Monday is Labor Day. Most of us will enjoy the extra day off, but Labor Day weekend is also a time to reflect on the evolution of workplace safety protections in this country, including the introduction of workers’ compensation benefits when an employee gets hurt on the job.
Ohio’s modern workers’ compensation system is relatively recent, dating back to 1911. Before that, a person injured in the course of his or her work duties could only sue his or her employer for compensation. Workers who were able to sue failed around 80 percent of the time, a journal article from the University of Akron explains. Employers had many defenses at their disposal, including contributory negligence, assumption of the risk and the fellow servant rule. These defenses hold the injured worker responsible for his or her own injuries, either totally or in part.