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Reports of accidents, also, have been incomplete and lacking in uniformity, so that little material of a reliable nature has been available. Here, too, the influence of compensation enactments has been felt, even in the brief period covered by their existence. Accurate reporting and analysis of accidents as to causes, nature of injury, and length of disability, are absolutely essential, not only for effective accident prevention work, but for the establishment of just and adequate insurance rates. Although considerable improvement has been accomplished since the enactment of compensation laws the problem of accident reporting and prevention has by no means been solved: Just what the quantitative effect of workmen's compensation laws upon accident reduction has been is still problematical, due to the absence of uniform and reliable statistics and the lack of a proper method of measuring industrial hazards. The committee on statistics and compensation insurance cost of the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions has recently issued a report 48 in which it has formulated standard accident tables and recommended the adoption of a schedule of severity ratings to measure industrial hazards. Statistical reports issued by certain manufacturing establishments and State industrial accident commissions have shown marked decreases in accident frequency rates, especially after the adoption of safety organization methods, but a critical analysis of these reports shows that this reduction was limited largely to minor or short-time disability accidents.
That the increased safety activities have resulted in accident reduc tion would seem probable, but the extent and nature of reduction can only be surmised. There are relatively more accidents reported to-day than there were five years ago, but this does not mean necessarily that accident rates have increased. It may be simply that more accidents are reported than formerly.
The principal requirements of each State as to accident reporting and prevention are shown in the chart following page 130. Five of the compensation acts 49 make no provision for accident reporting and nearly all make no provision for accident-prevention work.
It will be noted that the provisions as to accident reporting lack uniformity. Only 20 States 50 require all accidents to be reported, while nine States 51 require only those of one day's disability or more ;
Published in the Monthly Review, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for October, 1917, pp. 123–143. Alaska, Arizona, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Tennessee.
50 California (involving time loss or medical aid), Colorado, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusett», Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Porto Rico, Sout Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
$1 One day's disability, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, and Vermont (also injuries requiring medical aid); more than one day, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, and Texas.
one 52 requires those of more than two days of disability; threes require those of more than one week; three 54 require those of over two weeks; and four 55 provide that such accidents be reported as are required by the commissioner or inspector. Five States,56 as already noted, make no provision for accident reporting in the compensation act, but have such laws outside the act. Of these States, Alaska provides for the reporting of such mining accidents as the governor may require; Arizona requires only serious or fatal accidents in mines to be reported; Louisiana requires the reporting of accidents of two weeks' disability or more in establishments where women and children are employed; New Mexico requires the reporting of all fatal accidents in mines; and Tennessee requires all mine accidents to be reported immediately to the chief mine inspector and all serious accidents in mills and factories to the bureau of workshops and factory inspection.
Of the 40 States providing for accident reporting in the compensation law, in 25 57 all employers are required to report accidents; in 1258 employers subject to the compensation act; in Wisconsin only employers having four or more employees; in Wyoming only those engaged in extrahazardous employments; while in Nebraska such reports of accidents shall be made as directed by the compensation commissioner.
In the 34 States having administrative commissions, accidents are required to be reported to such commissions, except in Pennsylvania, where the compensation act is administered jointly by the workmen's compensation board and the department of labor and industry. Several States have more than one accident-reporting law, due in some instances to the failure to repeal the existing law when the compensation act was passed. In such cases the old law is usually not enforced. Then again in those States in which the compensation act requires only employers subject to the act to report accidents there usually exist other accident-reporting laws providing that such employers as are included within its scope must report their accidents to other State departments. Such laws, in most States, however, are not enforced at all, or at least are enforced ineffectively.
53 Illinois, Missouri (also those requiring medical aid), and Virginia.
64 Alabama, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
65 Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and West Virginia.
66 Alaska, Arizona, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Tennessee.
67 California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota (employers engaged in industrial pursuits), Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania (except casual employments), Porto Rico, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.
58 Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island (except public utilities), South Dakota, and Vermont.
