dies in the accident, the fund is likely to still pay compensation. The Compensation Fund covers occupational diseases and workplace injuries. Schedule 3 of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (130/1993) describes the working conditions and diseases caused by these conditions that are covered by the Compensation Fund.

To be able to claim for other diseases one has to prove, by means of medical evidence and reports, that the disease was caused by the conditions at work. This is where most employers often get stuck. Compiling the documentation and submitting it in time is a process that takes time and dedication. It's a process that requires patience and empathy as it often involved professionals who are swamped with responsibilities, as well as the employee(s) involved. Getting them all to submit their information simply takes more than filling out a tick-sheet. However, failure to submit the correct information, or on time, can have dire consequences to the employee(s) involved.

In most cases, the victim becomes a victim for reasons beyond his or her control. They are often caught by as much surprise as those around them. Inconveniencing them by having their income affected is cruel, but also unnecessary. Each employee has the right to have his or her salary paid as usual pending a decision is made about the future. Get yourself an experienced and dedicated partner who can look after those processes and take away the stress that comes with handling the aftermath of an accident or incident.


The employer
The employer is stipulated by the COID Act to report any incident that result in disablement, death, unconsciousness to the Department of Employment and Labour. These types of accidents are termed as 'reportable injury' in terms of section 24 of the Occupational Health & Safety Act. An employer must meet compliance standards by using the correct form to report such incident called Annexure 1 form and address it to the Inspector or Occupational Health & Safety division at the Department of Employment and Labour. The above mentioned are the correct channels that an employer must follow according to a proper Incident Investigation Procedure so as to be considered to be compliant.

If the accident is fatal, an Inspector from the Department of Employment and Labour will be sent to conduct an inspection and his/her findings of the accident will be reported to the Chief Commissioner.
If the incident is minor or a near miss, the employer must refer the matter, for investigation, to the health and safety committee. The health and safety committee is expected to launch an internal investigation into the matter. They should establish the root cause and they should take action. They must implement control measures to prevent reoccurrence of the same incident.

The employer also has the duty to report an incident that needs compensation to the Compensation Authority or the relevant authority as soon as possible. They expect to receive the required documents too.
All parties of the workplace have a duty to fulfill in the Incident Investigation Procedure, by correctly reporting incidents to their next superior in the authority hierarchy in the workplace. It is essential for all parties involved to know their roles and responsibility to ensure that an efficient incident reporting procedure is followed.
Incident reporting is a legal requirement and the correct complaint procedures and steps should be followed. We can be of great assistance in ensuring that a proper Incident Reporting Procedure is drafted, communicated and implemented, when needed, for just about any workplace. Employees are also encouraged to participate in our training programs. We can also help you with the hassles of dealing with the Department of Employment and Labour and all the paperwork. 

Injury on Duty Form – better known as the W.CL. 2 Form
The Injury on Duty Form that must be used to report an occupational injury is the W.CL.2. It is the employer who must fill in the form to claim compensation from relevant authorities for an employee who has suffered an occupational injury. To avoid the stress associated with the paperwork and concerns of ending up being non-compliant due to lack of knowledge, I will discuss what information is required when filling in the form.

What information in required on a W.CL. 2 Form?
When filling in the Injury on a W.CL. 2 Form, a lot of information is required about the employer, the company and the employees involved. This includes the company contact details, location as well as its registration number with the Compensation Commissioner. Employers will also be required to state the nature of their business.

Injury on Duty Form
Employers are obliged by law to pay injured employees compensation for the first three months of their injury or sick leave. However, employers are requested to state in the Injury on Duty Form if they are prepared to make additional compensation payments after that period. If they have already paid the earnings, they must state the amount and length of such payment.

Employers must state the days the employee used to work, the last date they reported for duty, whether they completed their shift on the last day and the date they resumed work. If the employee was deceased, the employer must provide contact details of the dependents.
Details of any history of incident and previous compensation paid to the employee should be indicated in the Injury on Duty Form. This includes the details of the medical practitioner who treated the employee, the medical treatment the employee was given as well as the place where s/he was treated.


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Injuries on Duty and the Injury on Duty form
The Compensation Commissioner also wants to know the cause of the accident and whether there was anything that contributed to it. Personal details of witnesses or anyone who was aware of the accident are also required. Employers must, furthermore, indicate the number of other employees who were injured in the same accident (if any) and the name of the police station if the incident was investigated. If it was a road accident, registration details of the vehicles must be provided.
Full personal details of the employee must be filled in the Injury on Duty Form. Indication of the citizenship of the employee, period of employment and expected period of disablement are all required. The employer must indicate the remuneration of the employee at the time of incident as well as all allowances entitled to.
The place, date and time when the incident occurred and when it was reported must be stated. The task which was being performed at the time of incident should be stated. The experience of the employee in doing that particular task and if the employee's action were in line with correct protocol must be filled in the form.

The above are some of the most essential information that employers are expected to provide when filling in an Injury on Duty Form. However, there is additional information required. Because of the nature of their responsibilities, most employers do not have the full above-mentioned required information about their employees and their working activities.

Have injuries on duty covered for Road accidents?
Remember that the drivers in your employ are also on duty when driving the company vehicle for company purposes. They have to adhere to the road rules and regulations and when in an accident the need to be able to give you the information to be able to claim with the correct information.

Can a Compensation claim be rejected?
Claiming does not automatically guarantee that a claim will be paid out. There are many steps and procedures that must be followed. A further investigation will be conducted by the Compensation Authority. If an employer or an employee is found to be at fault and has caused or contributed to the incident, this will result in Compensation non-payment.

