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Accidents

principle, safety and injuries

ACCIDENTS Another problem still unsolved, but now receiv ing very active consideration, is that of compensa tion for deaths and injuries to workmen in the course of their occupation. To a far greater extent than was just or reasonable we have in the past thrown the cost and hardships of such industrial injuries on the injured workmen and their families. They have had their chance at a lawsuit for dam ages, but they have had to show that the employer was liableŚwas responsible for the accident by some personal fault or negligence on his part. If the injured or killed workman was contributorily negli gent, or if a fellow employee was negligent, or if it was due to an ordinary risk of the trade which the employee was supposed to know about, he might get nothing at all, even though disabled for life. Such barbarous laws and practices survived here long after they were changed or abolished in other civilized countries, but of late there has swept over the country a realization of their injustice and iniquity which has led to the gradual introduction of a new principle. Compensation, reasonable in amount but immediate, and assured, generally, from some sort of insurance fund, previously collected by law, is taking the place of employer's liability at law. The successful introduction of the compensa

tion-insurance principle in place of the liability principle, making the financial burden of deaths 10 and injuries a charge on the industry to be dis tributed to consumers, instead of a charge on the families of the workers, is a clear triumph of elemen tary justice over artificial law, of the cooperative over the exploitive principle. It is as an incident of such legislation that "safety first" and "boost ing for safety" campaigns have been inaugurated. Factory inspection by the state is all very well and is necessary, but constant self-inspection by officers, superintendents, foremen, and operatives is the only kind of inspection that will prevent accidents. If the insurance rate which a given establishment has to pay is fixed by an association of which that establishment is a member, and fixed according to the actual risk, as determined by safety devices and efficiency of management, the safety devices will be installed and the management will tend to become efficient.