The Compensation Fund says an exponential rise in applications, received as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, has seen the agency disperse R35 million in claims.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Fund said it continues to receive claims through licenced mutual assistance companies, Rand Mutual and Federated Employers.

In the past 11 months, the Fund says it received a total of 17 185 claims by employees exposed to the virus at work. Of these, 32 claims related to fatalities. Just over 12 200 claims were lodged directly with the CF, while 4 434 were lodged with Rand Mutual and 494 with Federated Employees.

“It is incumbent upon all employers – public and private – to ensure that all necessary precautions are taken to safeguard the lives of workers in the workplace,” the Fund said.

It encouraged all workers to do the basics like washing hands, where possible to keep safe distances and wear the appropriate protective gear, including a mask covering the nose and mouth.

The Fund said it is in the interest of employees to report unsafe working conditions, which could lead to them contracting or being infected with COVID-19.

“The employees, through their representatives, can approach our inspectors if they feel that their health is compromised and the department will conduct inspections, and as the worst form of sanction, close down non-complying workplaces,” said Compensation Fund Commissioner, Vuyo Mafata.

With 5 493 claims, the Western Cape accounted for the highest number of applications.

“Liability has been accepted for a total of 3 824 cases, 787 repudiated, 882 are pending adjudication and 12 fatalities have been recorded,” the Fund said.

Gauteng comes in second with 2 254 claims, 1 123 of which have been accepted. Of these, 870 were repudiated, while 568 are pending adjudication.

“The province of the Eastern Cape has the third highest number with 1 961 claims — 1 309 of those have been accepted, 71 have been repudiated, and 581 are pending adjudication, with two fatalities recorded. KwaZulu-Natal has the fourth highest number of claims at 1 891.

“A total of 785 have been accepted, 538 repudiated and 568 await adjudication, with one fatality,” the Fund said.

Mpumalanga has 371 claims,  181 of which have been accepted, 24 were repudiated and 166 await adjudication, with two fatalities.

Exactly 164 claims were from the Northern Cape.

“A total of 70 have been accepted, 18 repudiated and 76 await adjudication, and two fatalities have been recorded. The Free State has 91 claims, 75 of which have been accepted, 10 repudiated and six await adjudication, with one fatality. Limpopo has lodged three claims. One has been accepted and two repudiated,” the Fund said.

The Fund said Rand Mutual Association had received 4 434 claims, while recording nine fatalities.

The Federated Employers received 494 claims, with most coming from Gauteng (306 and one fatality), KwaZulu-Natal (53 and one fatality), Western Cape (51), Eastern Cape (34 with one fatality), Mpumalanga (14), North West (14), Northern Cape (11), Free State (9) and Limpopo (2).

“It is important to note that when we say the claim has been repudiated, this could change if we are given more information about the particular claim. This then should not be read as having had the door slammed in the face of the claimants.

“Where we accept the claim, this means that we have accepted the claim as a valid occupational injury or disease, and we accept responsibility for the costs related to the claim (medical aid costs and disability costs).

“Those awaiting adjudication means that the claims have been received but no decision has been made on the claim due to outstanding information or the claim has not been attended to as yet,” says Mafata.

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