Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Farm Worker Loses Four Fingers in Accident

By Bernard Chiguvare

Zimbabwean awaiting compensation and unable to work.

Fidelis Pedzisai lost four fingers of his right hand in February while offloading grapes onto a truck on a De Doorns farm.
Pedzisai, who is Zimbabwean, says he is one of several Zimbabweans and South Africans working as casual workers at Nulli Secunda farm.

He says he was offloading grapes during the lunch hour when he was injured.

"The forklift machine went through my four fingers leaving all four separated by a very thin [tissue] of flesh," he says. "I struggled to get down from the truck until some of my fellow Zimbabweans helped me down."

He was rushed to the nearest doctor and sent to Worcester Hospital, where he spent four days.
Now he is unemployed.

"I do not know what to do because I can no longer look for any kind of job. It is very difficult for me to use the other hand."

He had worked for one month for R120 per day before the accident. The accident happened on a Friday and he was paid up to date, his money sent to him through another Zimbabwean worker.

"After two weeks, my brother contacted my employer but was advised that I should go back to Zimbabwe and he can not pay the compensation," says Pedzisai.
Legally entitled to compensation

According to the Industrial Health Resource Group (IHRG), a labour support organisation specialising in occupational health and safety, workers who are injured at work are entitled to money from the Worker's Compensation Fund, whether they are in the country legally or not
Bomeshia Retief from IHRG said workers could report an accident to the Compensation Commissioner themselves by filing a Notice of Accident and Claim Form accompanied by medical reports from a doctor and witness statements.
Pedzisai has not yet reported the matter to Worker's Compensation but his case has been taken up by Robertson Legal Advice Centre.

According to Candice Van Reenen of the Department of Labour, the owner of the farm, Artwell Van Reback is registered with Worker's Compensation. She would not give further details.
But Shirley Davids, a paralegal at Robertson Legal Advice Centre, said Reback had not reported the accident.

Contacted by GroundUp, Reback told GroundUp not to call him again, and to write "real news not nonsense".

Jan Madiega, deputy director of employer registrations and compliance in the Department of Labour, said undocumented foreign nationals were vulnerable if they were hurt at work. But, he emphasised, employees could report accidents themselves.

He said Pedzisai should complete a report on a form he could get from the Department of Labour website, and attach medical reports. Doctors should include pictures of the injured hand.

The department would send an inspector to the employer, he said.

"With or without the employer's compliance or cooperation, we will proceed with the compensation depending on evidence provided by the employee."

Madiega emphasised that Section 39 of the Labour act requires all employers to report all injuries that have taken place at workplace and also section 24 of the Health and Safety requires employers to report any injuries at work

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