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An overview workers' compensation, work
related injuries, and construction accidents.
Workers' Compensation laws are
designed to ensure that employees who are injured or disabled
on the job are provided with fixed monetary awards, eliminating
the need for litigation. These laws also provide benefits for
dependents of those workers who are killed because of work-related
accidents or illnesses. Some laws also protect employers and fellow
workers by limiting the amount an injured employee can recover
from an employer and by eliminating the liability of co-workers
in most accidents. State Workers Compensation
statutes establish this framework for most employment. Federal
Workers Compensation statutes are limited to federal
employees or those workers employed in some significant aspect
of interstate commerce.
The Federal Employment Compensation Act provides
workers compensation for non-military, federal employees. Many
of its provisions are typical of most worker compensation laws.
Awards are limited to "disability or death" sustained
while in the performance of the employee's duties but not caused
willfully by the employee or by intoxication. The act covers medical
expenses due to the disability and may require the employee to
undergo job retraining. A disabled employee receives two thirds
of his or her normal monthly salary during the disability and
may receive more for permanent physical injuries, or if he or
she has dependents. The act provides compensation for survivors
of employees who are killed. The act is administered by the Office
of workers Compensation Programs.
The Federal Employment Liability Act (FELA),
while not a workers compensation statute, provides that railroads
engaged in interstate commerce are liable for injuries to their
employees if they have been negligent.
The Merchant Marine Act (the Jones Act) provides seamen with
the same protection from employer negligence as FELA provides
Congress enacted the Longshore and Harbor workers Compensation
Act (LHWCA) to provide workers compensation to specified employees
of private maritime employers. The Office of workers Compensation
Programs administers the act.
The Black Lung Benefits Act provides compensation for miners
suffering from "black lung" (pneumoconiosis). The Act
requires liable mine operators to pay disability payments and
establishes a fund administered by the Secretary of Labor providing
disability payments to miners where the mine operator is unknown
or unable to pay. The Office of workers Compensation Programs
regulates the administration of the act.
California's workers Compensation Act provides an example of
a comprehensive state compensation program. It is applicable to
most employers. The statute limits the liability of the employer
and fellow employees. California also requires employers to obtain
insurance to cover potential workers compensation claims, and
sets up a fund for claims that employers have illegally failed
to insure against.
Workers Compensation, payment made to employees by employers,
in accordance with statutory provisions, for injuries and disabilities
incurred in the course of employment.
II HISTORY In many countries, prior to the enactment of legislation
compelling employers to insure their employees for any injuries
sustained in the course of their employment, the employee had
the right only to bring a legal action against the employer to
obtain damages for such injuries. The employee had to prove that
he or she was not responsible for the accident, that no fellow
worker was responsible, and that the accident was not a normal
risk of the industry; the worker also had to prove the nature
and extent of the injury. The result was that only a small proportion
of injuries was ever compensated, with consequent serious social
effects on injured workers and their families.
About the middle of the 19th century, agitation developed for
a program of compulsory compensation of injured employees by employers
whether or not the employee was in any way responsible for the
accident. The earliest compulsory accident-insurance law was that
enacted by Germany in 1884; Britain followed in 1897, and the
U.S. in 1908. Today some form of compulsory workers compensation
is in force in practically all industrialized countries; in the
U.S. the federal government and every state have enacted compensation
III COVERAGE Under workers compensation legislation, scales of
compensation are established for accidental injuries arising out
of and in the course of employment, without regard to the party
responsible for the accident. The scope of coverage varies in
the different jurisdictions with respect to benefits payable in
case of death, of total disability, and of partial disability
due to specific injuries or continuing during specified periods.
Administrative requirements compel the reporting of all accidents
to a public board that is charged with the responsibility for
making compensation awards to workers injured or, in case of death,
to their families. In recent years, state workers compensation
statutes have been broadened to provide for coverage of occupational
diseases (see Occupational and Environmental Diseases).
In many states the compensation laws are not compulsory but elective-that
is, the employer may elect to be governed by the provisions of
the act. An employer electing not to be so governed cannot assert
as a defense to an action for damages that the employee's negligence
was a contributory factor, or that the accident was due to the
actions of a fellow employee, or that the accident was a normal
risk of the business.
Compensation protection places a high charge on the operating
costs of industry. Stringent safety programs instituted by the
major corporations have nevertheless failed to stop the rise in
industrial accident rates. In a recent year, it was estimated
that industrial accidents cost U.S. manufacturers more than $11
Work Related Accidents
- Work Injury - Construction Accidents
Accident (work related accident), unintended and unforeseen event,
usually resulting in personal injury or property damage. In law,
the term is usually limited to events not involving negligence,
that is, the carelessness or misconduct of a party involved, or
to a loss caused by lightning, floods, or other natural events
Act of God. In popular usage, however, the term accident designates
an unexpected event, especially if it causes injury or damage
without reference to the negligence or fault of an individual.
The basic causes of such accidents are, in general, unsafe conditions
of machinery, equipment, or surroundings, and the unsafe actions
of persons that are caused by ignorance or neglect of safety principles.
II PREVENTION OF ACCIDENTS Organized efforts for the prevention
of accidents began in the 19th century with the adoption of factory-inspection
laws, first in Britain and then in the United States and other
countries Factory System. Fire insurance and accident insurance
companies made efforts to enforce safety rules and to educate
the public. Factory inspectors and inspectors from fire insurance
and casualty insurance companies carried on a campaign against
unsafe conditions and actions, and at the beginning of the 20th
century a new branch of engineering developed, devoted to finding
and eliminating such hazards Industrial Safety.
Laws concerning workers compensation were passed in Germany in
1884, Britain in 1897, and the United States in 1908. By placing
on the employer the financial burden of caring for injured workers,
such laws created an incentive for providing safe machinery and
working conditions and for improved selection and training of
employees. In the U.S., the National Safety Council was formed
in 1913; this noncommercial organization has since been a leader
in accident-prevention activities, especially in the publication
of educational literature, the compilation of statistics, and
the coordination of the work of schools, clubs, industrial organizations,
and state and municipal agencies.
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