Real worker's compensation reform needed

And that doesn't mean pandering to lobbyists:

The quick fix concerns transparency. Last summer, in response to a Raleigh News & Observer report that as many as 30,000 North Carolina companies did not have required coverage, the General Assembly made most of the data confidential.

Is that how our Legislature should approach widespread systemic problems, by sweeping them under the carpet (or closing the drapes so nobody can see)? Of course not. But aside from the issue of the casual disregard of established law, there are some other very good reasons to bring these companies into compliance:

The premiums paid for insurance/underwriting represent more than just "the cost of doing business", the insurers actually become partners on the workplace safety "team". They bring some critical knowledge into the mix, because they've got reams of hard data on (actual) workplace injuries, as opposed to perceived hazards. And unlike the NC DOL, these private insurers put that information to good use. Not only do (most of them) perform on-site inspections on a regular basis, they also come up with some pretty innovative ideas on how to improve safety conditions.

One idea in particular which (eventually) brought my company's premiums down was one I was initially skeptical of. Being a seasoned veteran of countless (and usually pointless) staff/board meetings, when our insurance rep strongly suggested we form a safety committee, comprised of volunteers from each division, my first thought was "here we go again". But I soon realized I had been mistaken. Vast improvements were made, injuries (especially the stupid ones) dropped off to next to nothing, and everybody became more safety-conscious.

The thing is, that probably would have never happened without a healthy nudge from our worker's comp insurer.

Another issue conservatives in the NCGA need to consider is the legal one. In the absence of coverage, and in light of the DOL's hands-off approach to regulating workplace safety, an injured worker's only alternative for redress/compensation is the courts. Here's a clue: the refusal of a private company to purchase required insurance makes them the primary culprit in unnecessary lawsuits. There's your tort reform, if that's really one of your concerns.