Warning: New technology makes it easier to uncover workers' comp violations

How easy is it to spot a company failing to fund workers’ comp benefits? It can’t be too hard if just eight inspectors in Georgia were able to uncover 538 businesses without comp insurance in just three months. What’s changed?
Answer: Technology.
Computers are making it easier for state inspectors to nab businesses without workers’ compensation insurance policies.
And the result is more inspections and more fines.
Since the start of 2012, Georgia has issued $480,000 in fines to the 538 businesses found without comp policies, according to The Newnan Times-Herald.
These companies will also have to pay a total of $1.2 million in premiums to come into compliance.
And all it took was four compliance officers and four inspectors to find the violators, Richard Thompson, chairman of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, told the Times-Herald.
The board used to rely on complaints and random checks to uncover violations.
Now, inspectors can check a national database to see if a business is paying premiums for comp coverage — and they can do it from laptops in their cars.
In the time it takes to conduct one physical inspection, 12 businesses can now be checked out using the database.
Inspectors also check to see if former violators have dropped coverage they were forced to buy in the past.
The Department of Labor’s even helping. State inspectors can cross check data from the DOL to see if employers paying unemployment insurance premiums are providing workers’ comp coverage as well.
The most frequent violators:

  • Restaurants
  • Retail stores, and
  • Small construction companies.

The state now has a website that allows workers to check if their employers have workers’ comp coverage. If no coverage is found, it offers instructions on how to report a possible violation.
Georgia requires most employers with three or more full time, part time or seasonal employees to offer workers’ comp benefits. Any business found in non-compliance with required coverage requirements faces civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation. Possible prison time could also result from non-compliance.
Source:State cracks down on workers’ comp,” by Walter Jones, The Newnan Times-Herald, 4/4/12.