The History Of Workers Compensation And Benefits

No company can run without employees. Keeping workers happy is essential to motivate them to perform to their full potential. Better working efficiency leads to higher production and increased profitability. So, any company’s present and future prospects are directly related to the well-being of employees. For these reasons, employers compensate workers for their efforts and injuries that may occur in due course of their duties. Compensation isn’t a new concept and has its origins in the past too. A quick look at the history of workers compensation and benefits can be handy when framing your policies. Let’s find out more about the subject.

History of workers’ compensation

One of the earliest episodes of workers’ compensation dates back to 2050 BC. Law in ancient Sumeria would reimburse workers for injuries sustained at the place of work. Similar laws were in practice in ancient China, Greece, and other parts of the world. In Arabic nations, workers were compensated based on the extent of injuries. For example, if a worker sustained injuries on his ear, he would receive an amount based on the injured surface area.

Workers compensation after the industrial revolution

Before the industrial revolution, injuries were minimal. The reason – Heavy machines weren’t used in manufacturing processes. Most of the work was done by hand or wood-based systems. So, the likelihood of workplace injuries was less.

The situation changed drastically after the industrial revolution. Iron and steel machines were used for manufacturing. Also, production increased multiple times. However, safety measures weren’t in place during that period. The focus was on using machines for production, not workers’ safety.

So, the likelihood of injuries increased multiple times. Also, most of the work was carried out in cramped places. Some factories were instituted in poorly ventilated areas. Exposure to toxic chemicals and injuries was higher. During that period, workers had to depend on the court system to get compensated for their pain and injuries.

However, that was rare as no sure-fire law protecting workers was in place. Additionally, employers would use the contributory negligence law, the fellow servant doctrine, and the assumption of risk law to avoid liability. Due to these laws, workers would hardly get anything for their injuries.

Workers compensation history during the 19th century

By the end of the 18th century, workers united against their pain and injuries. They formed their communities to raise their concerns. Also, many countries formulated laws in this direction. Popular examples include the employers’ liability law of 1874, the public aid act, and the workers’ accident insurance of 1884.

At the beginning of the 20th century, countries started advocating for strong workers’ compensation laws. The aim was to ensure the well-being of employees. Also, nations enacted laws to protect workers against getting fired for raising voices.

Today, we’ve extremely strong laws to handle any situation concerning workplace injuries. Plus, media and social platforms are in place to make up for any shortcomings. Yet, the roots of modern regulations date back to the history of workers compensation and benefits thereon.

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