Friday, 25 July 2014

SUSTAINED INJURY, DISEASE, DISABILITY, ACCIDENT (PERMANENT/ TEMPORARY) AT WORK OR IN THE COURSE OF WORK? HERE ARE THINGS YOU MAY NEED TO KNOW.

"Safety and health at work is not only a sound economic policy - it is a basic human right”
Kofi Annan, Former UN Secretary General

As a Legal Practitioner, I have attended to a good number of victims of work place accident; some understood their rights under the law to a large extent, while some did not have a grab of it at all. Many were concerned about the fact that they were mere “casual workers”, “extern”, “contract staff”, “apprentice”, “domestic worker”, and the list goes on. They thought they had a very limited right and privilege by reason of their kind of contract. Out of a deep sense of concern, I have decided to pen down answers to some of the questions that may crop up in the minds of such victims and their dependants. I hope that it addresses the rights, duties, and obligations of the victims and dependants in the simplest way. Questions, queries, and further contributions may be addressed to eyitayoogunyemi@gmail.com, or you can reach me on +234-806-062-3454.

What is a Work Place Accident? It is an occurrence arising out of or in the course of work which results in fatal or non-fatal occupational injury.

What are the benefits that may be claimed? The benefit that may be claimed depends on the kind of industrial accident/ disability. It includes: monetary compensation, health care benefit, and disability support.

Can temporary workers, Apprentices, Part time workers, domestic servants, casual workers etc also make claims? Yes, they can as they are covered.

Who may be exempted from making claims? Any member of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (other than those employed in civilian capacity).

How do I make a compensation claim?
Notify the employer or other appropriate representative(s) of the employer about the disability, disease, or injury. The notification should be in writing (preferably) stating the name of the victim, time and place of occurrence, nature and cause of disease/ injury if known, and must be done immediately or as soon as possible.

The victim or victim’s dependant must address an application for compensation to the nearest office of the National Social Insurance Trust Fund Management Board. The application must be made within the shortest possible time after the date of death, injury, or disability arising from the occupational accident or disease. If you are not sure whether your employer complied with the law in this regard, you may request for your account details or that of the deceased worker with the National Social Insurance Trust Fund Management Board.

Must accident occur within office premises? No, what is essential is that it occurred in the course of work (you may contact your legal attorney or a labour expert for a better understanding of this).

What if the worker has entered an agreement with the employer to waive or forego his right to compensation? Such agreement is void. The worker will therefore still be entitled to compensation.
In practice, many employers are still in breach of the laws regulating Employees’ Compensation for workplace accidents. Some employers that have registered their account with the National Social Insurance Trust Fund Management Board do not render true or up to date account of the names, and number of staff in their employment. Many employers do not even know this aspect of the law and do not border to consult their legal attorney (if you are an employer of labour, please check my article titled WHAT EVERY EMPLOYER MUST KNOW ABOUT EMPLOYEES COMPENSATION). The questions addressed here are not exhaustive; other questions may be addressed to me via my e-mail eyitayoogunyemi@gmail.com, you may also reach me on +234-806-062-3454.