first state to pass a workmen’s compensation law.
Instead of requiring injured workers to sue for
damages and prove employer negligence, the new
law automatically compensated all injuries at a
fixed rate. Compensation appealed to businesses
because it made costs more predictable and reduced
labor strife. Between 1911 and 1921, forty-four
states passed compensation laws. In 1923, the
National Council on Compensation Insurance
(NCCI) was founded to foster a healthy workers’
The sharp rise in accident costs that resulted
from compensation laws and tighter employers’
liability helped to initiate the long-term decline
in workplace accidents and injuries. Large firms
in hazardous industries now became interested in
safety. Machine guarding improved and machinery
makers developed safer designs. Managers began
to look for hidden dangers at work and required
workers to wear hard hats and safety glasses. Safety
departments and safety committees that included
both workers and managers became more common.
Changes in technology and labor markets also
contributed to safety as well. After World War II,
newly powerful labor unions played an increasingly
important role in work safety.
BY: ERIC P. WOKAS, CSP ARM
RISK CONTROL CONSULTANT
Eric Wokas has over 25 years of experience
as a risk management consultant working
for various major property/casualty
insurance carriers including Continental,
Zurich and Gerling as well as Aon an
international insurance brokerage firm.
At JGS Insurance Eric continues to assist
clients in development and implementation
of practical solutions in reducing risk.
Yet the pattern of improvement was uneven. Safety
still deteriorated in times of economic boom when
factories were at capacity. Small companies did
not have incentives to reduce risk because they
paid essentially the same compensation insurance
premium irrespective of their accident rate, so the
new laws had little effect. Eventually, insurance
companies developed experience modifications to
take into account the insured’s size and accident rate.
Once again, in the 1960's, economic expansion
led to rising injury rates. In 1970, the resulting
political pressures led Congress to establish the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health
Administration (MSHA). These agencies’
effectiveness has been controversial, but on balance,
they have contributed to the continuing reductions
in work injury rates.
Today, many of our modern day workplace safety
practices and regulations are taken for granted. We
should reflect on the many disasters and deaths,
and the dedication of those that strived for better
working conditions. Over the past 100 years, JGS
has assisted our clients to achieve a safe and healthy
workplace, and our dedicated staff will continue to
assist our clients in meeting the challenges for the
next 100 years. +
We partner with our clients to understand their unique needs.
With over 100 years of experience in workers’ compensation
and risk management, we do everything with a singular focus:
bringing tangible value to your business.