The DA will be writing to the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, requesting reasons as to why the Risk Committee for Mines and Works has only met twice in the space of five years since 1 January 2009.
This comes after a reply to a DA Parliamentary question which reveals that the committee has only met on 12 May 2010 and 25 February 2014.
The function of the committee is to determine the risk of contracting a compensatable disease, to which persons who perform risk associated work in, or at or in connection with mines and associated works is exposed. Such determination is used to decide on the levies to be paid by all mines and risks works to the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (ODMWA) compensation fund managed by the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works (CCOD).
The reply also reveals that no declarations as to “controlled mines and works” other than the current 249 controlled mines and works have been made since 1 January 2009.
It seems unlikely that – over the past five years – that the Committee can faithfully claim to have performed its function.
Without regular oversight, mining safety regulation and employee compensation for occupationally related injury or impairment is largely left to the oversight of health department officials without full engagement from all stakeholders in the sector – mainly labour.
South African mineworkers are amongst the most vulnerable groups of workers in South Africa and they have poor access to medical health services and facilities. Moreover, the nature of their work often exposes them to the risk of lung diseases and other physical injuries.
Making matters worse, even those who have the benefit of working operations that have been declared as risk prone, gaining access to healthcare services via the fund due to reported underfunding and under-staffing at the CCOD has resulted in a massive backlog of current claims.
The existing level of inefficacy cannot be allowed to fester any longer.
The DA will submit further questions on –
What action has been taken to ensure the fund’s effective running
How many claims have been processed over the last five years and how may claims are yet to be processed and or considered and
How much funding is currently available for it to meet its liabilities to workers.
Workers’ health and wellbeing should be at the forefront of the Department of Health’s concerns – that must include the effective running of the institutions charged with ensuring public health.
The DA will continue to fight for the wellbeing of workers in mining communities and ensure that all measures designed to protect them are adhered to.
Hendrik Schmidt, Shadow Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources
Source : Democratic Alliance