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Workers compensation refers to a form of insurance whereby the employer compensates his employees for injuries suffered during the course of their employment. This implies that the employer is not liable for injuries suffered by their employees acting in independent capacity. As such, determination of fault is core in assessing compensation in workers compensation. Given that this is a no-fault program, employers are not bound to compensate their employees for injuries suffered if fault can be determined on employees’ part. The term injury is also used as to include diseases.
In law, the employer is under obligation to provide safe working environment for his employees. The law is clear on what an environment can be termed to be safe to work in. For instance, the roofs of buildings where employees work from should meet a certain minimum height. The walls and roofs should also be painted properly and free of dust. All vessels containing poisonous fumes or liquids should also be sealed and fenced appropriately. The employer should also ensure that his premises have precautionary gadgets viz. First aid kits and fire extinguishers. Failure to comply with these standards is what has constantly caused employers trouble.
Existence of Workers Compensation Act has proven to be beneficial to the employees in several ways. Before the introduction of this Act, workers solely relied on lawsuits to recover damages suffered. Lodging a claim in a court of law is not easy for many people. Furthermore, the process is costly meaning that prior to Workers Compensation Act, getting justice was expensive for workers. However, with the introduction of this Act and the subsequent adoption of the Act by trade unions have properly catered for the welfare of workers. It is imperative to note that workers’ rights are no longer an individual affair but rather, a collective affair. The modern work force is able to collectively bargain for their rights. Besides, workers benefit from the existence of Workers Compensation in that they are compensated for a variety of other damages viz. Loss of income from incapacitation, and arbitrary layoffs, to mention just a few.
On the other hand, the law is unambiguous in defining who an employee is. This definition apparently protects many employers who would otherwise compensate people who do not qualify to be termed as employees. In law, an employee is a person who has been authorised by his master to do a particular act, and indeed relies on the directions of that his principal to perform that act. In other words, he does not do as he thinks right. The person must also have been employed under a contract of service. This is distinguished from an independent contractor, who, despite being employed under a contract of service does not meet the definition of a worker. This is because he does not follow the directions of his master but rather, relies on his own skill to perform the duty assigned. A master (employer) is not liable for the injuries suffered by an independent contractor in his premises unless negligence can be proved on his part. The employer is also protected by this Act in that he is only liable for the damages suffered by his employees strictly in the course of their employment.
In conclusion, therefore, the benefits of Workers Compensation Act are multidimensional in that it benefits both the employees and employers. Its existence is justifiable in that it has resulted to industrial harmony. This has in turn raised the overall productivity of the work force.