Summary

The basis for this article is a report published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Compensation for Accidents to Employees of the United States - Report of Operations under the Act of May 30, 1908, Bulletin 155, September 17, 1914. The main content of this report is deceiving because the report gives page after page of statistical data. Its greatest value to safety and health history lies in its explanation of how compensation for federal workers injured on the job came about.

Most discussions about the introduction of workmen’s compensation (now called workers’ compensation) law in the United States suggests that the first enforceable law occurred in 1911 in Wisconsin. The same year nine other states passed similar laws.

However, the U.S. Congress passed “an act granting to certain employees of the United States the right to receive from it compensation for injuries sustained in the course of their employment.” That law went into effect on August 1, 1908. The version in place today is known as the Federal Employees Compensation Act. It was a pioneering measure. This law influenced several state laws that went into effect later. By the time the government published the above-referenced report, 24 states had implemented some form of workers’ compensation.

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