The Occupational Accidents Law celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. This law regulates the method of identifying occupational accidents and compensating for them in our country, and allocates this power to private insurance companies. An option that contradicts the trend of other European countries, because this matter remains in the hands of the government. 50 years on, the numbers are still far from positive.
The first is that the management of these private insurance companies focuses mainly on profit, among other things by limiting services to employees as much as possible. Private insurers are strongly inclined to intervene as little as possible, by identifying very few occupational accidents, but also by not adequately compensating victims.
Only 1 in 3 accidents are reported
As far as employers are concerned, they are not particularly prepared to report accidents to their employees. For example, it is often found that companies have their injured employees doing an adequate job to avoid reporting accidents at work, or to reduce the consequences so that their insurance contributions do not increase. This tendency to not report accidents – which appear harmless – can have unfortunate consequences if complications arise, but also for accident prevention and the Social Security system, which hypothetically bears the costs of such unrecognized accidents.
The bounce rate is 6 times higher than in 1985
The lack of recognition of accidents is also a problem. Figures compiled since 1985 show a continuous increase in the rate of rejection. In 2021, this percentage is 13% in the private sector, no less than six times more than in 1985! There are several indications that insurance companies mistakenly dismiss many accidents.
Even when an accident is recognized, the victim still has to overcome many obstacles in order to obtain appropriate recognition and compensation for the damage he suffered. On the other hand, the insurance company often refuses to pay the victim compensation for the entire period of inability to work. On the other hand, there is a strong tendency to underestimate the impact of the consequences on an employee’s work ability. This assessment is far from objective and leads to a large number of lawsuits.
2 x victim? No!
Now that the Occupational Accidents Act has lit 50 candles, the ABVV-Central Office can only lament that an employee who has had a work accident is not only a victim of physical and psychological injury related to the accident, but is also often a victim of an accident that the law does not allow for fair and dignified recognition of his or her harm.
We are questioning this system and demanding greater fairness, including by exercising more control over how private insurance companies handle files. That is why we ask FEDRIS to tighten controls and verify files more thoroughly, and that in the event of defects in the insurance company, the decision can be reviewed.