Editor's note: For more than a decade, Risk & Insurance® magazine has bestowed an award on private-sector corporations and public entities in honor of their workers' compensation programs, with the intention of highlighting some of the industry's best practices.
Last spring, the editors and the publisher decided to rename the award program after former president Theodore Roosevelt in honor of his contributions to provide for the well-being of working Americans.
Winners of the Theodore Roosevelt Workers' Compensation and Disability Management Award will be recognized in the November issue of the magazine and at the 14th Annual National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo in Chicago in November.
The Theodore Roosevelt Workers' Compensation and Disability Management Award honors a company and a government or nonprofit organization for their efforts to reduce the frequency and severity of injuries to workers.
The award, renamed this year, honors the former president who in 1908 introduced and promoted the first piece of important workers' comp legislation in the United States.
We seek to find those companies with innovative programs that show strong, tangible results.
The key criteria that an organization's program must demonstrate include performance, teamwork, results and communication.
The most heavily weighted factor is performance. An important challenge needs to be addressed with documented performance in meeting that challenge. We look at the environment in which the organization operates, the difficulty it faces, its degree of success and the credibility of any documentation provided.
Judges will look to see how easily a program considered a success at one company can be transferred to another company. This so-called transferability is a combination of the frequency in which other employers experience the same challenge, plus the relative ease of others' ability to draw upon the experience.
Employers will also be judged on their programs' ability to forge and maintain a team involving employees and, possibly, outside vendors. Evaluation of the team ranking considers breadth of knowledge and skills, and the stability and skill in overcoming special obstacles.
Employers will be judged, as well, by their ability to articulate a clear and ambitious vision for their workers' comp program, much in the spirit of Roosevelt when he pressured Congress to pass the Federal Employers' Liability Act.
The award ceremony will take place at a luncheon Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2005, during the 14th Annual National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo. The award ceremony is sponsored by Specialty Risk Services.
The 2003 winners were, in the private-sector category, International Business Machines and, in the public sector, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, which operates commuter trains and buses in Philadelphia and its suburbs.
Runners-up were, in the private sector, Dollar Tree Stores and, in the public sector, the city of Little Rock, Ark.
Winners last year were, in the private sector, Dollar Tree Stores and, in the public sector, the Florida State Hospitals.
All entries must be received by Risk & Insurance®by Aug. 15, 2005. Submissions should be sent to: Roosevelt Award Competition, Risk & Insurance, 747 Dresher Rd., Suite 500, Horsham, PA 19044. For any questions about the contest or the entry material, please call Jack Roberts, editor-in-chief, Risk & Insurance®, (215) 784-0910, ext. 6314.
ROOSEVELT AND FELA
The Federal Employers' Liability Act, enacted by Congress in 1908 at the urging of President Theodore Roosevelt, provided benefits for railroad workers who sustained injuries while they were employed.
"The railroad industry was a very dangerous industry from the time it was created in the mid-1800s until FELA came along," says Mo Morrow, director of communications for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, a Teamsters-affiliated union representing about 50,000 current and retired railroad employees. "What the act did was make it very expensive for railroads to not improve the safety of the railroad environment."
FELA entitled injured railroad workers to recover not only the time or wages lost, but also all of the expenses for medical treatment, for pain and suffering, and for any permanent injury, whether partial or total. If the worker was killed on the job, survivors were entitled to recover all damages.
"I think it's a very necessary law affecting safety and the railroad workplace, and it's important," says Morrow. He also called FELA a "precedent-setting" law.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act protecting workers injured on the "navigable waters of the United States," and the Jones Act, protecting workers offshore, soon followed in the wake of FELA.
FELA was not the first law to protect workers, but it was one of the most influential, coming as it did, in the wake of the industrial revolution and the brutal demands imposed on the working classes. Many workers injured on the job, where safety measures did not exist, were often paid nothing.
"He (Roosevelt) kind of shamed Congress into passing that," says Lloyd Harger, an insurance specialist with the Florida Division of Workers' Compensation.
"He was, in my opinion, the father of modern-day workers' comp in the United States," Harger adds.
For Roosevelt, the law was an attempt to equalize the playing field between rich and poor, black and white, great and small.
"I stand for the square deal," said Roosevelt in his 1910 speech known as "The New Nationalism." "When I say that I am for a square deal, I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under the present rules of the game, but that I stand for having those rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of opportunity and of reward for equally good service."
"Teddy Roosevelt was really far ahead of his time as far as diversity was concerned," Harger says. "The man was wide open for having been born with a silver spoon so to speak."
With FELA, accident victims and their families had a basic insurance coverage floor on which they could rely. But beyond that, perhaps FELA's most lasting impact was to open the gateway for the states to adopt their own workers' compensation laws.
In 1911, Wisconsin was the first state to adopt a workers' compensation law. That same year, 10 more states enacted workers' compensation laws.
By 1948, every state had adopted some form of mandatory compensation for on-the-job accidents.
CYRIL TUOHY is managing editor of RIsk & Insurance®.
August 1, 2005
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