Risk & Business Magazine JGS Insurance Winter 2019 - Page 29

WORKPLACE SAFETY 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’ compensation system 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 JGS INSURANCE 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. + Specialized Insurance. Unmatched Expertise. 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. pmacompanies.com 29