1 Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, Technical University of Denmark
Studies on occupational accident statistics in South Africa are few and far between, the most recent paper on the manufacturing sector was published in 1990. Accidents in South Africa are recorded in two systems: Exhaustive information is available from the insurance system under the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner (WCC) but to access it on a timely basis is difficult. The legislative system under the Department of Labour (DOL) provides coarse but timely recordings. Interpretation is not simple however; both systems have seen changes to reporting formats and inclusion criteria over time, which hinder trend analysis. Also, the recordings of the two systems are not comparable due to major scope differences. This paper examines the relationship between the recordings in the two systems. Juxtaposing data from both systems the recordings of fatal accidents are found to be in agreement, somewhat less so for permanently disabling accidents/incidents. The paper examines if effects of the popular practice of replacing permanent workers with contract workers is visible in the WCC statistics – firm conclusions cannot be drawn however, due to data shortcomings. Data inaccuracies are reviewed and it is argued that WCC registrations may comprise industries outside the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) scheme for manufacturing. The quality of accident reporting in official publications began to deteriorate by mid-1990s. The largest problem, however, is that reporting has come to a standstill, by mid-2012 the most recent WCC statistical publication covers 1999.