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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Occupy Wall Street And The Future Of Workers Compensation


The same social/economic forces  present on streets of New York City over a century go, are now re-emerging in the birth of the Occupy Wall Street [OWS] movement. The workers, unions and concerned citizens that are are patriotically seeking to again balance the  social/economic system mirror the century old movement and aspirations that its genesis in the Triangle Shirt Waist tragedy. This time the inspiration generated may evolve into a new and creative system to prevent workplace injuries and compensation. The new system maybe target entirely  to safety and prevention rather than solely compensating for injuries and exposures sustained at work.

Over a century ago the failure of employers to protect workers’ health and safety resulted in the tragedy of the Triangle Shirt Waist factory fire. Following that fatal conflagration emanated the promulgation of the modern day workers’ compensation system. It arose out of frustration and anger and was displayed in the street.

The recent efforts to dismantle the national network of workers’ compensation systems through legislation and regulation has effectively rendered the system both costly to navigate and burdensome to obtain benefits. Efforts have been made to make it more difficult to establish a claim. Occupational disease claims once considered compensable are not being denied and litigated on a regular basis.

The present workers’ compensation system has been emasculated by the competing efforts of Industry to reduce access to benefits at earlier stages of the process, and by a transformed industrial/economic system.  Soaring medical costs necessitated by the need to provide personalized medical treatment protocols to cure for complex diseases are raging havoc to the program. Medical  costs have soared and insurance carriers are continuing to raise rates. The 99% that constitutes the core group of the Occupy Wall Street movement is either unemployed or disabled and unable to work.  They seek good jobs which are safe, and medical benefits that are effectively and efficiently delivered.

Counting failure is no longer an option. Jobs that injury workers and a system that delays and denies benefits for injuries and exposures at work, is not beneficial to nation, its Industry and workers. Hopefully American creativity will give birth to a new system, and the Occupy Wall Street movement will be that catalyst. 

For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman  1.973.696.7900  jon@gelmans.com have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.