Employers Reporting Accidents
When advising clients about injuries on duty the issues surrounding reporting of accidents is one of my favourite topics. Why? Because of all the unique excuses offered for not reporting an alleged accident. If I was so bold to try my hand at writing a book, I would have included some of these absolute gems. Unfortunately space here allows me only to summarise. The fact remains, to be brief, that numerous organisations where people are employed, do not always report the injuries sustained by employees for various reasons, some of which are ludicrous.
The consequences of the failure to report accidents to the authorities.
Over the years I have often wondered whether the persons tasked to report alleged accidents to the Compensation Commissioner were aware of the consequences of not reporting. The fact that these persons do not know the law is not only inexcusable but it is criminal towards the employee who has sustained an alleged injury. You see, dear people, the reason for my unhappiness with you, the guilty ones, is the fact that the Act prohibits the injured employee to take any legal action against his or her employer. So if you do not report the alleged accident it means that he or she has no legal recourse, just outstanding accounts. Ask the medical service providers if you think I am exaggerating about the outstanding accounts. Alas, I can only tell you that the reporting of alleged accidents in the RSA leaves a lot to be desired. Whether that is due to the prevailing disrespect for the law in the RSA or whether to reasons such as sloppy administration of a large number of employers, I do not know. I am not the devils advocate for the Compensation Commissioner, quite the contrary, but employers should realise that the injured employee has no other legal remedy. Only the Compensation Commissioner can assist the injured, and how long it sometimes takes is no excuse for not reporting alleged accidents. If the employer is of the opinion that the Compensation Commissioner’s office is not performing as the COID Act requires it to do, why keep quiet? Why then let the injured suffer for the sake of incompetent Compensation Commissioner’ officials? Or is it politically incorrect? Should one never blame the state?
Further bad news for those who do not report accidents is the, perhaps not so well known, fact that the Compensation Commissioner can if it comes to their attention that an accident has not been reported hold the employer responsible for the full amount of the claim. Now you all know what it costs nowadays to spend a few weeks in hospital after a serious accident. Remember an injured employee has free choice as far as doctor and hospital is concerned. That amount can be recovered from the defaulting employer over and above a penalty for which the employer becomes liable. Now you know what serious consequences can follow a failure to report an accident. Not worth taking a chance is it?
The Compensation Commissioner will adjudicate the liability in respect of an alleged claim
The small print in the State policy called workers’ compensation reads as follows; if any employee in your organisation alleges that he or she has suffered an accident in your employ, you should report this to the Compensation Commissioner. Please note, the fact you do not agree that the alleged accident took place, does not serve as an excuse not to report. The time limit for reporting is seven days after having received notice or having learned in some other way of the accident. The prescribed form is known to you but if you are new to this game, it is the W Cl 2 for an accident and a W Cl 1 for an occupational disease. This is not where your duty ends, it is where it begins. This is actually the beginning of the whole procedure of claims for injuries on duties. If you do not know what the rest is, I suggest that you approach your boss for a financial advance to attend training in this respect. Caveat emptor(beware the buyer), there are many trainers around who actually need training on the subject.
Till next time.