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WORKFORCE SAFETY AND INSURANCE, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION BUREAU
[Authorized: NDCC Chapter 65-02]

The Workmen's Compensation Bureau was created in 1919 (S. L. 1919, Ch. 162) to administer the Workmen's Compensation Fund (created by the same bill) for the benefit and compensation of workers injured, disabled, or killed in hazardous employment. The Workmen's Compensation Fund was supported by employer's contributions paid into the Fund according to an equitable formula. In addition, the Workmen's Compensation Bureau had responsibility for regulation of minimum wages, maximum hours, and standards for employment of women and minors (S. L. 1919, Ch. 174).
               
The bill passed in the regular session created the Workmen's Compensation Bureau as part of the Department of Agriculture and Labor. The Bureau consisted of three members, including the Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor and two members appointed by the Governor for five-year terms. In the Special Session of 1919 the Workmen's Compensation bill was amended to expand the membership of the Bureau (Special Session S. L. 1919, Ch. 73). The membership consisted of the Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor and the Commissioner of Insurance as ex-officio members, and three gubernatorial appointees serving five-year terms. One appointee was required to be a representative of labor, one a representative of employers, and one representative of the public. The Workmen’s Compensation Bureau remained part of the Department of Agriculture and Labor.

A minimum wage department was also created within the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau in 1919 (S. L. 1919, Ch. 174). The purpose of the minimum wage department was to regulate the working hours and standards for employment of women and minors in the state. An agency with similar duties, the Public Welfare Commission, was created in 1917 and repealed in the 1919 session. The minimum wage department was transferred to the division of labor within the Department of Agriculture and Labor in 1935 (S. L. 1935, Ch. 162).
                                               
The Workmen’s Compensation Bureau was reorganized in 1931 (S. L. 1931, Ch. 314) removing the Bureau from jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture and Labor and removing the Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor and the Commissioner of Insurance as members. The independent Workmen’s Compensation Bureau was governed by a three-member Commission appointed by the Governor for staggered six-year terms. One Commissioner needed to be a representative of labor, one a representative of employers, and one a representative of the public. A law passed in 1933 (S. L. 1933, Ch. 270) allowed the Governor to remove any or all of the Commissioners with or without cause. This law was referred and disapproved by voters on September 22, 1933.

Legislation in 1935 gave the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau authority to appoint the State Coal Mine Inspector (S. L. 1935, Ch. 166). From 1919 to 1935 the State Coal Mine Inspector was appointed by the Governor for a two-year term. The State Coal Mine Inspector functioned as part of the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau and had responsibility for inspecting and licensing coal mines, collection of license fees for deposit in the Coal Mine Safety Fund, and compilation of coal mine statistics. The coal mine inspection function later merged with the agency’s safety department in 1971.

The North Dakota Unemployment Compensation Fund and division was created in 1937 (S. L. 1937, Ch. 232) within the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau.  Supported by contributions by employers in the state the purpose of the Fund was to provide compensation to workers involuntarily unemployed.  In addition, the North Dakota State Employment Service was transferred to the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau by the same bill. The unemployment compensation division and the state employment service were removed from the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau in 1965 and combined into the Employment Security Bureau (S. L. 1965, Ch. 333).

The State Legislature authorized the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau to appoint and employ a State Safety Engineer in 1947 (S. L. 1947, Ch. 378) to inspect factories and other work sites to identify hazards and make recommendations for correction, evaluate the effectiveness of industrial safety programs, educate workers and the public on work safety, and conduct research and develop safety engineering techniques. In 1953, the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau was authorized to appoint a State Boiler Inspector (S. L. 1953,  Ch. 351) to inspect and certify boilers in the state and establish rules and regulations for the proper installation, use, and operation of boilers [NDCC 65-12].

The Workmen’s Compensation Bureau was authorized in 1975 to administer provisions of the Crime Victims Reparations Act. This law established a state financial program to compensate innocent persons suffering personal injury from criminal attack and dependents of victims killed by criminally injurious conduct. The Workmen’s Compensation Bureau cooperates with other agencies in the rehabilitation of injured and disabled workers.
               
