A History of Workers’ Compensation – With a Washington State Slant

English Fire Insurance Laws Enacted in 1667

c2000, BC

Hammurabi, ruler of Babylon, was responsible for the Code of Hammurabi, part of which bears resemblance to today’s workers’ compensation laws.

c460-c377, BC

Hippocrates, the father of contemporary medicine, established .a link between the respiratory problems of Greek stonecutters and the rock dust surrounding them.


The Great Fire of London (September 2-7, 1666) caused the first English fire insurance laws to be enacted.


William Gladstone pushes Employers’ Liability Act in Britain


The Pennsylvania Mine Safety Act (PMSA) was passed into law.


Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg, (known as Otto von Bismarck, a Prussian statesman) enacts the Employers’ Liability Act.


The state of Massachusetts passed a law requiring guarding for dangerous machinery, and took authority for enforcement of factory inspection programs.


The first recorded call by a labor organization for a federal occupational safety and health law is heard.


Otto von Bismarck enacts Workers’ Accident Insurance


The state of Maryland passed the first workers’ compensation law.


Industrial Insurance laws enacted in Washington State.

1911 – 1915

During this period, 30 states passed workers’ compensation laws.


President Lyndon Johnson called for a federal occupational safety and health law.


President Richard Nixon signed into law the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), thus creating the OSH Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).


Self-Insurance for Workers’ Compensation allowed for individual businesses in Washington State.


Compromise and Release Structured Settlement Agreements allowed for certain Washington State workers’ compensation claims that meet basic criteria.