News and Analysis
If you’re enrolled in the Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) 50/50 Payment Plan, your second payment is due June 3. You can make your payment online. The 50/50 Payment Plan provides employers more time to pay premiums online by allowing them to split their premium into two payments.
In a new blog post from OMA Connections Partner, Roetzel and Andress, we learn that Ohio does not permit the filing of a workers’ compensation claim in Ohio if a claimant or the dependents involved in a workers’ compensation claim have been granted an allowed claim in another state. This was tested in the case of Smiley v. Professional Staff Mgt. Inc.
In this case, the claimant’s employer was located in Indiana; the claimant resided in Ohio. The employer filed a claim for the claimant in Indiana, which was allowed and both medical bills and compensation were paid in this claim.
Later, the claimant filed a claim in Ohio. This claim was denied by the Industrial Commission of Ohio, then by the Common Pleas Court, and the decision was also upheld by the Court of Appeals.
In reaction to the BWC’s announcement that it plans to rebate $1 billion in employer premiums, enrich its safety grant program by $10 million, and transition from a retrospective premium payment schedule to a prospective schedule, waiving $900 million in premiums in the process, the OMA posed questions to the BWC.
Here are our questions and the BWC’s responses.
With the Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) announcement last week that it will refund $1 billion to the state's employers, enrich the safety grant program by $10 million, and plan for a premium payment schedule change that will create a $900 million benefit to employers in waived premiums, employers have a lot of questions.
OMA has compiled a list of questions and has contacted the BWC to supply the answers. We'll keep you posted as we learn more. OMA Connections Partner, Dinsmore, has a good write-up.
Here’s a short video that summarizes best practices in workers’ compensation claims investigation.
OMA lead workers’ compensation account manager, Barb Raduege, gives advice from her 25-plus years of experience.
The video includes tips, tools and forms that save employers time and improve processes.
This week Governor Kasich and Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Administrator Steve Buehrer announced a proposal to pay a $1 billion dividend to private employers and public-taxing districts that pay into Ohio’s workers’ compensation system.
More than 210,000 private businesses and public entities would receive approximately 56% of their annual premium in the July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 policy period. If approved by the BWC board of directors this month, checks could be mailed as early as June.
Additionally, to modernize the premium payment system, the BWC announced its intention to ask the legislature for permission to move to a prospective premium payment system over the current retrospective payment system. The BWC board will be asked to approve $900 million in transition costs to protect employers from having to pay two periods' of premium at the same time.
Finally, the BWC is expanding its Safety Grant Program pool from $5 million to $15 million to support workplace safety.
On April 5, 2013 OHSA released an interpretation letter stating that employees in a non-union facility may select a union official to act as the employees' official representative during OSHA’s walk through inspections of private facilities.
The letter was in response to a question from the United Steelworkers Union. In order to make its new interpretation perfectly clear, OHSA took the step of rescinding an older letter that may have conflicted with the new interpretation.
Read a summary from OMA Connections Partner, Roetzel and Andress.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation proposed a 2.1% base-rate reduction for private employers at the BWC Board of Directors’ Actuarial Committee this week. The recommendation would reduce employer premiums by $29 million for the July 1, 2014 policy year. The measure requires the approval of the BWC board next month.
The actual premium paid by individual private employers depends on a number of factors, including their industry, their recent claims history and expected future costs, and their participation in discount and savings programs.
In other business, the board's Audit Committee heard a proposal to maintain the bureau's discount rate at 4%. The discount rate reflects the assumed future rate of return on investments and is factored into the bureau's reserve levels and premium pricing.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) recognized OMA member Ghent Manufacturing, Lebanon, for its work in preventing on-the-job accidents and injuries during the second annual Safety Innovations Award competition. BWC Administrator & CEO, Steve Buehrer, presented the award during BWC’s annual Safety Congress & Expo 2013 last week.
The Safety Innovations Award recognizes development of innovative ergonomic and/or safety solutions. A panel of experts judge the categories of risk reduction, cost effectiveness, simplicity and innovation.
Ghent won in the innovation category with its material handling project, which increased safety, quality and efficiency in handling thin gauge steel sheets. Ghent financed its project in part with a BWC safety grant.
