Gov. John Hoeven has appointed a grocery store owner and a construction company president for the board of North Dakota’s troubled workers compensation agency.
Michael Gallagher and John Dyste joined the Workforce Safety and Insurance board on Feb. 1.
The agency is undergoing a consultants’ review of its management and claims-handling practices as a result of recent management turmoil, including the dismissal of its chief executive officer, and allegations that workers’ injury claims were being improperly denied.
Gallagher, who is owner and president of Curtis Construction Co., of Fargo, will represent employers who pay less than $10,000 in workers compensation premiums each year. Curtis Construction specializes in the design and building of commercial and church facilities.
Dyste is representing all employers on the board. Business representatives have a majority on the 11-member panel.
Dyste is the principal owner of Dyste Food Group, which includes grocery stores in Forman, Milnor, Lidgerwood and Hankinson in rural southeastern North Dakota, according to documents he submitted as part of his application for a board seat.
He is president of Forman Hospitality LLC, which is a group of investors who own and manage a motel in Forman, a community in Sargent County. He has also worked as an emergency medical services coordinator and hospital administrator.
“I feel my employment in the health care industry … as well as my years of owning and operating a retail business have prepared me for the position as a WSI board member,” Dyste said on his application.
Gallagher said his experience with two construction companies “has impressed upon me the importance of safety education,” which is one of WSI’s functions. “I bring the point of view of a small business person balancing the needs of clients and employees with the company’s bottom line,” he wrote in his application.
“The organization has endured numerous investigations, audits and reviews in recent years and at this time, it appears to be in turmoil,” Gallagher wrote. “It needs to return its focus to the health and well-being of North Dakota workers.”
Gallagher replaces Dennis Schneider, a former Grafton grocery store owner, who resigned from the board in November. Dyste succeeds former WSI board chairman Robert Indvik, who quit the board last month.
Workforce Safety and Insurance sells insurance to North Dakota businesses that covers worker injuries on the job, including expenses for medical treatment, lost wages and rehabilitation. It is the only provider of workers compensation coverage, and employers are required to buy it.
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