Registering with the relevant authorities is not a guarantee for compensation as well. Employers should also ensure that they are compliant with all health and safety standards.
Compensation non-payment is possible and employers should be ready to face the rejection of some of their claims. However, employers must be informed that there are certain reasons that constitute to a rejection of a claim, the major one being non-compliance to procedures and the Act. Learn more about it below.

Certain terms and conditions govern the processing and payment of claims. Employers must be well aware of such terms. Compensation non-payment is possible for the following claims and stated below are other conditions that may lead to employers ending up paying the claims, to the employees, out of their own pockets.

In terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Act, No 61 of 1997, claims for compensation for pain or suffering will not be approved or paid out. The Compensation Authority will definitely conduct an investigation for every incident that a claim is submitted for. If it is found that the employer was non-compliant or was negligent; the Compensation Authority will not pay out for such a claim. Employers will be faced with footing medical, legal and funeral bills out of their own pockets. If a company does not meet the health and safety compliance standards stated in the  Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 and such non-compliance contributes to an accident, they can get themselves ready to foot the bills for the injured employee. It is for this reason that we have always emphasised the importance of being fully compliant with the OHS Act.

Employers are encouraged to submit the relevant and required documents to the Compensation Authority or they will risk a possibility of the rejection of their claims. The Compensation Authority does not process and pay out claims unless all relevant documentation and the correct forms are used and submitted. Funeral costs incurred as a result of the accident are compensated to a determined maximum.

Compensation non-payment is possible if an employee is found to have been negligent in his duties and caused or contributed to the incident. No compensation will be made unless in the case where the employee has died. In that case, compensation will be paid to the surviving spouse(s) and children up to the age of eighteen (18) years by means of a monthly pension. If a dependent’s child is physically or mentally disabled and unable to earn a living, the pension will be paid until death.

An injured employee may apply for increased compensation if he/she feels the employer was grossly negligent. The employer may be faced with a civil case if such a scenario occurs.
Compensation non-payment is possible for a claim where an employer carries out his business primarily outside the country and his employee is injured whilst temporarily working in South Africa.

Compensation non-payment is definite if an employee refuses to undergo medical examination or refuses to submit a medical examination report. Also, compensation will not be paid if an employee submits false information. Employers should ensure only the correct information is submitted.

Compensation may not form part of the estate of a deceased employee. It may not be ceded, pledged, set off against debt or taxed. If an employee was involved in an accident and is absent from work for days not exceeding three, no compensation payment will be made for such an employee.

Reduce Workplace injuries
Workplace injuries result in the second-highest business expense after payroll, due to compensation that is claimed. In addition, employees run the risk of permanent damage, so it is important to reduce the risk of injury as far as possible.

How to reduce workplace injuries:
Display safety information clearly. This includes directions to emergency exits, warnings about wet floors or dangerous areas, and where the first aid equipment is located. It is important to keep all safety procedures updated.

Deal with hazards immediately. Slips and falls are responsible for over a third of all workplace accidents. Mop up any spills as they happen, cover cables, and ensure adequate lighting. Make sure workplace areas are kept orderly.

Be vigilant. Here are some examples: When lifting heavy objects, don’t bend your back, but lift with your legs and knees. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Take adequate breaks away from the computer screen.
Provide personal protection equipment (PPE) and training.

Research the particular safety vulnerabilities of your business. There are different safety concerns and risks to each company. Take note of common accidents and formulate strategies to keep them from happening again.

Injuries on Duty cases are best handled by professionals to reach compliance.
No matter how many control measures one can put in place in the work environment, errors, incidents and even injuries can always occur. Human error can never be ruled out. That is why companies must always be ready to deal with occupational injuries.  Our Injuries on Duty services offers employers the assistance that these cases will be handled correctly.
No matter how hard you try or how much effort you make; neglect and ignorance is hardly possible to be rooted out. The possibility of employees simply being unlucky makes it even worse as companies or employees with the highest attention to safety can still be involved in accidents. You have a choice, but the higher your Health and safety Compliance the better your chances are to rule out Accidents and injuries.


Accident and Incident Training
Accidents happen in the workplace and in order to ascertain the actual cause of the accident, how to avoid such an event in the future and know how to compensate workers (in some cases) investigations have to be carried out professionally. Thorough inspections of all systems and an in depth understanding of systems and processes within the business is essential. In order for accident and incident investigation processes to go ahead with successful results, they must be carried out by individuals who have been trained in the field.

Our accident and incident investigation training is a one day course that trains individuals to be able to carry out investigations into workplace safety, health and environmental incidents with relative ease. The course itself is aligned to unit standards and those who attend it will be assessed on the outcomes of a knowledge assignment. Successful completion of the course will also rely on compiling a portfolio of evidence to prove that the acquired knowledge can be effectively applied and used within the workplace.
Once the course is completed, the employee will be able to do the following:

Understand and explain the various legal and organisational requirements that regulate the reporting and investigation of health, safety and environmental incidents that occur within the workplace.
Process physical evidence collected during investigations.
Follow the correct procedures to investigate an incident.
Conduct post investigation activities.
Compile the various required reports to present the investigation professionally to the management members.
Those who attend our accident and incident investigation course can expect to be involved in facilitator presentations, readings and research, individual activities and group discussions. Attendees will also be required to participate in skill application exercises to prove that the learned skills can be used immediately. All of our students are strongly encouraged and advised to apply themselves from the very first moment of training to ensure that they achieve the best possible outcome. Understanding how to conduct the incident investigations that they will be faced with will certainly ensure that the task is easier to carry out and that the job will be one that is well done.

Posted date: 31st Mar 2022
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