MineralsCouncilSABL Premium reports that the Minerals Council SA (MCSA), formerly called the Chamber of Mines, has objected to what it says are “draconian” penalties for relatively minor contraventions contained in the Compensation of Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Bill.

The bill proposes a number of changes to the principal act, including extending the rights of compensation to domestic workers. The MCSA’s Dr Thuthula Balfour said in a presentation to MPs on the proposed bill that the penalty for employers that failed to report an accident to the Compensation Fund within seven days of its occurrence was too harsh. In terms of the amendment, the penalty would amount to 10% of actual or estimated annual earnings of the company for that particular year. Balfour proposed instead that the penalty of 10% be limited to the earnings of the employee(s) involved in the accident and that this be the maximum which could be imposed. “If the new proposed provision remains unqualified it will have draconian consequences. It does not give the commissioner any discretion to impose a lesser penalty in the event there is a valid reason for not reporting,” Balfour pointed out. The MCSA also expressed concern about a proposed amendment empowering the minister to issue licences to insurance companies that insure employers against their medical liabilities incurred at the workplace. Mining companies use Rand Mutual Assurance and Federated Employers Mutual Assurance to deal with injury claims, and Balfour said the amendment bill should provide for the continuation of the validity of licences already issued, otherwise it would create uncertainty.

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