The Bureau was renamed in 1987 and of the three-member Bureau appointed by the Governor for six-year terms, one commissioner represented the employer, one the public, and one labor. The Governor appointed one commissioner as the chairman. As administrator of workers compensation laws, the Bureau was to collect premiums from employers and adjust rates of premium for each classification to assure the solvency of the Bureau. The Bureau also provided workers compensation for injured employees, cooperated in making arrangements for rehabilitation of persons injured in employment, completed safety inspections, classified employments with respect to degree of hazard, inspected boilers, and administered the Crime Victims Reparations Act.
               
The Workers’ Compensation Bureau Advisory Committee was authorized in 1988 as a Governor's Directive. The Governor appointed eleven persons representing employers, employees, the medical profession, and the Legislative Assembly to the Workers’ Compensation Bureau Advisory Committee.  The Committee's purpose is to advise the Bureau, to serve as its sounding board, and to influence legislative decisions.

In 1989 legislation authorized the Governor to appoint the Bureau’s executive director on a nonpartisan basis. The Governor prescribed the duties of the new the executive director who appointed the division directors. Legislation also changed the name of the Bureau from Workmen’s Compensation Bureau to Workers’ Compensation Bureau. The three Commissioners appointed by the Governor and their duties were eliminated (S. L. 1989, Ch. 295) and the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council was established to make recommendations and proposals for consideration by the Bureau. It consisted of an equal number of employer representatives and employee representatives who were characteristic of their vocation, employment, or affiliations (S. L. 1989, Ch. 768).

 Legislation concerned the repeal of numerous of sections and subsections to the Century Code and legislation passed in 1991 relating to the Workers’ Compensation Bureau and the effective date of the merger of the unemployment compensation division and the state employment service with newly created Job Service North Dakota (S. L. 1993, Ch. 613; S. L. 1993, Ch. 714). Six legislative bills were included in the 1995 session such as a bill related to the denial of compensation benefits due to use of alcohol or controlled substances (S. L. 1995, Ch. 611). New sections added to the Century Code related to establishing a Workers Compensation Adviser Program  independent of the claims department of the Bureau, however, communicating with the Bureau staff on claim dispute resolution (S. L. 1995, Ch. 612) and appropriations to allow for reinsurance and other expenditures (S.L. 1995, Ch. 613).

Legislation gave responsibility of appointing the Bureau’s director to the newly formed North Dakota Workers Compensation Board of Directors (S. L. 1997, Ch. 528). Additionally legislation created a new section to the Century Code [NDCC 65-02] relating to processes, programs, and procedures of the Bureau (S. L. 1997, Ch. 532). In 1999 the Office of Independent Review was established within the Bureau (S. L. 1999, Ch. 553).The name changed from Workers Compensation Bureau to Workforce Safety and Insurance  and the Board of Directors became the Workforce Safety and Insurance Board of Directors (S. L. 2003, Ch. 561). In a general election ballot (Initiated Measure Number 4) in 2008 the voters gave the authority of appointing a director of Workforce Safety and Insurance to the Governor [NDCC 65-02-01.3].
                                                                                                                                                               
CHRONOLOGY

1890       The Governor appointed a Board of Boiler Inspectors (S. L. 1890, Ch. 27).

1911       An Investigative Commission was created to investigate and report to the 1913 Legislature on a bill to fairly compensate employees for injuries received in the course of employment (S. L. 1911, Ch. 12).

1917       Creation of the Public Welfare Commission (S. L. 1917, Ch. 181).

1919       Workmen’s Compensation Bureau was created as part of the Department of Agriculture and Labor. Also created was the minimum wage department that included legislation for the protection of the lives and health of women and minor workers (S. L. 1919, Ch. 174).  The Public Welfare Commission was repealed and Workmen’s Compensation Fund was created (S. L. 1919, Ch. 162). During a Special Session the bill expanded membership from three to five (Special Session, S. L. 1919, Ch. 73).

1931       The Workmen’s Compensation Bureau was reorganized and made an independent state agency.  The Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor and the Commissioner of Insurance were removed from membership (S. L. 1931, Ch. 314).

