Site Navigation

WCB Home Page
Change Font Size
Glossary of WCB Terms

History of the New York State
Workers' Compensation Board

New York has had a no–fault workers' compensation system for nearly a century. Before enactment of the Workers' Compensation Law, when a worker was injured, the only remedy was to sue in the courts. When that happened, the employer could always raise an objection that the worker had assumed the risk of employment, or the injury was caused by the worker's negligence or that of another worker.

Today, the workers' compensation system guarantees both medical care and weekly cash benefits to people who are injured on the job. Weekly cash benefits and medical care are paid by the employer's insurance carrier, as directed by the Workers' Compensation Board. Employers pay for this insurance, and may not require the employee to contribute to the cost of compensation.

New York can trace its workers' compensation system back almost a full century and to a tragic fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. In that incident, 146 people died–mostly women, some as young as twelve. It was the greatest workplace disaster in New York until the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11. The fire galvanized labor and led to many reforms in safety, health, and labor laws. More to the point, it helped lead to the workers' compensation system both here in New York and across the country.

New York's Workers' Compensation law pre–dates Social Security and Prohibition. It is a law that needs to be revisited to keep up with the times. In 2007 the state of New York, in close partnership with labor and the business community, adopted a sweeping workers' compensation reform measure. Since then, benefits have increased while costs have decreased; injured workers are getting benefits faster; and fraud is being rooted out.

NYS Workers Compensation Board CentenialNew York State Workers' Compensation Board Centennial