Where would business and labor be without workers’ compensation?
(August 9, 2011 – Madison, Wis.) – This year, Wisconsin celebrates the 100 year anniversary of workers’ compensation, becoming the first state to enact such a law. This landmark legislation created a safety net to support injured workers and their employers when tragedy struck, and was a major turning point for social insurance in the U.S. Before workers’ compensation, a worker could be fired after being injured on the job, with no recourse except to sue the employer and hope to win. This antiquated system provided little incentive for employers to improve working conditions, and injured workers were often left in the cold with no paycheck while trying to recover and support a family.
Work is rewarding, motivating, and healthy for most individuals, providing a sense of purpose. The ability of workers’ compensation to support injured workers throughout their recovery process is critical, the system has been designed to facilitate return to work and restore this sense of purpose. We must remember the human side of this social insurance program, which is often lost in a mire of administration and regulation.
So how does workers’ compensation impact employers and employees? Following are a few stories about workers injured on the job:
An employee slipped on an egg while working at a school kitchen, and then had a second injury slipping on frost at work. The insurer’s case manager suggested that the employer require employees to wear non-skid shoes, which has prevented future injuries.
One worker had the tip of his finger amputated in a manufacturing job. While he was recuperating, his physician was reluctant to release him back to work, but the worker’s supervisor was so busy, he asked if the employee could at least come back to help troubleshoot and provide directions to fellow workers. The owner of the company was not supportive of return to work, but after the supervisor pleaded, the employee returned to work. In the end, everyone was pleased with the result.
A trucker was hauling an 18-wheeler of gasoline. All 8,500 gallons exploded, and the trucker had burns over 60% of his body. Following the accident, he was able to concentrate his energy on recuperating rather than wondering where money would come from to pay his mortgage or grocery bills. He has been able to recover from his massive injury physically and mentally because of the support he received through workers’ compensation.
Without workers’ compensation to take care of these workers when they were injured, where would they be? One hundred years later, the answer to this question is why workers’ compensation continues to be one of the most accepted social insurance programs in the world.
In commemoration of 100 years of workers’ compensation in the U.S., the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions is holding a special Workers’ Compensation Centennial Celebration day at its 97th Annual Convention on Wednesday, August 24. As a part of the Celebration, the IAIABC will hold a dramatic re-enactment to recognize the workers and employers who worked tirelessly over 2 years to create this new system of injury
compensation, paving the way toward improved working conditions and a safety net for all workers.
To learn more about the IAIABC Annual Convention, visit http://www.iaiabc.org/convention2011 A special thank you to Encore Unlimited LLC for providing two of the worker stories. Visit http://www.encoreunlimited.com to learn more about their work in disability management.
About the IAIABC
The IAIABC is an association of government agencies that administer and regulate their jurisdiction’s workers’ compensation acts. Along with these government entities, various private organizations involved in the delivery of workers’ compensation coverage and benefits participate in the IAIABC. Since its inception in 1914 the IAIABC has worked to improve and clarify laws, identify model laws and procedures, develop and implement standards, and provide education and information sharing. The IAIABC strives to gather the best resources available to solve the practical administrative and operational problems of its members.
Heather Lore, IAIABC Manager of Membership and Marketing Phone: +1 865-247-6585 Email: [email protected]