Chapter VII: Occupational Diseases

From the previous columns I presume that you have mastered principles such as:

  • Temporary Disablement;
  • Permanent Disablement;
  • Benefits payable for the different types of disablement;
  • Procedures and types of benefits payable in cases of fatalities; and
  • Increased compensation due to the negligence of the employer.

I sincerely trust that you have studied the provisions of these sections, failing to do so will not qualify you as a workers’ compensation administrator.

Occupational Diseases   (sections 65 to 70).

As can be deduced from the title of the Act (Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, 1993) this Act does not only provide for cover against occupational injuries that are work related but also against occupational diseases that are work related. Section 1 of the COIDA defines occupational diseases as follows:

‘“Occupational disease” means any disease in section 65(1) (a) or (b)” 

65 Compensation for occupational diseases

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Chapter, an employee shall be entitled to the compensation provided for and prescribed in this Act if it is proved to the satisfaction of the Director-General- 

(a) that the employee has contracted a disease mentioned in the first column of Schedule 3 and that such disease has arisen out of and in the course of his or her employment; or 

(b) that the employee has contracted a disease other than a disease contemplated in paragraph (a) and that such disease has arisen out of and in the course of his or her employment.

Why was it necessary to include these two subsections if it in fact both provides for compensation for occupational diseases? There is, however, an all-important difference between 65(1) (a) and (b). Under the 1941 Act compensation was not payable if the disease was not listed. Under the 1993 it can be paid but the principles associated with the subsections differ drastically. I will summarise the difference briefly:

If a “disease” and “work” are listed in the two column of Schedule 3 of COIDA, the onus to disprove that such a disease has arisen out of and in the course of the person’s employment is on the CC. (See confirmation of this in section 66). On the other hand if the “disease” is not listed in Schedule 3, the onus to prove that the disease has arisen out of and in the course of his or her employment is on the employee who alleged that it is a work related disease.

The calculation principles of the compensation are the same for occupational diseases as that for injuries. I need, therefore, not discuss it as it was done last month.

There is, however, a small difference between the two namely the period in which to report to the CC. In the case of an injury it must be reported by the employer within 7 days and having received notice of the accident. In the case of an occupational disease it must be reported within 14 days after having received notice that the employee has contracted the disease.


Occupational diseases are for various reasons severely neglected in South Africa. One of the main reasons is that it is far more difficult to diagnose it than a traumatic injury. Doctors are not familiar with the principles associated with occupational diseases, something which is also obvious during the examination of the patient. How many doctors ask the patient about his occupation or the nature of his duties? A lot of training lies ahead to improve this situation.

Till next time.