The Bureau of Workers' Compensation Division of Safety & Hygiene has just published its 2013/14 Safety Services Catalog. This publication describes the money-saving Destination Excellence programs, as well as all the safety training courses and resources available free to Ohio state-fund employers.
With April 30 as the next enrollment deadline, employers want to know about the benefits of the Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) drug-free safety program. OMA Connections Partner, Working Partners(R), offers a choice of three free webinar times for employers to learn more.
This week Judge Richard McMonagle of the Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas ordered the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation to refund $859 million for charging excessive insurance premiums to approximately 260,000 non-group rated employers over an eight year period. Refunds for the employers would range from millions of dollars to pennies. The bureau issued a statement disagreeing with the order and putting the court on notice that it intends to appeal.
The Ohio Safety Congress & Expo is April 9-11 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. This year, there are industry- and role-specific fliers to help attendees find the most relevant sessions. Here are suggested sessions for those in the chemical industry and industrial hygiene profession, those in manufacturing, those who are in the early development - or redevelopment - stage with their safety program, and who manage claims as human resources or workers' compensation directors.
With an April 30 deadline for participation in a number of cost-saving Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) programs, it’s a good time to assess your opportunities. BWC calls its collection of cost-saving, safety-focused programs Destination: Excellence (video).
The programs that have an April 30 deadline include the: drug-free safety program, group retrospective rating program, large & small deductible programs, industry-specific safety program, transitional work bonus program, and one claim program.
OMA Connections Partner, Dinsmore & Shohl, provides a summary of a recent Ohio Supreme Court decision, favorable to Ohio employers, that clarified the circumstances under which an employer can be found to have committed an “employment intentional tort.” The Court’s decision, in Hewitt v. L.E. Myers Co., supports that an employer will not have unanticipated liability for an “intentional” tort where an employee makes a choice not to utilize available personal protective equipment.
However, the removal of an actual safety guard from a machine will continue to create potential liability under the statute.
The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has scheduled free 90-minute seminars from March 12 to March 21 introducing Destination: Excellence, BWC’s bundle of programs that can help to increase workplace safety, improve injured worker care, and lower workers’ compensation costs.
Participants will learn the details of Destination: Excellence, including the benefits, eligibility requirements, implementation requirements, and financial incentives of enrollment. Programs covered include: Drug-Free Safety Program, Industry-Specific Safety Program, Safety Councils, Transitional Work Bonus Program, and Vocational Rehabilitation.
The 2013 Ohio Safety Congress & Expo will be April 9 to 11 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Here's an event preview with the schedule of events and more details. Free registration at 1-800-OHIOBWC or ohiobwc.com.
At the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) board of directors meeting last week, staff proposed several rule changes governing self-insured employers and updated directors about a series of operating improvements made with respect to Ohio’s self-insured book of business.
The rule changes proposed included permitting self-insured employers in good standing to submit multiple forms of security and eliminating multiple Self-Insured Employer Guaranty Fund (SIEGF) assessments on employers with subsidiaries.
Among its operating improvements, the BWC reduced the SIEGF assessment by 24% in 2012 by more effectively managing defaulted claims.
Jodie Taylor was named chair of the Ohio Industrial Commission effective February 13, 2013. Taylor has been the employer member of the Commission since July 2009. She previously served as chair of the commission from January 2011 to July 2011. She replaces former chair Karen Gillmor who will remain one of the three appointed Commissioners.
Ohio private employers have until February 28, 2013 to file payroll reports and pay workers’ compensation premiums to the Bureau of workers' Compensation (BWC) for the July 1 through December 31, 2012, period.
The BWC offers these policy payment incentives: 1) Early payment discount (aka FlexPay) – pre-pay your premiums online and receive discounts for early payment; 2) Go-green discount – report your company’s payroll electronically and pay your premiums in full on ohiobwc.com for a potential discount of 1 percent (up to $1,000) every six months; 3) Lapse-free discount – pay your premiums on time and have no lapse in coverage during the past 60 months for a potential discount of 1 percent (up to $1,000) every six months.
To see which of these and other BWC programs your company could be eligible for, see OMA's BWC Program Eligibility tool.
