North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance (WSI) marks 100 years of service with new You Tube video

September 2018

North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance (WSI) marks 100 years of service

New You Tube video chronicles the agency’s history

As part of marking 100 years of providing workers’ compensation services to North Dakota, Workforce Safety & Insurance (WSI) has released a ten-minute video that chronicles the agency’s history.

The video features scores of early black and white photographs culled from several collections, including the North Dakota State Archives, Digital Horizons at North Dakota State University and the agency’s records. 

The video tells a story of how states began to adopt workers’ compensation laws in the early 20th century, designed to provide a safety net for workers hurt on the job. Wisconsin passed the first comprehensive workers' compensation law in 1911, while Mississippi was the last state to jump onboard in 1948.

In 1919 under the leadership of the Non-Partisan League, the North Dakota Legislature passed House Bill 56 that created the then-called Workmen’s Compensation Bureau.  The bill was signed into law by Non-Partisan League Governor Lynn Frazier, with the Bureau beginning operations on July 1, 1919 in the dining room of the Northwest Hotel in downtown Bismarck.

In fact, the League created three institutions that year that still resonate strongly in the state 100 years later. The Bank of North Dakota, The North Dakota State Mill and Elevator and the then called, Workmen’s Compensation Bureau, now known as Workforce Safety & Insurance (WSI).

Over the last one hundred years, despite several changes in the management structure, WSI still regulates an exclusive employer-financed, no-fault workers’ compensation insurance system. North Dakota is just one of four states to have this exclusive arrangement with its citizens.

WSI is funded solely by employer premiums and receives no general fund dollars. WSI charges employers insurance premiums based on the risk of a job. In return, WSI provides North Dakota workers coverage for their work-related injuries. WSI sets, maintains and manages its financial reserves to ensure adequate funding to pay the medical and wage-replacement claims for injured workers.

To view the video please follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOcmUUtDVgc

For historic photos to use in your publications or schedule an interview with Director Bryan Klipfel, please contact WSI Communications Liaison Mark Armstrong at 701-328-5931 or marmstrong@nd.gov