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BWC Board Nominee List Sent to Governor

April 1, 2016

The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Board of Directors Nominating Committee has sent to Governor Kasich a list of nominees for appointment to the board.

By law, the nominating committee sends the governor a list of four names for open seats.  The governor is required to choose a nominee from the list, or request a new list.

The nominating committee sent names for these board seats:  actuary, investment & securities, employer representative, and self-insuring employer representative.

OMA president Eric Burkland serves on the nominating committee.

BWC Premium Due Date is Dec. 31

December 11, 2015

State fund employers:  If you are paying premium on a bi-monthly basis and you haven’t already paid it – your BWC premium payment is due soon:

 Premium bill dates  Payment due dates
 December 1, 2015  December 31, 2015
 February 1, 2016  March 2, 2016
 April 1, 2016  May 2, 2016

Please note:  There are significant consequences for payment lapses of 40 days or more, including lack of coverage and disqualification from group discount programs.

If you have any questions about this, please contact OMA’s Brian Jackson.

BWC to Offer “Other States” Coverage Policy

December 4, 2015

A new coverage option recently approved by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) board of directors will simplify workers’ compensation for businesses with employees who work in other states.

Workers’ compensation laws vary by state and the new Other States’ Coverage will help ensure that Ohioans injured on the job will be covered regardless of where they are injured.

While BWC generally provides coverage for employees working temporarily outside of Ohio, complications can arise when the injured worker files a claim in another state. Treatment can be delayed and businesses can be subject to penalties by the other state.  By contracting with an insurer licensed in other states, BWC will be able to offer an option that ensures proper coverage regardless of jurisdiction.

A law enacted last year granted BWC the authority to contract with an insurer to provide this coverage, and the board approved the rules governing the optional policy offering designed by BWC.  The policy offering is expected to be in place in the first half of 2016.

Interested employers will apply directly to BWC, which will determine eligibility and the premium cost for the optional coverage.  The vendor will issue a policy to cover out-of-state exposures and respond to any claims filed out of state.

OMA-Supported Subrogation Bill Moves Out of House

December 4, 2015

This week the House of Representatives unanimously approved House Bill 207, sponsored by Reps. Mike Henne (R-Clayton) and Robert McColley (R-Napoleon).  The bill would enable claims costs to be charged to the Bureau Workers’ Compensation (BWC) surplus fund, rather than a state fund employer’s experience, in the event of a motor vehicle accident-related workers’ compensation claim that is likely to be subrogated by a third party.

OMA Safety and Workers’ Compensation Chairman Larry Holmes, Sr. V.P., Finance, Fort Recovery Industries, Inc., provided proponent testimony on behalf of the OMA earlier this fall during committee hearings.  The bill now goes to the Senate.

BWC Ties Claim Reduction to Safety Awareness

December 4, 2015

The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) recently reported out reductions in claims and employer costs:  “In FY 15, BWC approved 81,348 medical-only claims and 11,870 lost time claims compared to 89,505 medical-only and 13,296 lost-time claims in FY 11. This drop in claims has helped BWC reduce employer rates. Since 2011 private business rates have been reduced 21.4 percent overall, while public employers have seen a reduction of 26.5 percent.

“Ohio’s safety record is echoed in recent figures released by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, which continue to show Ohio’s injury rate is below the national average. Those statistics, from 2014, show Ohio’s injury rate is 2.9 injuries per 100 workers, compared to a national average of 3.4 injuries per 100 workers. Ohio’s rate is lower than all its neighboring states including Michigan (3.7), Indiana (4.0), Kentucky (3.8), West Virginia (4.1) and Pennsylvania (3.6).”

BWC credits, in part, its safety grant program: “More than 570 Ohio employers have received, or are in the process of receiving, nearly $15 million in safety grants … BWC expects to finish awarding its Fiscal Year 2016 grants in the next few weeks to applications already in hand. This will be the quickest the money has been awarded since the amount of available dollars was tripled by Governor John R. Kasich three years ago.”

BWC is no longer accepting applications for this year; however, employers can begin applying for $15 million in FY 2017 funds in April 2016.

OMA Sets 2016 Safety Webinar Calendar

December 4, 2015

Each month the OMA holds a one-hour safety webinar, typically the first Thursday at 10:00 a.m.

The 2016 calendar of safety webinars is set.  The topics were selected based on member input to a recent survey.

Register at My OMA or call us at (800) 662-4463.  To receive webinar announcements, subscribe to Safety & Workers’ Compensation under My Communities at My OMA.

The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) requires employers that participate in a group experience rating or group retrospective rating plan, and that sustain a claim, to complete two hours of safety training or complete BWC’s online accident analysis form and associated accident analysis course.  Each of these webinars qualifies for one-hour of BWC-mandated training.

OSHA Empowered to Increase Fines

November 20, 2015

OMA Connections Partner, Frantz Ward, reports that on November 2, 2015, when President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act (Act) of 2015 into law, a little-noticed change also went into law.  The Act changes the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 which specifically removed OSHA from the list of agencies that are exempt from having the ability to raise fines.  In other words, before this new law, OSHA’s fines stayed the same until Congress changed them.  According to Frantz Ward, OSHA will raise them right away and will increase them every year.

Read more from Frantz Ward about how this will affect employers charged with OSHA violations.

Turn BWC into a Policing Agency?

November 13, 2015

Rep. Wes Retherford (R – Hamilton) has introduced a bill, HB 355, that would turn the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) into an agency that would police businesses in their classifications of employees and independent contractors.

Under the bill, the BWC would be authorized to enter and inspect all of the offices and job sites maintained by an employer who is the subject of a complaint that an employer is misclassifying an employee.  The BWC would be authorized to issue stop work orders and fines.

For many many years, organized labor has attempted to create a de facto Department of Labor at the state level.  That’s what this one is after.  It is a really bad idea.

Firefighters’ Cancer Bill Receives Proponent Hearing

November 13, 2015

This week Senate Bill 27, sponsored by Senator Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) had its first hearing for proponent testimony.  The bill provides that a firefighter who is disabled as a result of specified types of cancer is presumed to have incurred the cancer while performing his or her job duties, thus creating eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.

The bill allows that the presumption can be rebutted if it can be proven that the cancer was directly caused by working conditions.  This is the opposite of Ohio’s asbestos statute which has become a national model.  The cancers covered under the bill include: cancers of the lung, brain, kidney, bladder, rectum, stomach, skin, or prostate; Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; leukemia; multiple myeloma; and testicular or colorectal cancer.

The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) produced an actuarial analysis of several bills including SB 27.  BWC estimates an additional 568 claims annually at an approximate cost of $75,345,000.  Much like SB 5, a pending bill that would provide workers’ compensation benefits for psychiatric claims of first responders where there is not also a corresponding physical injury/illness, this bill would create a major shift in Ohio’s workers’ compensation laws.

“A room full of rabbits”

November 6, 2015

This month the insurance industry trade website, Risk & Insurance, profiled the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, describing its turnaround from a drain on the Ohio economy to a responsive business partner under the leadership of Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer.  Read it here.