THABAZIMBI – Farmers can claim for injuries to employees sustained during a fire from the Workmen’s Compensation Fund, provided that the farmer and his workers are registered with the Department of Labour.
Rebecca Malatje from the Department of Labour attended the latest FPA (Fire Protection Association) meeting in Thabazimbi on 3 June to answer questions regarding claims against the Workmen’s Compensation Fund during a firefighting operation.
A claim will only be successful if the injury was sustained during working hours or hours as arranged by the farmer. Farm workers will also be covered if the farm owner asked them to fight a fire on a neighbouring farm. Temporary workers, who have a contract with a registered farmer, are also covered in the case of an injury sustained during fighting a fire.
All injuries must be reported on a form called “Employer’s Report of an Accident” and must accompany the injured worker to the doctor. These forms are available from Thabazimbi’s FPA secretary, Renette Lategan, on 083 688 0319 or 014 772 2863.
Another issue which was addressed during the meeting was that of clearing the road shoulder.
Beauty Madala of the Waterberg District Municipality’s Roads and Transport Division also attended the meeting. She explained that her department was experiencing challenges with a shortage of personnel, equipment and finances. During the meeting it was made clear to her that, despite these challenges, it was her division’s responsibility to cut the long grass on the road shoulder and keeping it short.
A fire broke out next to Marakele National Park during the weekend of 6 June, but assistance could not be obtained from the Working on Fire (WoF) team who was not on standby. It appears that the WoF team is only required to be on standby when the official fire season starts in July. The co-operation between the different fire protection agencies, including WoF, will be discussed at the next FPA meeting on 8 July.
A document, the Compliance and Enforcement Action Plan, will be finalized and distributed to all the FPA members after the meeting in July.
FPA members must also be aware of what documentation are relevant and required (by law) for planned and other fires. Two weeks before a firebreak or blockburn is executed a notification form must be completed and submitted to neighbours and satellite leaders of the FPA. These forms can be obtained from, and have been forwarded to FPA members, from Renette Lategan, FPA secretary.
In addition, when a block burn is being planned, permission must be obtained from the Deparment of Agriculture and application forms from this department must completed. Enough time must be allowed for this process.
If a veld fire (unplanned) has occurred on a farm, another form must be completed and submitted to the FPA, regarding estimates on the amount of damage which was suffered.