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Carlo Ferraris was intrusted with the preparation of this report, as he had been seven years earlier. The principles proposed by Ferraris in his report (a) were on the whole in accordance with the bill which passed the Chamber of Deputies in May, 1896. The most important suggestion was for the purpose of settling the muchdiscussed question of personal responsibility of either employer or employee. In the opinion of Professor Ferraris, all accidents caused by “civil fault” (such fault as carried with it civil responsibility only) of the employer or his agents should be classed together with other accidents in the class of trade risk and be subject to obligatory insurance, while such accidents as are due to criminal negligence, according to the provisions (as established by a punitive sentence of a court), should carry civil liability.
These suggestions were approved, and April 30, 1897, the Government introduced in the Senate a new bill based upon them. In the main the new bill was similar to that adopted by the Chamber of Deputies May 27, 1896. It included the same provisions for prevention of accidents, and endeavored to introduce a system of obligatory insurance with choice of insuring company; it covered, briefly, all mining and manufacturing establishments employing over 5 persons, building, construction, transportation on land and inland waters, and orders compensation only for injuries causing disability for over ten days. While the freedom of choice of the insurance institution was provided for, it was limited either to the national institution or the employers' mutual insurance associations, thus demonstrating the influences of German example and experience. The question of the civil responsibility of the employers in case of criminal negligence was settled on the lines suggested by Professor Ferraris, i. e., the civil responsibility remained in case of fraud, negligence, incapacity, or failure to comply with rules or orders, as provided for in certain articles of the penal code, if such fraud, etc., has been established by a punitive sentence of a court.
This bill was sent to the central bureau of the Senate, which brought in its report June 22, 1897. The only important modification introduced by the commission was the establishment of greater liberty of choice of insurance institution, and the permission to establish independent funds under strict guarantees. The bill was adopted by the Senate with scarcely any changes July 5, 1897, and introduced in the Chamber of Deputies two days later. The report of the parlia
a Relazione del Professore Carlo Francesco Ferraris sul Tema: “Gli infortuni del lavoro e la legge.” Atti del Consiglio della Previdenza. Allegate B. pp. 205–322. (Ministero di Agricoltura, Industria e Commercio, Divisione Credito e Previdenza Annali del Credito e della Previdenza, 1897.)
0 Bulletin du Comité Permanent du Congrès International des Accidents du Travail et des Assurances Sociales, tome 8, 1897, pp. 215–228.
mentary commission on this bill, brought in February 10, 1898, showed that the principle of trade risk, which had caused so much opposition in the earlier days, had become generally accepted by that time. The idea of free choice of the insurer (with insurance compulsion) had as many adherents as the method of compulsory insurance in a designated institution. At the same time the failure of voluntary insurance was freely admitted, as only one-tenth of the industrial workmen were insured in the national insurance institution. The commission recommended the adoption of the law, and after prolonged discussion it was adopted by 172 votes against 60 on March 13. It was approved and became a law March 17, 1898, promulgated March 31, 1898, and went into effect six months later, September 30, 1898.
The law of 1898 provided compensation for all injuries caused by industrial accidents and leading to death or disability lasting more than five days. It was applicable, first, to mines and quarries, building, gas-producing, electric-power establishments, such establishments where explosives are produced or utilized; second, railroad transportation, inland navigation, tramways, and construction works; and, finally, to industrial establishments utilizing mechanical or animal power and employing more than five persons. Within these branches of industry it applied to workmen, apprentices, and overseers receiving not more than 7 lire ($1.35) per day. No exception is made for accidents due to gross negligence of employees, but when the accident is due to willful misconduct, as established by a judicial conviction, the person or institution paying the compensation may be reimbursed through a criminal action.
The scale of compensation established was briefly as follows: In case of death or total permanent disability an amount equal to 5 times the annual wages, with a minimum of 3,000 lire ($579) in the latter case; a proportionate amount in case of partial permanent disability; in case of total temporary disability-a daily compensation equal to one-half the average wages from the sixth day on, and a corresponding portion in case of partial temporary disability. The compensation for death or permanent disability is paid in a lump sum, except in case of total permanent disability, when it must be converted into a life pension for the injured employee with a designated financial institution.
For the payment of this scale of compensation, the employers were required to insure their specified employees either in the National Accident Insurance Institution or in authorized private insurance societies, while for public establishments, whether of the State or provincial or communal governments the national institution is prescribed; under certain conditions an employers' association for mutual insurance against accidents, or even a private employer's insurance fund could be substituted; government establishments for which pro
vision has been made by special legislation are relieved from this obligatory insurance. Compliance with this law relieved the employer from his responsibility under the civil law except in such cases when he or his agents are criminally responsible for the accidents as established by judgment of a court.
Perhaps the most important advance of the law over preceding bills was the establishment of a government fund for compensation of injured employees who have failed to receive the compensation due them on account of insolvency of the employer who has failed to insure his workers. Into that fund are paid the indemnities due in case of fatal accidents, when the persons killed leave no heirs.
The law contained several provisions concerning accident prevention. It required the minister of agriculture, industry, and commerce to prepare regulations after consultation with the employers in the industries specified and with government authorities on the subject, and the failure to comply with these regulations was made a criminal offense. No special factory inspection was organized to carry this law into effect, but the existing mine inspectors and the private agencies were to be utilized, such as the employers' mutual insurance associations and societies for prevention of accidents.
