The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, Act 130 of 1993, largely governs work-related compensation claims and related matters in South Africa.
The main objective of the Act is to provide compensation for disablement caused by occupational injuries or diseases sustained or contracted by employees or for death resulting from injuries or diseases and provide for matters related to this. In terms of the Act, compensation for employees and their dependents includes medical costs or constant attendance care allowance and funeral costs where applicable.
Section 1 of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) defines an occupational injury as ‘‘an accident arising out of and in the course of an employee’s employment and resulting in a personal injury, illness or the death of the employee’’. To qualify for a COIDA-related claim, an accident should ‘‘arise out of and in the course of an employee’s employment’’. These claims are generally referred to as injury on duty (IOD) claims, and are claimed from the Compensation Fund. The main objective of the Compensation Fund is to provide compensation for disability, illness and death resulting from occupational injuries and diseases.
In South Africa, many road accidents cause serious injuries and death. One of the questions that frequently arise is, ‘‘If an employee were injured or dies because of a work-related vehicle accident, would the employee (or, in case of a fatal accident, the dependents of the deceased employee) qualify for compensation?’’
For an IOD or fatality due to a work-related vehicle accident to be claimable from the Compensation Fund, the accident should have occurred while the employee was on duty, carrying out a function that he or she was employed to do.
If the vehicle accident did not occur within the cause and scope of the employee’s duty, costs due to injury could alternatively be covered by the Road Accident Fund (RAF).
The RAF is a statutory body that exists to provide compensation to the people of South Africa in terms of the Road Accident Fund, Act 56 of 1996, for loss or damage as a result of bodily injury or death caused by negligent driving within our borders. The RAF provides compulsory coverage for road users. If a vehicle accident did not occur within the cause and scope of the employee’s duty (if it is not an IOD), victims could for example file a claim for compensation against the RAF. This coverage covers all people who are involved in an accident, including victims and their dependents.
Not all injuries are covered by the RAF, only injuries that are generally considered as serious.
Neither the RAF nor the Compensation Fund accepts liability for vehicle damages.
Section 22(5) of the COIDA elaborates on travel-related IOD claims. The subsection stipulates that ‘‘the conveyance of an employee free of charge to or from his place of employment for the purposes of his employment by means of a vehicle driven by the employer himself or one of his employees and specially provided by his employer for the purpose of such conveyance, shall be deemed to take place in the course of such employee’s employment’’.
For the claim to be accepted by the Compensation Fund, the following criteria must be met:
- Was the vehicle provided by the employer?
- Was the vehicle provided free of charge?
- Was the vehicle provided for the purposes of work/ employment?
- Was the vehicle driven by the employer himself or one of his employees?
Claimants should also be able to prove that they travelled on the most economical route to work when the accident occurred.
Employees travelling to the office and back home with a private vehicle would not be covered, as they would not be on duty while en route to work.
On the other hand, employees who travel for business, are drivers of company vehicles, or are transported as part of their job would be covered if they are injured or die due to a work-related vehicle accident.
Call-outs: When an employee is called out to perform work, these individuals would be covered while travelling to work as well as the period during which they perform work for the employer. Please note that these individuals would normally not be covered when travelling back home (except when it is a company vehicle provided free of charge for the purpose of work).
Standby: When a standby worker (like a maintenance worker who is performing official standby duty) is called out by the employer and is injured or dies due to a vehicle accident while travelling to and from work, it should be viewed as an injury on duty. Standby workers who are called out would be covered while travelling to and from work, even if they are making use of private transport.
The organisation’s policy on standby duty may also have an influence on the Compensation Commissioner’s ruling on an IOD.
The following questions are normally asked by the Compensation Commissioner’s office if an employee is involved in a motor vehicle accident and a claim for compensation is lodged:
- Describe in detail how and where (street names etc.) the accident happened.
- Include detailed statements by the driver of the vehicle and eyewitnesses to the accident, describing how and where (street names, etc.) the accident occurred, as well as a diagram.
- Who is the registered owner of the vehicle?
- Name the place of departure and the destination of the vehicle at the time of the accident.
- Was the vehicle travelling on a direct route to its destination from its place of departure?
- What was the purpose of the journey?
- Was the vehicle specifically used for the purpose described in the above question? (For example, if the purpose of the journey was to deliver bread, was the vehicle assigned to the task of transporting bread?)
- What control did you exercise over the driver of the vehicle for determining the vehicles point and time of departure, destination and route, as well as being able to discontinue the transport at any time?
- Was transport supplied free of charge to employees to transport them to and from work?
- The registration number(s) of the vehicle(s) involved in the accident.
Source: Labour Guide