News and Analysis
Governor Shelves Workers’ Comp Reforms?
The news media say that Governor Kasich has shelved plans to pursue legislative workers’ compensation reforms. The Toledo Blade on Wednesday reported: “No longer apparently on the front burner is major reform of Ohio’s workers’ compensation system, one of the things he named as a top priority upon taking office early this year. Among the ideas discussed was the injection of a private insurance element to compete with the state-run insurance fund for injured workers.”
The Columbus Dispatch followed up with a story on Thursday saying: “The governor has cooled months-long speculation (fueled in large part by his own rhetoric) that he would seek changes in workers’ compensation that might draw the ire of organized labor, namely privatization and benefit cuts. He’s said at least twice over the past several weeks, including on Tuesday, that for “major reforms” to occur, the state would “need both labor and management to sit down” and negotiate.
Kasich denies his call for collaboration is the result of the stinging defeat at the polls last week of Senate Bill 5 through Issue 2, but either way, he’s got a new problem if he truly seeks major workers’ compensation changes.
Neither Philip Fulton, a Columbus attorney for injured workers, nor Tim Burga, president of the AFL-CIO in Ohio, see a need for major reforms. Translation: They’re not inclined to negotiate.”
Chairmen of the BWC Board and the Industrial Commission Visit OMA
Industrial Commission Chair Karen Gillmor told members of the OMA’s Safety and Workers’ Compensation Committee this week that she will be working to identify improvement opportunities for hearing officer training. She also indicated an interest in finding ways to improve consistency in hearing outcomes. The committee also heard from Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Board Chairman Nicholas Zuk, Senior VP and General Counsel of White Castle. Zuk described anticipated rate reforms (see separate story).
Karen Gillmor is pictured with OMA Safety & Workers’ Compensation Committee Chairman Robert Truex of Lancaster Colony Corporation.
BWC Plans Group Rating Discount Change
The Chairman of the Board of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), Nick Zuk, addressed the OMA Safety & Workers’ Compensation Committee on Wednesday. He previewed the group rating discount changes that were reviewed later in the week by the Actuarial Committee of the BWC Board.
Chief among the changes are the elimination of the breakeven factor on group rating discounts and the setting of a new maximum group rating discount.
The breakeven factor is an actuarial tool used to minimize the subsidization of non-group rated employers’ premiums by group rated employers. It was implemented in 2009.
According to Zuk, the breakeven factor was disliked and difficult to understand.
A new maximum group rating discount would be set at 53 percent, effective July 1, 2012. The maximum group rating discount is currently 65 percent, but with the breakeven factor produces an effective discount of 51 percent.
The full Board is expected to vote the rating changes on November 18.
The BWC is also considering program changes that are intended to improve injured worker return-to-work performance and cut administrative costs.
Chairmen of BWC Board and Industrial Commission to Speak at OMA on November 9
Chairman of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors, Nicholas (Nick) W. Zuk, White Castle System, Inc. Senior Vice President & General Counsel and Secretary is scheduled to visit with the OMA Safety & Workers’ Compensation committee on Wednesday, November 9 as is Karen Gillmor, Chairman, Public Member, of the Industrial Commission of Ohio.
Participate in person or a call-in option is available. Either way, please register to attend. OMA committee meetings begin at 10:00 a.m. and run through Noon, with a networking lunch provided by the OMA following. Meetings are held at the OMA offices, 33 N. High St., 6th floor, Columbus.
To make sure you always receive Safety & Workers’ Compensation committee meeting notices as well as the committee materials in your email, go to My OMA and subscribe to the workers’ compensation management community or email Judy Thompson. This is a free service for OMA members.
BWC Safety Grants Available to Ohio Employers
Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Stephen Buehrer announced 10 Ohio businesses received more than $217,000 in safety intervention grants in September to improve workplace safety. Follow the link to see which employers received recent grants.
The Safety Intervention Grant program is designed to assist Ohio employers in reducing illness and injuries, and create a partnership with them to establish best practices for accident and injury prevention.
Ohio private and public employers are eligible for the grants, which provide a 2-to-1 matching amount up to a maximum of $40,000 for a total of $60,000 — $20,000 from the employer and $40,000 from BWC. Quarterly data reports and follow-up case studies help BWC to determine the effectiveness of employers’ safety interventions and establish best practices.
BWC GrowOhio Program Up and Running for New Ohio Businesses
OMA members may have customers or suppliers or start-up businesses that are new to Ohio and that might qualify for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) premium discount program expressly for new Ohio employers: GrowOhio.
New employers can select a 25% discount or enroll in a group-rating program outside of the normal annual deadline.
OMA Member Uses BWC’s OSHA On-Site Consultation Program for Safety
Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) administrator, Steve, Buehrer, recently visited OMA member, Aluminum Line Products Company (ALPCO), West Lake, to spotlight safe workplaces.
ALPCO is among a select group of only 27 Ohio employers that have been granted SHARP (Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program) certification by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) On-Site Consultation Program. Each year, the program recognizes and re-certifies small, high-hazard employers across the country for excellence in occupational safety-and-health management systems.
BWC and its OSHA On-Site Consultation program works with companies like ALPCO to make their facilities safer. The OSHA On-Site Consultation Program is jointly funded by the BWC and federal OSHA. Services include free on-site safety inspections and consultation, safety program assistance, safety and hygiene training or seminars, and printed and electronic resources.
Unlike the federal OSHA program, OSHA On-Site Consultation does not have right of entry to a workplace and it does not issue citations or fines. An employer must request the service, and has a mutually agreed-upon timeframe within which to correct any safety hazards identified.
Employers who abate the hazards identified in their workplaces and maintain an exemplary safety record may qualify for OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP).
OSHA Publishes New/Revised Safety Materials
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published new and revised information that explains workers’ and employers’ rights.
To order free copies of these materials online, visit OSHA’s publications page or call OSHA at (800) 321-6742.
Employers are interested in understanding their rights and responsibilities following a federal OSHA inspection. The booklet, Employer Rights and Responsibilities, explains what happens after an inspection, and defines the types of violations for which an employer may be cited as well as remedies and recourses available to employers.
OSHA Extends Comment Period on Proposed Tracking and Reporting Requirement Revisions
According to its release, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is reopening the rulemaking record to extend the comment period on revising the recordkeeping and reporting requirements for work-related injuries and illnesses. OSHA is extending the comment period in response to a stakeholder request. Individuals interested in submitting comments have until October 28, 2011.
Under the revised proposal, employers would be required to report to OSHA any work-related fatalities and all in-patient hospitalizations within eight hours, and work-related amputations within 24 hours. OSHA’s current regulation requires employers to report to OSHA, within eight hours, all work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees.
BWC Board Gives OK to New Employer Discount Program
At its meeting this week, the Bureau of workers’ Compensation (BWC) board of directors voted to approve a new discount program only for Ohio’s new state fund employers, called Grow Ohio.
All new employers will receive a 25% discount on their workers’ compensation premiums unless they elect to participate in group rating or another program that is incompatible with the Grow Ohio discount. The discount will be applied to the new employer’s total blended premium, and will be applied for the payroll period in which the employer’s coverage becomes effective and the four consecutive payroll periods thereafter.
The rule also allows new employers, alternately, to opt to participate in group rating in their first policy year.
Astute Leadership Briefing readers will recall that OMA went on the record with the BWC as opposing “… any program that forces one group of Ohio businesses to pay inflated premiums to offset the cost of unearned discounts given to another class of Ohio businesses,” among other concerns.