Last week the 8th District Court of Appeals dismissed the Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) appeal in the San Allen class action lawsuit. The court's rationale: The appeal was premature as the hearing for damages had yet to take place at the trial court. The BWC plans to appeal after the March trial court hearing on damages.
On February 4, 2013, the Third District Court of Appeals of Ohio decided the case of Serraino v. Fauster-Cameron, Inc. The plaintiff, Lindamarie Serraino worked as a medical technologist for Fauster-Cameron, Inc., when she allegedly contracted salmonella poisoning from a contaminated lunch served in the clinic’s break room in 2005. Ms. Serraino filed a workers’ compensation claim. Why was the claim ruled non-compensable? Read on. From OMA Connections Partner, Roetzel & Andress
The medical reform language contained in the budget proposed by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) did not last long. It has been stripped out of the bill.
The language would allow for better care management of injured workers, something long sought by the OMA and its members. The chairman of the committee that has House jurisdiction over workers’ compensation, Rep. Robert Hackett (R-London), indicated that the medical reforms will be incorporated in a separate bill to be introduced by Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Monclova Township).
The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) recently recognized OMA member Haltec Corporation in Columbiana County for attaining Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) status through the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). The company is one of 26 SHARP-certified Ohio employers.
The company is a leading manufacturer of tire valves, tire management and inflation solutions, and employs more than 85 Ohioans in Salem. Congratulations Haltec team!
In the budget bill for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), Administrator Steve Buehrer proposes to lower expenditures in the coming biennium, just as occurred in the current biennium.
The proposal would appropriate $283.6 million for fiscal year 2014 and $267 million for FY 2015. This is a nearly 5 percent decrease compared to the original FY 2012 - 2013 appropriation, which was a 12 percent decrease from the previous biennium.
The bureau budget is contained in House Bill 34, sponsored by Representative Bob Hackett (R-London).
The bill takes a small, but significant, step in medical reform. It would require an injured worker to use a health care provider within a managed care organization’s network if the individual shows no improvement 45 days after the injury under treatment with his or her current provider.
In other states, employers are able to closely manage the quality of medical care of injured workers. Not in Ohio. Ohio is stuck in an outdated adversarial model of care that compromises quality and drives up cost.
These are the meeting materials that support the February 6, 2013 OMA Safety & Workers' Compensation Committee meeting.
The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and the Industrial Commission budgets are expected to be introduced in the legislature next week. Look for some administrative and medical reforms that would improve performance of the system.
The OMA Safety and Workers’ Compensation Committee will discuss these budgets when it meets on February 6. Additionally, BWC Chief Actuary, Chris Carlson, will address the committee about initiatives under his leadership. Register here.
In this blog by OMA Connections Partner, Roetzel & Andress, we learn that Holmes v. Crawford Machine, Inc., was heard by the Ohio Supreme Court to resolve conflicting lower court decisions about how much of the claimant's attorney fees and court costs the employer was liable for.
Now former Justice McGee Brown determined that the claimant could collect all statutory - not apportioned - attorney fees and court costs because his pinky finger injury was a legitimate workers' compensation injury, and therefore eligible to appeal into Ohio court system, even though all other alleged conditions were found not compensable under the workers' compensation system.
Employers are urged to cautiously consider court appeals of workers' compensation disputes. Consult an OMA workers' compensation account manager.
Ohio's largest safety learning event, the Ohio Safety Congress, sponsored by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, will be held April 9 -11 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Registration is now open.
In Perez v. Univ. Hosp. Sys. (2012), a dispute arose over the extension of the statute of limitations in a prior workers’ compensation claim for a low back injury. Read about how the employer ultimately prevailed in Common Pleas Court. From OMA Connections Partner, Roetzel & Andress
OMA just posted a new recorded webinar to its Online Video Library, Recordkeeping and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. Subject matter expert, Dianne Grote Adams (MS, CSP, CIH, CPEA) of OMA Connections Partner, Safex, gives practical advice about what is and what is not recordable.
Start your year of OSHA reporting on the right foot. Content in the OMA Online Video Library is free, but members must log in.
