Columnists Features

Workers’ safety and protection: Just who is responsible for it?

JUST whose responsibility is it? No job is too important to be done if it is not safe. If that is the case, then we ask just whose responsibility is it to ensure work is safe for workers.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure work is safe for all, not just workers and not just health and safety experts. We are not saying that all the jobs are not safe but that work should not hurt or kill at all; and that if accidents happen despite all human endeavour to prevent them, the victims must be compensated for loss of earnings.
Yes, sometimes health and safety education has gone only so far to help prevent accidents. But when accidents occur, like the recent case where four miners were buried at a major mining operation in Kitwe, the victims or their surviving dependants must be compensated.
It is the primary objective of the Workers Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB) to compensate workers for employment related injuries and diseases, and therefore sensitisation of employers and education of workers is part of the WCFCB activities. But that does not in any way inhibit employers from availing information on the compensation procedure to their workers.
Employers must take keen interest in the welfare of their employees and ensure that sufficient information is given about protection policies at work places including workers’ compensation. Work place safety can be described as policies and procedures put in place to ensure the safety and health of employees within a workplace.
The Workers Compensation Act under Section 145 states that “Every employer, when so required by the Commissioner, shall cause to be affixed in a conspicuous place where that employer’s workers are employed a clearly printed summary, in a form and language as the Commissioner may require, of the procedure laid down in the Act for the recovery of compensation in the event of an accident.”
Our timely advice to employers is that they should ensure affixation of compensation procedure at their workplaces to avoid running into trouble with the law.
At the behest of the Workers’ Compensation Act, employers are required to affix the compensation procedure at workplaces for the education of workers, and in my opinion, this should form part of the health and safety posters that we often find at reception or waiting areas in most workplaces.
Workers’ compensation education like health and safety should actually be everyone’s business at the workplace. We should learn to borrow from our colleagues in the Western world who believe in going an extra mile to protect the lives of people at work and the environment in which they work.
All employers amenable to the Workers Compensation Act 10 of 1999 are reminded of their obligations, as follows: (i) Register with the Board within 14 days of commencement of business – Section 134(1)
(ii) Submit a statement of earnings/wages –Section 112(1)
(iii) Keep records and produce them on demand and avoid knowingly making a false entry –Section 135
(iv) Avoid submitting a false statement -Section 137
(v) Report an accident by the employer –Section 88.
To enhance efficiency in the delivery of service to all our stakeholders, we have a network of 20 branches across Zambia.
We have an online platform where employers can do assessments from the comfort of their offices. Visit us at www.workers.com.zm and go to compensation–online.
Employer passwords are provided on request at any branch near you.
The new financial year begun on April 1, 2016 and all employers are encouraged to submit the annual assessments at any branch near them.
The author is corporate affairs and customer services manag¬er at Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board. Email: mnkholomba@workers.com.zm



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