See also: State Compensation Fund
The Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) was created in 1925 to oversee state programs related to workplace safety and workers compensation (Laws 1925, Chapter 83). The Arizona Constitution, Article 18 outlines provisions related to labor and Section 8, adopted in 1925, specifically addresses worker’s compensation.
Statutory authority is found in Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 23. In addition to general provisions establishing the ICA, statute prescribes powers and duties relating to employment practices and working conditions; worker’s compensation; and private employment agencies. (See A.R.S.§§ 23-101 et seq., 23-201 et seq., 23-901 et seq., and 23-521 et seq.)
The Industrial Commission is a regulatory agency that oversees a number of functions related to employment in Arizona. Its purpose has remained essentially the same since it was created in 1925. The Commission is responsible for labor related issues regarding occupational safety and health, youth employment laws, resolution of wage-related disputes, minimum wage, vocational rehabilitation, and worker’s compensation coverage. The ICA also conducts investigations of “whistleblower” discrimination complaints filed by employees against their employer. The ICA Administrative Fund is funded by annual assessments on worker’s compensation premiums.
When Laws 1925, Chapter 83 initially created the Industrial Commission, it specified a governor- appointed commission of three members serving six year terms. Commissioners were prohibited from holding any other position and were paid an annual salary of $5,000. The Commission was empowered to hire employees, although new hires had to be approved by the Governor.
Commissioners were given broad powers, including the right to enter any “place of employment” for the purpose of collecting facts and statistics. They were expected to administer and enforce laws regarding the safety and well-being of employees, promote out of court dispute resolution (mediation, arbitration), collect and publish statistics related to employment and employees, create free employment assistance agencies, and investigate any petition regarding unsafe unemployment.
The Commission could be petitioned for a hearing on the reasonableness and lawfulness of any Industrial Commission order and no court proceedings could be initiated against the Commission until a hearing petition had been filed and addressed.
Lastly, the Commission created and ran a State Compensation Fund, which offered liability insurance to employers.
Laws 1943, Chapter 26 made the Commission the exclusive remedy in cases of “occupational diseases,” as well as creating a liability insurance fund to cover compensation for employees who contracted an occupational disease as a result of their employment.
The Commission was expanded to five members serving five-year terms by Laws 1968, 4thSpecial Session, Chapter 6. The Commission was authorized to hire a director, who in turn was required to hire hearing officers who were members of the state bar. A Division of Safety was also created to establish safety standards for various industries and to investigate violations.
The State Compensation Fund, which had been a part of the ICA, was established as a separate agency by Laws 1968, 4th Special Session, Chapter 6 to provide a ready market for worker’s compensation insurance coverage for Arizona employers. A board and manager were also put in place to oversee the State Compensation Fund, with the manager handling day-to-day operations of the Fund.
Laws 1980, Chapter 246 replaced hearing officers with administrative law judges who reported to the State Personnel Commission rather than the Board.
The State Compensation Fund continued until January 1, 2013 when it was privatized and replaced by a successor mutual insurer corporation that assumed all liabilities and assets of the SCF. The successor was Copper Point Mutual Insurance Company. (See Laws 2010, Chapter 268 and Laws 2011, Chapter 157.) Note: The State Compensation Fund history is included elsewhere in this document.
Laws 2012, Chapter 321 required the director of the Industrial Commission to be confirmed by the Senate and serve at the pleasure of the Governor. Previously the director could only be dismissed for cause.
Laws 2016, Chapter 128 required personnel of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health review board to be employed and supervised by the Industrial Commission Director, rather than the chairman of the review board.
Arizona Constitution, Article 18, Section 8
Arizona Revised Statutes
- Laws 1925, Chapter 83
- Laws 1943, Chapter 26
- Laws 1968, Fourth Special Session, Chapter 6
- Laws 1980, Chapter 246
- Laws 2010, Chapter 268
- Laws 2011, Chapter 157
- Laws 2012, Chapter 321
- Laws 2016, Chapter 128
Industrial Commission of Arizona: www.ica.state.az.us
Master List of State Programs: www.ospb.state.az.us