Thursday, March 14, 2013

Honoring 100 Years of Fulfilling Our Promise to Injured Workers and Ohio Employers

The Industrial Commission of Ohio is an agency founded on a promise.

In the second decade of the 1900s, 45 states first enacted general laws governing the conduct of workers’ compensation.

At this time, a promise was made that a no-fault system of compensating a worker or his family for his injury, occupational disease, or death casualty related to his job would be paid by his industry. In exchange, employees would forgo their right to sue their employers for work-related injuries by pursuing statutorily prescribed compensation as an exclusive remedy.

The promise, created a century ago, resulted in a workers’ compensation system that provides the workers with a faster and less expensive procedure for receiving benefits while the employer received immunity from a full-liability tort action in court. One hundred years ago on March 12, the Ohio General Assembly enacted that promise by passing a law mandating workers’ compensation coverage for Ohio employers.

Two days later, Governor James M. Cox sat in his office at the Ohio Statehouse, surrounded by IC Chairman Wallace D. Yaple, Commissioners T. J. Duffy and William Archer, Ohio Senator William Green, and former Governor James Campbell. The group watched Governor Cox sign the 1913 workers’ compensation bill into law. At that moment, the Industrial Commission of Ohio was officially created.

A year later, in a 1914 Commission newsletter, Chairman Yaple wrote: “Two years experience under the elective Workmen's Compensation Act of 1911, and five months experience under the compulsory act of 1913, demonstrates the superiority of the new system of caring for work accidents over the old system of employers’ liability laws, with their resulting vexatious and expensive litigation. The new system is better for the employee because, while the amount of compensation paid is limited and fixed in amount, it is certain, and compensation is payable for every injury and for every death where persons are left wholly or partially dependent upon the deceased employee. It is better for society at large, because under its operation a vast sum of money is saved that was expended under the old system in the way of court costs, jury and witness fees, and for caring for those who had been incapacitated on account of injuries and as a result thereof became public charges.”

Below is a timeline that tells the story of the Industrial Commission of Ohio:

1885 — First state effort to arbitrate industrial disputes occurs when the General Assembly creates voluntary tribunals for settlement of industrial accident disagreements between employers and their employees.
1893 — State Board of Arbitration and Conciliation is established and consists of three members, one representing employees, one representing employers, and the third party being neutral.
1911 — The Ohio Workmen’s Compensation Act creates a voluntary workers’ compensation plan for employers. State Liability Board of Awards is created to administer the law.
1911 — Wallace D. Yaple, T. J. Duffy, and Morris Woodhull become the first members of the State Liability Board of Awards.
1912 — Ohio establishes the State Insurance Fund on March 1, 1912.
1913 — Ohio General Assembly enacts a law mandating workers’ compensation coverage for Ohio employers on March 12, 1913. The signing of the 1913 workers’ compensation bill took place in the office of Governor James M. Cox on March 14, 1913. On this day, the Industrial Commission of Ohio officially replaces the State Liability Board of Awards.
1913 — Lemuel C. Fridley receives the first workmen’s compensation check on April 28.
1915 — In Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of Ohio, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that films were not part of the "press" and therefore not entitled to First Amendment protection. The case upholds a censorship board, which was placed under the Industrial Commission’s supervision in 1913, to review and censor films in Ohio.
1921 — The Department of Industrial Relations is created and the Industrial Commission becomes part of the department, but the purpose of the Commission is still to hear and adjudicate contested, workers’ compensation claims.
1925 — The Division of Safety and Hygiene is established to help prevent industrial accidents and occupational diseases through development of safety standards and programs.
1935 — The Industrial Commission is separated from the Department of Industrial Relations to become an independent agency.
1955 — The Ohio Bureau of Workmen’s Compensation is created by the Ohio General Assembly. BWC begins administering the workers’ compensation system.
1956 — The Ohio Supreme Court upholds the constitutionally of the establishment of BWC and the division of duties between the BWC and IC.
1963 — As the Director of the Ohio Department of Industrial Relations, William Walker becomes the first African-American cabinet member in the history of Ohio.
1979 — The Industrial Commission establishes its Rehabilitation Division.
1983 — Industrial Commission is comprised of five, not three, members.
1990 — Industrial Commission begins to move into the William Green Building.
1993 — House Bill 107 becomes law, making numerous changes to Ohio’s workers’ compensation system.
2013 — March 14, 2013 marks the IC’s 100th anniversary of serving Ohio’s employers and injured workers.

A timeline poster has been designed to honor the IC's 100 years. It will be displayed in all of the offices.

To view the full sized poster click on the link below:
Industrial Commission's 100 Years Timeline Poster
(Adobe Acrobat Reader is needed to view the file)