Celebrating the 100th anniversary of workers’ compensation laws, many workers are reminded how fortunate we are to have the protection and compensation provided today. Knowing the history of workers’ compensation, it becomes quite apparent that workers today have access to resources and benefits unheard of one hundred years ago. While it remains important to acknowledge and even be thankful for the protection and benefits afforded by modern day workers’ compensation, the system is not without flaws.
The Valley Advocate recently published a news story titled “Work at Your Own Risk“. In this article is the story of Patrice Woeppel who went from a healthcare worker to an advocate for the reform of the workers’ compensation system. Despite the many progresses we have seen within the system there remains many points of contention between providers, insurance companies and claimants.
In Woeppel’s book, Depraved Indifference: The Workers’ Compensation System, Woeppel addresses many of the concerns regarding the workers’ compensation system to include workers who are injured or even killed on the job yet they or their families have to fight to receive the compensation to which they are entitled. As reported in Work at Your Own Risk, “The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, lacks both the funds and the power to be as effective as it should be, Woeppel says. And when workers do get injured or sick, the mechanism created to help them-the workers’ compensation system-too often lets them down, favoring deep-pocketed corporations over the best interests of their employees, she charges.”
At this critical point in the history of workers’ compensation, a closer look at how far we have come and where we are heading appears to be in order.