In 1914, 146 people, mainly women, including girls under 12 years old, died in a fire at The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York State. This caused public outrage and led to a revision of the law relating to the employment of labour and of improvements to workplace health and safety requirements. From that point the rights of workers across the USA to be compensated should they be injured or become ill as a direct result of their employment was enshrined in law.
The new york workers compensation board was established in the aftermath of the Shirtwaist Factory fire to protect the rights of both employees and employers. Today the headquarters of the new york workers compensation board are situated at 328 State Street, Schenectady New York 12305-2318 and it employs 1,500 workers across 10 district offices and service centres. The Board itself comprises 13 commissioners, each appointed for a 7 year tenure by the State Governor, ratified by the New York State Senate.
Unless an employee is under the influence of alcohol, drugs or another illegal substance, workers' compensation operates on a no-fault basis; awards are not reduced because of the employee's negligence. Neither are they increased if the employer is at fault. The new york workers compensation board seeks to protect employees by ensuring compensation is paid at the correct rate over an appropriate period of time and ensures that, when necessary, medical care can be accessed immediately. The Board's also protects employers from litigation and its fraud arm from spurious claims.
Workers make no payment towards the insurance policies from which workers' compensation is paid; employers are wholly responsible and New York State Law requires all employers in the state to obtain insurance from a provider recognised by New York State Department of Financial Services, the body responsible for authorising insurers to provide workers' compensation insurance and administrating underwriting provisions. The new york workers compensation board works to make sure that employers are compliant with these requirements by maintaining a data base with details of employers and their insurance providers. It also provides training, enforces compliance through a team of inspectors who can issue Stop Work Orders and other notices where insurance requirements are not met, imposes penalties when employers fail to keep records properly and issues judgements. Businesses or other parties applying for a government permit, license or contract must submit documentation to the new york workers compensation board to prove they are compliant with New York State workers' compensation and disability requirements.
Payments for an injury or illness can be in cash or/and for the provision of medical treatment, including the cost of any diagnostic tests, prescription drugs and medication, consequent to the work related injury or illness. No cash payment is made for the first 7 days, although if payments exceed 14 days, arrears for the first 7 days may be paid. The amount is determined as follows:
2/3 average weekly wage x % of disability = weekly benefit.
Maximum benefit awards amount changes on 1st July each year based on the average wage in New York State in the previous calendar year.
Excepting emergencies, the health care provider must be authorised by the Board. The law requires insurers to contract with the New York State Health Department Preferred Provider Organisation and ill or injured workers must seek initial treatment from such a provider, although 30 days after initial treatment they can engage a different, authorised provider.
If due to their accident or illness an employee is unable to return to their usual occupation and they take a lower paid job, they may be able to claim benefit of up to 2/3rds the difference between their previous wage and their new wage.
The new york workers compensation board applies the law in a fair and equitable manner. It receives and processes claims and seeks agreements between parties that the illness or disability is work related and agrees payment amounts and their duration. Where an employees claim of a work related injury or illness is disputed by the employer the new york workers compensation board will arrange and conduct a hearing before a Workers' Compensation Law Judge who will decide the case based on evidence, written statements and medical evidence from the parties involved. Judges' decisions can be appealed to the Administrative Review Division where the case will go before 3 of the Board commissioners who must reach a unanimous decision. If they fail to do that or one of the parties does not agree with a unanimous outcome, the case can be heard by all 13 commissioners; even those decisions are appealable to the State Appellant Division, Third Department.
The new york workers compensation board undertakes educational outreach work and arranges training seminars for parties involved in the workers' compensation process. During each season the Board holds District Dialogue sessions in different venues across the state. The sessions are run very much on open forum lines and stakeholders are invited to ask questions and table issues for discussion. Dialogue discussions are documented and circulated through the Board's website or on social media. The website is designed so that workers, employers and other parties involved in the workers compensation can find the information they need quickly. This includes for workers, how to make a claim, details of the claims process and possible benefit entitlements. Employers are reminded about correct record keeping and notification of incidents. There is also information for insurers, health care information including fee schedules and a list of licenced attorneys and other representatives. Latest board announcements appear on the site together with details of any changes to legislation the Board is proposing.