1933       Legislation that passed allowed the Governor to remove any or all of the Commissioners with or without cause (S. L. 1933, Ch. 270) however, the law was referred and disapproved by voters on September 22, 1923.

1935.     The minimum wage department was transferred to the division of labor within the Department of Labor and Agriculture (S. L. 1935, Ch. 162) and Workmen’s Compensation Bureau assumed responsibility for the appointment of the State Coal Mine Inspector. The Governor appointed the Inspector for a term of two years and the qualifications for an Inspector were listed (S. L. 1935 Ch. 166). Under the law workers had to be covered by Workmen’s Compensation (S. L. 1935, Ch. 286) and legislation required the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau to carry compensation insurance on employees working on National Recovery Work Projects (S. L. 1935, Ch. 287).

1937       The unemployment compensation division was created within the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau and the state employment service came under control of the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau (S. L. 1937, Ch. 232). Legislation included a Committee on Women’s and Children’s Welfare (Senate Bill 141) and the Old Age Assistance Act (S. L. 1937, Ch. 211).

1939       Legislation created amendments to the Workmen’s Compensation act (S. L. 1939, Ch. 251).

1943       The Old Age and Survivor Insurance System was administered by the unemployment compensation division (S. L. 1943, Ch. 320). Other legislation was added to the Workmen’s Compensation Act (S. L. 1943, Ch. 274).

1947       The Workmen’s Compensation Bureau was authorized to appoint a State Safety Engineer (S. L. 1947, Ch. 378).

1949       Legislation related to Workmen’s Compensation, definitions, and rates (S. L. 1949, Ch. 354).

1953       Workmen’s Compensation Bureau was authorized to appoint a State Boiler Inspector (S. L. 1953, Ch. 351).

1963       Legislation required changes to the reports of executive and administrative agencies and departments (S. L. 1963, Ch. 346). The Chairman of the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau became a member of the State Investment Board.

1965       The unemployment compensation division and the state employment service were removed from the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau and combined to form the Employment Security Bureau (S. L. 1965, Ch. 333). Other legislation addressed the rule-making power and fee schedules of the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau (S. L. 1965, Ch. 455). The Legislature also required that office space for the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau be provided in the State Capitol (S. L. 1965, Ch. 181).

1969       Qualifications for the Coal Mine Inspector were changed (S. L. 1969, Ch. 329). Legislation addressed attorney’s fees in Workmen’s Compensation proceedings (S. L. 1969, Ch. 559).

1971       The Coal Mine Inspection function was merged with the agency’s safety department.

1973       The Boiler Inspector was allowed to appoint a deputy boiler inspector. Inspection laws were clarified so examining all boilers in the state ensured safety. The Inspector recorded conditions of boilers and issued, suspended, or revoked certificates of inspection (S. L. 1973, Ch. 516). Also legislation spelled out the requirements for the Bureau to print and distribute a report of general information to the public (S. L. 1973, Ch. 403).

1975       Workmen’s Compensation Bureau assumed administration of the Crime Victims Reparations Act established as a state financial program for reparations to persons who suffer personal injury and to dependents of those who are killed by criminally injurious conduct or in attempts to prevent criminal conduct or apprehend criminals (S. L. 1975, Ch. 587).  An amendment to the Century Code provided information on penalties for violations (S. L. 1975, Ch. 106). Other legislation covered topics such as burden of proof, rule-making power of the Bureau, the process, procedures, and cost of investigations, penalties for default of payment of premiums, and service to non-resident employers. Supervision of the Investment of Fund was moved to the State Investment Fund (S. L. 1975, Ch. 581).

1977       Qualifications for the Coal Mine Inspector were changed (S. L. 1977, Ch. 317). Other legislation covered such topics as rulemaking power of the Bureau and settlement claims including death, spouse, orphan, medical, and coverage of employers, volunteers, and self-employed (S. L. 1977, Ch. 579).

1983       Legislation concerned a new section to the Century Code relating to compensation and other benefits as required by the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 (S. L. 1983, Ch. 699).

