With this issue, LIFELINES takes up one of the more complex and perplexing issues in the construction industry: workers’ compensation insurance.

For most of the last century, labor and management fought over occupational safety and health. Management thought workers were reckless, and workers thought management just didn’t care. More often than not, this bickering was resolved through expensive and long-delayed lawsuits.

Fifteen years ago, however, in the founding of the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA), we recognized that both the welfare of Laborers and the profits of our signatories are boosted by effective health and safety programs. Our examination of workers’ compensation insurance bears this out (see the four-page center section).

In this issue, we’ve also addressed the looming deadline for compliance with the new federal health care regulations, known as HIPAA; we’re introducing and touting a software solution that can resolve compliance problems for local funds still searching for an answer. Cognizant of the high costs associated with HIPAA regulatory compliance, we’re running a related story about the successful, cost-saving merger of New Jersey’s 53 local building funds into a single, statewide fund.

So far, the feedback on LIFELINES’ new magazine format has been positive. We continue to encourage your suggestions for how it can be further improved.