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October 1st, 2017 by


With 27% of the country unemployed, many people find themselves working in dangerous industries to make a living.

There are many courageous people who risk their lives on a daily basis to either build, grow, or protect our community. In many cases, these jobs have insurance policies specific to their particular function. 

We thought we would find out five of South Africa’s most dangerous jobs. 

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1. Mining

According to a Mining Weekly report, mining fatalities have increased by 31% in 2017 from last year. 73 miners died in 2016, with the biggest contributor being from Goldfields.

Lily Gold Mine is still currently making headlines with the ongoing case of last years mine collapse. Three miners have still to be recovered when the mine gave way, plunging their container office 60m underground.

Reasons for mining deaths include:

  • Entrapment;
  • Inhalation of toxic gases;
  • Exploding vessels under pressure;
  • Ignition or explosion of gases or dust.

Mining Insurance

Mines are continuously exposed to changing risks throughout the lifespan of the mine. Depending where the mine is at operation stage, determines the type of insurance an insurer will provide. Deep level mining poses one of the biggest risks in the industry and there are very specific companies who insure these types of mines.

The mines that fall under this category are:

  • Gold Mines;
  • Coal Mines;
  • Platinum Mines.

Mining insurance covers the property that the mine is situated on as well as the employees.

2. Firefighting

The Western Cape, as well as the Garden Route have shown recently just what these brave souls fight against to protect our lives, our possessions and our homes. Knysna, in particular, saw the death of a firefighter who sustained burns to 70% of his body. Another firefighter was critically injured, but miraculously pulled through, sustaining burns to 50% of his body.

Local organisation, Working on Fire, is a government-funded, job-creation programme focusing on implementing Integrated Fire Management in South Africa. Employing more than 5000 young men and women, they train up the recruits to be fully capable wildfire firefighters who are then stationed in more than 200 bases across South Africa.

They proudly employ: 

  • 94% of the participants are youth;
  • 31% of those people are women;
  • 3% of participants are disabled.

But what about their safety?

Firefighter’s Insurance

Surprisingly enough, there is no individual company that provides insurance for firefighters. According to City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Services’ Theo Lane, each municipality provides firefighters with a group one scheme.

Lane mentions that it is also up to the individual firefighter to ensure that they have their own life insurance policy and cover.

Each firefighter is however covered for:

  • Worker’s Compensation Fund;
  • Pension/Provident Fund;
  • Group Life Scheme.

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3. South African Police Service

According to a report by the South African Police Service, 57 policemen were killed during the 2016/2017. The previous year, there were 79 police officer deaths, 40 of them on duty.

“The fact that our members are attacked in the line of duty, serves as a harsh reminder of the challenges our officers are faced with daily to ensure that South Africans are, and feel, safe.  An attack on one officer is an attack on all,” added acting Police Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane.

SAPS Insurance

While the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act is designed to assist employees who work in dangerous industries, the SAPS is excluded.

The South African Police Service is also protected by the Worker’s Compensation Fund. Each municipal police station provides medical insurance for all their employees.

4. Paramedics/ Emergency Services

Many paramedics put their lives in danger as they find themselves in hazardous areas and situations while attending to patients.

Just last year, there were over 40 incidences that took place in the Western Cape that involved criminal attacks on paramedics.

Regulations have however recently been altered and in order to obtain an EMS qualification, you have to study through a university. This is counteractive to the paramedic community, as they rely on paramedics who have qualified, but not through University. This will, in essence, decrease the number of paramedics in service. 

EMS Insurance

South Africa’s emergency services are remunerated by the Worker’s Compensation Fund. This fund covers workers against damage or loss in the work place. This also includes protection of paramedics in unsafe areas.

The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) also provides members with protection against illness, injury and disease contracted in the workplace.

Many EMS companies also provide additional medical packages for their workers.

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5. Construction Worker

According to an alarming report by Occupational Care South Africa, “Two construction workers are killed every week and anecdotal evidence indicates that employees acting unsafely is the cause of 80% of accidents, resulting in injuries or damage to equipment.”

OCSA explains that these stats prove that “Occupational Health and Safety Act’s Construction Regulations have not yet had the desired effect on achieving and maintaining acceptable health and safety standards in the construction industry.”

So what are they doing to ensure that construction workers are safe?

Construction Worker Insurance

The Occupational Health and Safety Construction Regulation protect construction workers against injury and damages while on the job.

According to Regulation 7(1)(g) a Principal contractor must…

(g)  ensure that all his or her employees have a valid medical certificate of fitness specific to the construction work to be performed and issued by an occupational health practitioner.”

In conjunction with this, OCSA provides healthcare to all 540 construction companies nationwide. Their main aim is to ensure that all workers are “working fit” in order to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities in the industry.

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