1987       Name was changed from Workmen’s Compensation Bureau of North Dakota to Workers Compensation Bureau (S. L. 1987, Ch. 751). Legislation amended and reenacted the Century Code [NDCC 65-05-17] relating to death benefits and removing retroactively the cap on compensation (S. L. 1987, Ch. 754).

1989       Other legislation related to culpability for certain drug offenses (S. L. 1989, Ch. 267) and theft offenses (S. L. 1989, Ch. 166) and legislation concentrated on compensation, reinsurance filing cases, evaluations, benefits, and privacy rights. Also included in this legislation was the definition of a false claim and authority of the Bureau (S. L. 1989, Ch. 766). Additionally rehabilitation services were included in the legislative session (S. L. 1989, Ch. 771).

1991       Legislation related to changes in the rulemaking of the Bureau (S. L. 1991, Ch. 714).

1993       Other legislation related to Workers Compensation rulemaking powers and payment of attorneys’ fees (S. L. 1993, Ch. 619).  Also included were amendments concerning managed care services, claim filings, hearings, and privacy of records (S. L. 1993, Ch. 620).

1995       Legislation concerned Workers Compensation attorney fees and arbitration (S.L.1995, Ch. 614) also the qualifications for a Hearing Officer (S.L. 1995, Ch. 615) and a new section relating to a Workers’ Compensation fraud unit (S.L. 1995, Ch. 616).

1997       Several changes to legislation concerning the revocation of an appointment of a special assistant attorney general and payment of attorney’s fees paid for representing claimants (S. L. 1997, Ch. 533). Also legislation concerned fraud investigations, the definition of fraudulent activity, and penalty in fraud cases (S. L. 1997, Ch. 534). Legislation concerned the veto by the Governor on the Civil Air Patrol Workers Compensation reimbursements (S. L. 1997, Ch. 555).

1999       Workplace safety and premium calculation programs were added (S. L. 1999, Ch. 555) and medical and hospital fee schedules and managed care concerns were addressed (S. L. 1999, Ch. 554).  Legislation related to civil liability for intentional work-related injuries, to employer and provider fraud, and for an employer not in compliance concerning work related injuries (S. L. 1999, Ch. 549). Legislation concerned managed care issues (S. L. 1999, Ch. 264).

2001       A building maintenance account was added to the appropriations of the Bureau for the purpose of constructing a new building (S. L. 2001, Ch. 23).

2003       Other legislation included topics on the decisions concerning managed care, retaliation by an employer against an employee, disability benefits, and a preferred worker program (S. L. 2003, Ch. 562).

2005       Legislation concerned the appointment of the Workforce Safety and Insurance Board of Directors (S. L. 2005, Ch. 603) and appropriations for premiums, expenses, and coverage (S. L. 2005, Ch. 604).

2009       Legislation related to the Board of Directors and Workforce Safety and Insurance Reserves (S. L. 2009, Ch. 614).

SERIES

Workers’ Safety Insurance (Workmen’s Compensation and Workers’ Compensation Bureau)
30505 State Mine Inspection Department. Coal Mine Maps.
30668 Administration. Minutes.
30669 Administration. Register and Docket of Elective Claims.
30670 Administration. Pension Record.                 
30671 Administration. General Ledger.
30672 Administration. Actuarial Reports.
30673 Administration. Audit Reports.
30674 Administration. First Claim File.
30768 State Mine Inspection Department.  Annual Reports.
31342 Administration Division. Files.
31343 State Mine Inspection Department. State Mine Inspection Files.
31502 Boiler Inspection Division. Reports.
31519 Administration. Premium Rate Schedule.
32009 Workers Compensation. Executive Office.
32016 Workmen’s Compensation Bureau. Administration. Bryants Calculating Calendar Charts.
32107 Workforce Safety. Executive Office. Attorney General Opinions.

SOURCES

Gray, David P.  Guide to the North Dakota State Archives, 1985.
Legislative History of North Dakota State Agencies: Richard J. Wolfert State Librarian. State Library.
North Dakota Century Code.
North Dakota Secretary of State Blue Book.
North Dakota State Legislature Session Laws.
North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance Website.

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