Accident reporting and accident prevention are closely related. In fact, effective prevention of accidents depends largely upon a knowledge of their causes, frequency, and nature. A compensation commission, in the very nature of things, must receive reports of all compensable injuries, and that it is the only agency which does receive them is shown by experience. Furthermore, the problem of accident prevention is intimately connected with the whole theory and system of compensation. It would seem, therefore, that this important work might logically be undertaken by the same agency that administers the compensation provisions. As a matter of fact, however, the practice of a large majority of the States has been in the opposite direction, as is shown by an examination of the chart.
It will be noted that of the 34 States having the commission type of administration, 18 59 make no provision for accident-prevention work by the compensation commission. In 6 States 60 the commission is authorized to perform some safety work, but, with the exception of Colorado and Idaho, this power is very slight. In Colorado the commission has jurisdiction over all places of employment for the purpose of enforcing the safety statutes, but thus far the accident prevention work has been carried on by other agencies. This leaves only 10 States 1 in which all the safety work is done by the industrial commission. In fact, in all but three of these States 62 the entire body of labor laws is enforced by this one agency.
Thus far the principal features of the various compensation laws have been treated as individual units. In order to obtain a concise but comprehensive view of the relative importance or adequacy of the entire law in each of the several States it has been deemed advisable to bring together briefly in tabular form a summary of the most important features. These principal provisions include the percentage of employees covered, money benefits received, medical service, waiting period, percentage of wages, and weekly maximum and minimum compensation. It is impossible for the purpose of this study to work out an absolutely accurate comparison of the relative compensation benefits of the several States. However, as a fair indication of all of the compensation benefits, four typical items or injuries have been taken: (1) Death, (2) loss of major hand at the
69 Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, Porto Rico, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
California, Indiana, Montana (except mines and boilers), New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
California, Montana, and North Dakota.
wrist, (3) total disability for a period of 4 weeks, and (4) total disability for a period of 13 weeks. The waiting period was deducted in computing the benefits for both of the disability items and for the loss of the hand in case compensation for temporary total disability was provided by law.
The example taken was that of a married man, 35 years of age, receiving $21 a week, and having a dependent wife, 30 years of age, and three normal dependent children, 3, 6, and 9 years of age. In computing the life expectancy of the injured man or his widow the American experience table of mortality was used.
The maximum benefits in each case have been given. The amounts computed for death include burial expenses where such are provided by law. It has been assumed that the loss of the hand resulted in a total disability of 26 weeks and a subsequent partial disability of 50 per cent for life. Several States have no schedules of specified injuries, and in such States the compensation for loss of the hand has been based upon the given percentage of wages for the given number of weeks limited by the maximum amounts. In such States, together with those States which provide for a continuing partial disability in addition to the specified scale, both compensations have been given; i. e., compensation for total disability only and compensation for total plus partial disability. Compensation for total disability during the healing period has been included in the amounts given for those States which provide for such benefits. For the totaldisability accidents, as already noted, the waiting period in each case has been taken into consideration and deducted from the amount of the compensation.
It has been the purpose to take an example which would be most typical of all States and conditions. It is admittedly true that the specific example and the four items taken will result in a higher scale for some of the States than would have resulted had a different example been taken or had the whole scale of compensation benefits been considered. For example, compensation for the death of a married man with three children would result favorably for such States as Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington, New York, and West Virginia, which pay compensation until the death or remarriage of the widow. The medical benefits were not taken into consideration in computing the money benefits for the cases cited. This provision is considered separately. For Oregon 10 per cent has been deducted from each of the compensation amounts. This 10 per cent represents the employees' contributions, each employee being required by law to contribute 1 cent for each working day to the accident fund. As a matter of fact the employees' contributions have amounted to somewhat less than 10 per cent. Perhaps it would seem unfair to Oregon to deduct this 10 per cent, because for individual injuries the whole
amount of compensation is received. But, on the other hand, the employees must regularly contribute their share, and the resultant effect will be the same.
In computing the money benefits no account has been taken of the present value of such benefits. A fixed lump sum paid outright at the time of the injury of course exceeds the present worth of the same amount paid in weekly installments over a period of years. In comparing the computed benefits, therefore, it is necessary to take this fact into consideration.
In estimating the "per cent of employees subject to act" as given in the table, all employees in employments covered by the compensation law are included, assuming that all employers who may elect to come under the act have made such election. The figures, therefore, show the maximum possible inclusions under existing law.