News and Analysis
This week Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator and CEO Sarah Morrison defended the agency’s proposed budget, HB 27, in testimony. Administrator Morrison testified that the budget request is flat from the previous budget and highlighted, that over the last six years, private employer rates have dropped an average of 28.2%, saving employers $755 million. She presented the agency’s strategic priorities and accomplishments.
The bill proposes several policy changes that Morrison explained, including:
- Expediting compensation to employees awarded temporary total disability (TTD) where they don’t have ready access to required wage documentation, which delays their compensation. The BWC proposes to pay minimum calculable TTD payments to an injured worker until the calculation can be completed to determine the proper amount. BWC will subsequently true-up TTD compensation.
- Streamlining operations to dismiss the backlog of more than 20,000 suspended applications for permanent partial disability (PPD), so called “C-92” applications, while preserving injured workers rights to PPD. Currently, there is no mechanism to dismiss the C-92 application other than death of the injured worker.
- Allowing the agency and stakeholders to communicate electronically where appropriate, instead of by mail.
The House will continue hearings on the bill. 2/23/2017
Businesses and injured workers who use the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s automated phone system, 1-800-644-6292, will see security changes intended to better protect their sensitive information.
Beginning this week, callers will need more than just their policy or claim number. Injured workers will also be asked for the last four digits of their social security number and their date of injury. Businesses will be asked for their federal tax ID number (FEIN or SSN) and the ZIP code for the mailing address on the policy. 2/13/2017
The 2017 Ohio Safety Congress & Expo (OSC17), sponsored by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, is less than a month away. There is no charge to attend!
By attending the safety congress, you and your team will learn to:
- Prevent workplace injuries and illnesses;
- Achieve better outcomes for injured workers; and
- Reduce workers’ compensation claims costs.
There are more than 200 educational sessions.
- 94% of OSC16 attendees believed that there is a potential to impact their organizations after attending this event;
- OSC16 achieved a 93% attendee satisfaction rate; and
- Almost 90% of the attendees claimed they would implement what they learned in their workplaces.
The General Assembly has introduced both the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) budget (HB 27) and the Industrial Commission budget (HB 28). The bills, which are historically filed separately from the State Operating Budget, usually have a swift passage by the General Assembly.
A summary of policy changes in the introduced versions is included in this comparison document, and BWC prepared this summary of budget facts. Hearings are expected to begin shortly in the House. 2/9/2017
Employers are reminded to post their OSHA Form 300A, Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, between February 1, 2017 and April 30, 2017. The Form 300A lists the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred during the previous year and must be posted even if no work-related injuries or illnesses occurred during the year. It should be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted so that employees are aware of the injuries and illnesses occurring in the workplace.
A company executive must certify that he or she has examined the OSHA 300 Log and that he or she reasonably believes—based on his or her knowledge of the process by which the information was recorded—that the annual summary is correct and complete. 2/1/2017
In a 5-2 opinion of State ex rel. Cordell v. Pallet Cos., Inc., the Supreme Court of Ohio found that the Ohio Industrial Commission abused its discretion by denying the claimant’s application for temporary-total disability (TTD) compensation after he was terminated following a workplace injury for violation of a work rule that occurred before the injury and was discovered as a result of the injury.
This case, which involves an employee’s violation of his employer’s drug-free workplace policy, and subsequent compensable injury, is of interest to virtually all employers.
Justices O’Donnell and Kennedy dissented from the majority opinion.
Earlier this month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliation Programs.
OMA Connections Partner Frantz Ward highlights some of the key items recommended by OSHA for an effective anti-retaliation program and advises: “To the degree that OSHA applies this Guidance in connection with investigations of alleged retaliation, employers should have a record that they considered and, to the degree applicable to their circumstances, adopted recommendations from it.” 1/23/2017
Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison this week announced 41 employers will share more than $942,000 in grants to purchase equipment designed to substantially reduce or eliminate workplace injuries and illnesses.
The BWC commits $15 million to the safety grant program each year.
Here is a listing of recipients by county, including descriptions of planned equipment purchases.
The Safety Intervention Grant program provides employers with a 3-to-1 matching amount up to a maximum of $40,000. Quarterly data reports and follow-up case studies help BWC determine the effectiveness of employers’ safety interventions and establish best practices for accident and injury prevention. Learn more about the Safety Intervention Grant Program.
View stories about previous grant recipients on BWC’s YouTube channel. 1/25/2017
OSHA issued a rule on Jan. 6 that lowers workplace exposure to beryllium, a metal that can be hazardous to workers when particles are inhaled through dust or fumes during processing.
The new standards will lower the eight-hour permissible exposure limit to beryllium from 2.0 to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air. When concentrations exceed those limits, employers will be required to take additional measures to protect workers.
The rule becomes effective on March 10, 2017, after which employers have one year to implement most provisions. For more information, see OSHA’s beryllium final rule webpage. 1/18/2017
Registration is now open for the 2017 Ohio Safety Congress & Expo (OSC17), the largest regional safety and health conference in the U.S. The event, sponsored by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), will run March 8-10 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
OSC17 will feature more than 200 educational sessions presented by experts from across the country covering topics related to occupational safety and health, wellness, rehabilitation, controlling claims costs and medical treatment of injured workers.
An expo marketplace will also host more than 200 exhibitors. Come visit OMA at booth #434!
Attendance is free for Ohio employers and their employees. Registration and course listings are available here. 1/7/2017