The 72nd Workers’ Compensation Conference marks the 30th year that the Workers’ Compensation Institute (Institute) has organized this annual event. The theme of this year’s conference “Then and Now . . . 30 Years of Change” “spotlights” not only the changing times of the national workers’ compensation and safety industries as a whole but also the many advancements made in the conference itself.
Since its’ organization in 1986 and assuming responsibility for the conference in 1987, the Institute has been existing as a non-profit organization. The purpose of the Institute is to provide a positive educational opportunity for all in the workers’ compensation system. Believing that safety and health are significant parts of any viable workers’ compensation system, the Institute assumed responsibility for the Florida Governors Safety and Health Conference approximately 25 years ago and this year hosts the 29th Annual Safety and Health Conference held in conjunction with the Workers’ Compensation Conference. The conference initially focused on Florida’s needs for training and education. Approximately 7 years ago, the Institute was reorganized as a national educational organization and has now become the largest non-profit educational conference in the nation for workers’ compensation and safety issues.
The desire and need for workers’ compensation and safety training can best be realized by looking at the extraordinary growth of the conference for the past 30 years. The 1986 conference hosted by the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation attracted approximately 200 attendees, the agenda consisted of a 3-page tri-fold mimeographed program with 10 speakers involving subjects primarily of interest to the legal community and specifically focused on the after-program social activities, which were considerable. Today, the conference consists of approximately 8000 attendees from throughout the U.S. and several foreign countries, a program of almost 150 pages in length with over 500 speakers, 180 separate sessions, exhibitors numbering over 350, and program partnerships/endorsements from leading state and national organizations and regulatory agencies.
Consistent with the organizational purposes of the institute, funds received from the conference have been utilized to establish educational opportunities for the entire workers’ compensation and safety community, separate and apart from the annual conference. Grants and in some instances ongoing funding have been provided to create training and education for claims adjusters, attorneys, medical providers, regulators and workers’ compensation judges/hearing officers from throughout the nation, safety professionals, and insurance agents/brokers.
Understanding industry’s obligation to respond to social needs, a “Spirit to Serve” committee was created. Under the direction of this committee, scholarships to injured workers’ children are provided allowing these deserving students the ability to seek further education/training. Funds are used to support the faith based claims association and prayer breakfast at the conference. As a part of the conference, attendees volunteer for a work day and annual fundraising Gala in support of the “Give Kids the World” charity with approximately 600 participants attending each of these special events. Perhaps the proudest accomplishment of the Institute has been the hundreds of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make the conference and its other activities such a success.
Continuing the Institute’s emphasis on education and improving the workers’ compensation and safety industry, the Institute is proud to announce its most recent partnership with the Florida State University College of Law and its newly created Juris Masters Degree Program with emphasis on Risk Management. This new cutting edge online program is designed for individuals that deal with the law in their jobs (not attorneys), who are interested in their education and potential job advancement by obtaining a masters degree and who cannot afford to leave their jobs to obtain such an advanced degree. A special breakout session on Tuesday of the conference at 2:00 p.m. in the Crystal B Ballroom on the Conference Level of the hotel will be held to explain this new program in detail and answer any questions.
We sincerely appreciate your attendance at the conference this year. We are always open to recommendations for improving the conference and would welcome any assistance that you might want to provide. We sincerely hope that you will have a good conference experience and welcome any questions that you might have.
Jim McConnaughhay Steve Rissman
General Chair Program Chair
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