The Report of the National Commission on State Workmen’s Compensation Laws celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2022. Workers’ Compensation (WC) practitioners and scholars are planning an event in commemoration of this fiftieth anniversary, a milestone that is particularly notable given the new issues raised regarding WC by the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the National Commission Report

The 1972 Commission was appointed by President Nixon to conduct a thorough review of the WC system. After finding substantial weaknesses, it issued a comprehensive report that included dozens of recommendations, six of which it deemed “essential” and urged federal action if states did not take action. While many of its recommendations were only partially implemented, no federal action was taken, and several have since been clawed back, the Commission’s Report remains, to this day, the most important and influential policy document guiding U.S. Workers’ Compensation programs.

In addition to the Academy’s Policy Director, Elaine Weiss, the 50th anniversary planning committee includes the following experts from the Academy’s Study Panel on Workers’ Compensation Data:

  • Les Boden, Professor of Public Health, Boston University
  • John Burton, Professor Emeritus, School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University
  • Michael Duff, Professor of Law, University of Wyoming
  • Emily Spieler, Professor of Law, Northeastern University
  • David Torrey, Workers’ Compensation Judge, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
  • Jennifer Wolf, Executive Director, International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC)

As planning committee leader James Gallen wrote when organizing the group:

I believe that it is important that we draw renewed attention to the Commission’s work and its influence in molding the modern workers’ compensation system. My first professional experience in workers’ compensation occurred in a state that had just amended its laws in response to the Commission’s Report. I have had the opportunity to have at least a glimpse of the changes to the system driven by the Report. Many less experienced parties have never known workers’ compensation uninfluenced by the Report. An appreciation of the Report and the issues it was intended to address provide guidance in meeting the challenges of the present and the future.

The Academy is honored to take part in this effort. Please contact Elaine Weiss,, to learn more about the work and/or to be involved in the commemoration event.

Posted on: May 19, 2021

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