The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) Accident Prevention and Workers’ Compensation Scheme is a scheme established to promote safety and health at workplaces and provide financial relief, through the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fund, for those injured in work-related accidents.
The scheme is administered in terms of Statutory Instrument 68 of 1990, which established the scheme in order to cushion members and their dependants from the financial consequences of work-related accidents and diseases and promote occupational safety and health.
On the occupational safety and health side, NSSA has a department devoted to promoting safety and health through awareness programmes, provision of technical advice on occupational safety and health systems, organisation of workshops, factory inspections and the proposing of safety and health legislation.
To cushion employees and their families against the consequences of a work-related accident or disease there is the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fund (WCIF). NSSA also runs a rehabilitation centre in Bulawayo to rehabilitate injured employees and help them either return to their work or learn skills that will enable them to make a living.
Every employer, apart from the government, employers of domestic workers and informal sector employers, is required to pay a WCIF premium for each employee. The premium is remitted to NSSA each month along with the employee’s and employer’s national pension contribution. It is paid by the employer, not by the employee.
Where an employer engages a contractor to carry out work in connection with his/her trade or business, the employer must ensure that the contractor has insured workers in his/her employ.
Should the employer not do so, he/she will be personally liable to pay the insurance assessment required to cover employees of the contractor.
An employer is defined in the regulations as a person or body of persons, corporate or non-corporate, having a contract of service or apprenticeship or learnership with a worker or a person who employs a worker, and includes any person controlling the business of an employer.
A worker, for the purposes of the scheme, is any person who is under a contract of service or apprenticeship, whether written or implied and whether employed full time or part time. Excluded, however, are domestic workers in private households and “outworkers”, who take work to do at home.
An accident means an unlooked for mishap or untoward event arising out of and in the course of a worker’s employment, which was not expected or designed by the worker and which results in injury to him/her.
Injury is defined by the regulations to mean a personal injury. The term includes the contraction of a disease.
When an employer commences business, he/she is required to go to the nearest NSSA office to complete registration forms indicating the estimated earnings of employees. The minimum insurance premium the employer is required to pay will be calculated using a risk factor for the type of industry the company is in.
Employers are required to report to the Workers’ Compensation Office any changes in their business which may change their insurance, for example changes of address, formation of a new partnership, change of business function and change of employment level.
This allows NSSA to keep accurate records and adjust its insurance premiums and records in line with any changes as and when they occur. Employers are expected to adhere to health and safety standards prescribed by NSSA and various laws and regulations relating to safety and health
If a worker is injured the employer should render first aid and transport him or her to the nearest health services provider. Transport costs will be reimbursed by NSSA.
The employer is required to report the accident to the nearest NSSA office after filling in the relevant details on the WCIF No. 14 form, copies of which employers should keep at their premises all the time.
This should be done within 14 days of the employer coming to know of the accident.
If the accident is serious or fatal, the employer should contact the nearest NSSA office and the police within 24 hours.
If an employer fails to report the accident within the stipulated time frame, this may attract a fine.
It is the duty of the worker to report to the employer or employer’s representative any accident at work that results in an injury to him or her. If the injury is reported late, the claim for compensation may be rejected due to insufficient evidence.
Every employer should take the precautions necessary to prevent accidents. However, should an accident occur, the WCIF provides financial compensation for loss of income, pays for medical treatment and offers rehabilitative services to enable the injured person to engage in productive work once more.
Talking Social Security is published weekly by the National Social Security Authority as a public service. There is also a weekly radio programme, PaMhepo neNssa/Emoyeni le NSSA, discussing social security issues at 6.50pm every Thursday on Radio Zimbabwe and every Friday on National FM. There is a similar programme on Star FM every Wednesday between 5.50 and 6pm.
Readers can e-mail issues they would like dealt with in this column to [email protected] or text them to 0772 307 913. Those with individual queries should contact their local NSSA office or telephone NSSA on (04) 706517-8 or 7065235.