The Occupational Hazards Fund

Ministerio del Trabajo República de Colombia

Last update 12/01/2017 04:44:21 p.m.

Overview

Regulatory development of the law

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The first legal dispositions  date  from 1915  under Law 57 of that same year, and were created as a protective measure  to deal with  occupational  hazards  that should receive compensation. Later, the labor legislation set out in Legal Decree 2350 of 1944 and amended under Law 6 of 1945, established the  law  on  occupational  injuries  and  illness  and subsequently, the  National  Labor  Code of 1950 stipulated compensation by  private-sector employers for occupational injuries and illness and Decree 3135 of 1968 and Decree 1848 of 1969 set out the same obligations for the public sector.

It is noteworthy that  when the National  Social  Security  Administration  was created in 1946 it became responsible for occupational injury and illness insurance, thus replacing the employer?s obligations and providing the necessary financial aid and assistance in accordance with the stipulations of Decree 3170 of 1964.he first legal dispositions  date from 1915 under Law 57 of that same year, and were created as a protective measure to deal with occupational.

Finally, prior to the 1991 Constitution, there  were important  legal  developments such as Law 9 of 1979, Decree 614 of 1984, Resolution No. 2013 of 1986, and  Resolution  No. 1016 of 1989 under the jurisdiction of the Department of Social Protection, establishing  a  new  model  for  social  security   whereby   coverage   became  more  dynamic through  the application  of  tools  such  as  the  free  choice  of  entities  and  the  combination of public  and  private  management, strengthening the program?s financial structure, and the unification of program financing for benefits.

Legislation on Occupational injuries and illness

During the classic era, from the second half of the 19th century until  World  War II, Western countries developed a legal framework for occupational injuries, work-related illness, and  family  responsibilities. This legislation  was characterized by the use of specific  tools  and  techniques  in  the  social security  system, in essence combining commercial insurance instruments used by  private  companies  and  the  protective mechanisms  used by mutual associations  whereby  all the members  were  insured  under the  system. The  population  group  benefiting  from  these  initiatives was initially quite limited, including only  the  working classes, and even today, few of these programs have managed to surpass this scope of coverage.

Occupational injuries and illnesses are events that generate a high degree of sensitivity among public authorities in terms of the legal aspects, not only because of the frequency of injuries that occur in factories, but also because many of these events were the result of new technologies and caused by organizing production such that workers were forced to work long hours in the early days of the industrial revolution.

Who should take the responsibility for injuries that occur in factories? This responsibility, at a time when labor law was still in its infancy, was linked to civil law recognition of a contractual basis for responsibility, whereby a breach of the agreement was deemed to occur and the responsibility was based on blame or negligence. Long and complex legal disputes attempted to establish corporate responsibility for these types of injuries, a situation that changed little when clarification was sought through the courts.

After various decades of disputes between employers and workers, the solution was found in the development of a theory of objective responsibility; according to this view, as set out by Alarcón and González (Madrid, 1987), the legal order would assign responsibility to repair damages caused without examining blame or negligence, based simply on the occurrence of an objective factor that had been previously defined in the case of occupational injuries and which became known as ?occupational hazards?. The company is always responsible for hazards created simply by the company?s operation.

These principles formed the basis of the law in this area, which was created at the end of the last century: in Italy, the Law of 1933; in Germany, the Law of 1884; in England, the law of 1887; in France the Law of 1898; in Belgium and the Netherlands, the Law of 1903; and in Spain, the law of 1990.

National situation

In the eighties, a crisis in the social security systems became evident both in developed countries as well as in developing countries; Germany, France, Italy, Greece and Belgium at the end of the decade and beginning of this one began to search for solutions by combining various alternatives that would permit increasing contributions, raising the pensionable age, cutting benefits from the system and reducing government contributions. In Latin America during the nineties, various reforms were proposed that struggled between the principles of solidarity and capitalization; in terms of the latter, Chile?s reform of social benefits in the early eighties was illustrative.

In part three of Law 100 of 1993, the legislator sets out some dispositions to direct this system and in article 139-11, the President was empowered, for a period of six months as of the publication of the Law, to pass the regulations required to organize and regulate the system throughout the national territory.

In order to exercise these powers, Decree 1295 of 1994 was passed to define and clarify the purpose of the system:

Definition: The Worker?s Compensation General Program is the group of public and private entities, laws and procedures that are intended to prevent, protect and assist workers in the event of illness and accidents that may occur during or as a result of the work they carry out.