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Minerals Council Spearheads Mineworker Health Initiatives

Enhancing Compensation for Occupational Lung Disease Sufferers

by Adenike Adeodun

The Minerals Council South Africa has recently been in the spotlight for its commendable efforts to support mineworkers affected by compensable occupational lung diseases. This initiative underscores a significant collaboration with the National Department of Health, aimed at expediting the certification and payment of medical benefits to those impacted by these conditions. Health Minister Dr. Joe Phaahla has praised the council for its vital role in ensuring timely compensation for sufferers or their dependents, highlighting a partnership that seeks to enhance and streamline compensation processes.

At the heart of these efforts is the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (ODMWA), which governs the medical assessments and certification of occupational lung diseases through the Medical Bureau of Occupational Diseases (MBOD). Additionally, the Compensation Commissioner for Occupational Diseases (CCOD) oversees the disbursement of compensation to eligible current and former mineworkers. This legislative framework is crucial in addressing lung diseases prevalent among mineworkers, aiming to provide them with the necessary support and compensation.

Despite these structured processes, the Minerals Council has identified delays in amending the ODMWA, which have hindered the implementation of a statutory levy. This has led to reliance on a voluntary levy paid by its members to bolster the MBOD and CCOD’s operational efficiencies. The council’s intervention since 2019 has been instrumental in addressing the significant backlogs and inadequacies that previously plagued these bodies, marked by a lack of specialized personnel, funding, and adequate medical services for mineworkers.

The council’s proactive stance in 2019, agreeing to fund operational enhancements through a voluntary, cost-reflective levy, has marked a turning point. This commitment has not only facilitated over R600-million in support from its members but also spearheaded advancements in digital compensation claims management and database systems. These improvements have led to more efficient claim finalizations, with the number of claims processed annually more than doubling in the past five years compared to the previous two decades.

Moreover, the value of benefit payments has seen a notable increase, with the Compensation Fund’s capital growing significantly, despite the increased number of claims and higher value payouts. This growth underscores the Minerals Council’s impact in ensuring that mineworkers and their families receive meaningful benefits.

The Minerals Council’s efforts have also yielded financial savings for its members, with an adjusted levy system based on actuarial valuation saving them R1 billion since 2019. Furthermore, the enhanced corporate governance of the MBOD and CCOD, evidenced by clean audit outcomes and timely reports, highlights the strides made in transparency and accountability.

CEO Mzila Mthenjane emphasizes the council’s dedication to the health and safety of mining sector employees, aiming to mitigate the adverse effects of occupational lung diseases. This commitment reflects a broader objective to address legacy issues in mining, ensuring that those who have served the industry are not left behind.

The Minerals Council’s initiatives represent a pivotal movement towards addressing the longstanding challenges faced by mineworkers with occupational lung diseases. Through collaboration, financial support, and technological advancements, the council is setting a precedent for how industry and government can work together to effect positive change, ensuring that mineworkers and their families are compensated fairly and efficiently. This ongoing work not only highlights the council’s commitment to social responsibility but also paves the way for a more sustainable and equitable mining sector in South Africa.


Source: Mining Weekly

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