On June 1, 1901, less than three years after the law of 1898 went into effect, the movement for amendment of the law was started by the introduction of a bill by the minister of agriculture, industry, and commerce, in the Chamber of Deputies. (a) The most important changes suggested in this bill were as follows: First, the extension of the law to the following industries--the installation and repair of electric conduit wires and lightning rods; deep-sea navigation and fishing; loading and unloading, leveling, and grading; felling and pruning trees; all employees working near industrial or agricultural machines, moved by mechanical power, and those employed to handle cannons or other apparatus for counteracting hail. For the proper organization of the insurance of persons employed in maritime navigation, special regulations were included in the law in view of the many peculiar conditions governing this industrial field.
Second, important modifications were made in the scale of compensation for disability. For total permanent disability the compensation was increased from five to six times the annual wages, though the minimum limit was left unchanged. A corresponding increase was proposed in the compensation for partial permanent disability from five to six times the loss of annual earning power. According to the law of 1898, only those injuries were compensated which
a Le projet de loi portant modifications à loi du 17 mars 1898 relative aux accidents du travail. Bulletin du Comité Permanent du Congrès International des Accidents du Travail, tome 12, 1901, pp. 365–407.
caused disability for over five days, and the payment of compensation began with the sixth day. While no change was suggested in the class of injuries compensated, the new bill proposed that in these cases the compensation be paid for the entire period of disability.
Third, a most important change suggested was that referring to persons entitled to compensation in case of a fatal accident. The old law simply named the legal heirs according to the Civil Code. The bill of 1901 suggested a complicated schedule showing the distribution of the compensation between the widow and children and the other relatives in descending or ascending line. More exact methods of computing the annual earnings of the injured employees, for the purpose of determining the amount of compensation due, were also introduced.
Fourth, the original law exempted from the obligation of insurance at fixed premiums in the National Accident Insurance Institution or private insurance companies such establishments as formed employers' mutual accident insurance associations, which distribute the cost by assessment of the membership. Notwithstanding this effort to stimulate employers' mutual associations, only four such associations had been formed. The new bill gave the Government the right to make the formation of such mutual associations compulsory if after consultation with local interests it found such a step necessary. As was explained in the memorial accompanying the bill, the provision was aimed directly at the sulphur mines of Sicily, which caused great difficulties to insurance companies writing accident insurance for them, because of the frequency of accidents.
Other changes suggested referred mainly to methods of procedure and were of minor importance.
The government bill was referred to a parliamentary commission, which handed in a favorable report December 30, 1901, indorsing most changes recommended by the Government, but suggesting several minor changes, of which the most important were as follows: Instead of all deep-sea fishing, only that within 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) and the fishing for sponges and corals was included; to felling and pruning trees the work of transporting them to the rivers or the wagon roads were added; the absence of indemnity during the first five days of temporary disability was reestablished in accordance with the law of 1898. The right to establish obligatory employers' insurance associations was limited to the Sicilian sulphur mines.
The bill passed the Chamber April 22, 1902, with a great number of further minor changes. The most important were as follows: The addition of transportation of merchandise by land and construction and repair of ships; a minimum annual wage of 500 lire ($96.50) was established as a basis for computing indemnity for partial permanent
disability; the brothers and sisters of the deceased, under 18 years of age, were given a right to compensation in absence of nearer relatives; the provisions of the government bill concerning the payment of compensation during the first five days of disability were restored, though struck out by the commission; in cases of partial permanent disability with loss of 50 per cent of earning capacity or more, the payment of a life annuity instead of a lump sum through the national invalidity insurance institution was made obligatory; the general right of the Government to establish compulsory employers' mutual insurance associations was reasserted; and several other changes were introduced, mostly in favor of the interests of the insured employees.
The bill was introduced in the Senate April 30, 1902. It was referred to the central office of the senate and reported back February 7, 1903, again with numerous changes, in which were embraced the following points: The law was further extended to the tearing down of structures, and all land transportation. The form of annuities lasting until the age of 18, but twice as great before the age of 12 as from 12 to 18, was substituted for lump-sum payments in paying compensation to minor children or brothers and sisters; and for the relatives in an ascending line annuities were also made compulsory instead of lump-sum payments. In general the pension idea gained in popularity, and payment of lump sums was made conditional upon the demand of the victim. A special scale of compensation, lower than the general scale, was prepared for seamen. In addition, the central office of the Senate suggested the passage of a resolution inviting the Government to present by the end of 1904 a bill for the establishment of a simplified, more rapid, and less costly procedure for settlement of disagreements, and, secondly, to elaborate a bill for the obligatory insurance against trade diseases.
A few minor changes were introduced on the floor of the Senate, some of these of material advantage or extending the application of the law; thus, while the text previously included employees in agriculture handling machines moved by mechanical power, this was changed so as to include all machines moved by any power other than by the employees tending the machine. The right to establish obligatory employers' mutual insurance associations was further enlarged, so that no evidence of necessity was required; the evidence of feasibility was sufficient.
The bill passed the Senate April 3, 1903, was reintroduced in the Chamber of Deputies May 12, 1903, referred to the commission which reported June 25, 1903, in favor of agreeing to the form of the bill as it passed the Senate, and without further changes the bill was so passed June 28, and was approved and became a law June 29, 1903. Thus two years were consumed in the process of amending the law of