And don't forget to post your OSHA 300A log in a conspicuous location, certified by the highest ranking company executive in your facility, February 1 through April 30.
For several years, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has required an employer that participates in a group experience rating or group retrospective rating plan, and that sustains a claim within the “green year” or the previous year, to complete two hours of safety training.
Effective as of January 1, 2013, the BWC amended its administrative rule in two important ways: 1) only claims in the “green” year will now trigger the incremental safety requirement and not claims in the prior year (right now, the green year is 2011), and 2) employers will be able to, in lieu of the two hours of safety training, complete the BWC’s online accident analysis form and the bureau's associated online safety class.
Here is BWC’s FAQ about this change. The sixth question contains guidance about how to access the online accident form and safety class.
For employers that need to comply and that opt for the two hours of training, the OMA will have qualifying no-charge safety webinars in March, April and May, and will communicate separately to affected employers in time to take advantage of these webinars.
The Bureau of Workers' Compensationa nnounced that it is adding or clarifying rules that are intended to improve access to and quality of medical services for the state's injured workers.
One set of rules add a number of healthcare professionals to those that can be certified to treat injured workers, including adult day care facilities, anesthesiologist assistants, independent diagnostic testing facilities, and sleep laboratories. The additions are the result of BWC's engagement with healthcare professionals.
Provider certification requirements have been strengthened to bring them more in line with nationally recognized standards. These include an expanded review of all providers' credentials to identify those whose licenses are under suspension or revocation, or are subject to disciplinary restrictions in another state.
Decertification protocols for providers with repeated violations of workers' compensation rules or statutes have been clarified.
With its new focus, "Prevention + Care," the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is rolling out a claims triage program in its customer services offices in the first quarter of this year.
The BWC says that claims triage is its new model of handling claims based on their levels of complexities. It involves moving from a "generalist concept to a specialist concept."
The roles of the claims service specialists (CSSs) in the service offices will become: intake specialists, return-to-work (RTW) specialists, and remain-at-work (RAW) specialists.
As part of the claims triage process BWC indicates its staff will work closely with managed care organizations, employers, and injured workers to help return injured workers to work. Here’s a model letter BWC says it will send to some employers.
OMA Connections Partner, Dinsmore, attorney, George Wilkinson, offers his summary of the San Allen et. al. v. Steven Buehrer, Administrator, Bureau of Workers' Compensation class action decision which says that employers that did not participate in group experience rating from 2001 - 2009 were overcharged premium and are owed restitution.
Due to the significant sum, and the calculation complexities, this case will be in litigation for a long time to come.
OMA Connections Partner, Roetzel & Andress, provides additional detail about the class action suit filed against the Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC): “The case was filed in 2007 by Corky & Lenny's, a suburban Cleveland deli, on behalf of a class that may include up to 270,000 small Ohio employers. The plaintiffs claimed that employers that were not permitted into groups organized by third-party administrators throughout the state paid excessive premiums into the BWC's state insurance fund in order to subsidize deep discounts that were offered to employers that did qualify for group membership.”
And: “While the complaint initially alleged that damages to those employers could exceed $1.7 billion, counsel for the plaintiffs conceded that the damages were actually more in the neighborhood of $800 million.”
In the Court of Common Pleas of Cuyahoga County, Judge Richard McGonagle has issued an opinion in San Allen, Inc. et al. v. Stephen Buehrer, Administrator, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), agreeing with the plaintiffs that the BWC overcharged employers not participating in group experience rating (group) during the years of 2001-2009.
The opinion found that the BWC undercharged premium to employers in group, and overcharged employers not in group.
The Court has ordered the BWC to make restitution to employers in the class, refunding any overpaid premium offset by any amount of underpayment for employers that benefited from group participation in the coverage years of the case. The plaintiffs did not present a winning argument regarding interest on the overpayments.
A final global figure of restitution has yet to be submitted to the Court. The plaintiffs are to use the “Schwartz formula,” referring to Allen Schwartz, the plaintiff’s actuarial expert, to calculate its final restitution figure, less interest, and are to submit that figure to the Court by January 28, 2013. The BWC is given until February 28, 2013 to object. A hearing on the final restitution figure is set for March 14, 2013 at 1:00 p.m.