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Health dept, gold industry launch compensation programme - Engineering News

Friday, 29 May 2015
The project was aimed at tackling the backlog of compensation claims from mineworkers who suffered occupational lung diseases while working in the mining sector, and ensuring that new valid claims were paid within a reasonable timeframe.

The eight participating companies – African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, DRDGold, Gold Fields, Harmony, Sibanye Gold and Village Main Reef – committed a combined R5-million for the project.

The companies believed this project was fundamental to their broader initiatives to deal with issues relating to compensation and medical care for occupational lung disease in the gold mining industry in South Africa.

The companies were engaging a range of stakeholders to design and implement a comprehensive, sustainable solution that was fair to past, present and future gold mining employees.

Project Ku-Riha marked a turnaround in the administration and operation of the compensation fund on which mineworkers who had contracted occupational diseases depended.

All parties acknowledged that the compensation system was not operating as effectively as it should, with significant backlogs in claims processing having built up over the years.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Compensation Commissioner Barry Kistnasamy were key to the creation of the project, which built on work by the DoH and the Chamber of Mines that led to the establishment of the first two one-stop service centres in Carletonville and Mthatha.

These centres offered medical examinations, rehabilitation assessment, health promotion and counselling to all patients, as well as referrals to other medical specialists if necessary. Patients could be diagnosed, treated and receive the help they need to stay healthy, in one place.

In addition, the centres helped individuals prepare and submit claims to the Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases (MBOD) for compensation.

The mining companies’ funding enabled the MBOD and the Compensation Commissioner for Occupational Diseases to employ a project manager and an additional 18 financial and government administration graduate professionals to carry out the necessary work.

Besides other things, the work of Project Ku-Riha included data capturing and verification, which confirmed the contents of the files, and capturing the most important information in each on an electronic database.

Accurate data was critical for the claim to be processed and compensated. The project would also tackle certification backlogs, project management and provide financial assistance to the Carletonville one-stop service centre.

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