News and Analysis
At its meeting last week, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) board of directors approved a 20 percent reduction in the average premium rate it collects from private employers. The reduction is BWC’s largest in nearly 60 years.
Overall, the average rate levels for the 242,000 Ohio employers in the BWC system are at their lowest in at least 40 years.
The 20 percent rate cut represents an average statewide change. The actual total premium paid by individual private employers depends on a number of factors, including the expected future claims costs in their industry, their company’s recent claims history, participation in various BWC rebate programs as well as assessments collected to fund the operations of the system. The board will consider these assessment rates during its next meeting in March.
The reduction will be effective beginning July 1. 2/25/2019
McCloud testified: “In comparison to our last budget, this budget reflects an 8.7% increase over the adjusted appropriations for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. This increase can largely be attributed to the 27th additional pay period in fiscal year 2020, the 2.75% increase in wages due to the last collective bargaining agreement and additional support for our Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program. The increase would support expanding the program to other counties and providing support staff to ensure the program is running efficiently and appropriately.”
The bill, which is mainly an appropriations bill, will become a political football over the next several months as business and labor work to make changes to the agency that benefit their constituencies. 2/28/2019
BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud was a special guest presenter at OMA’s Safety & Workers’ Compensation committee meeting this week. Shown with committee chairman, Larry Holmes, Vice President – Finance & Administration, Fort Recovery Industries, Inc.
This week Tim Bainbridge, Chairman of the Industrial Commission of Ohio (OIC), provided testimony in support of his agency’s budget, House Bill 79. Bainbridge testified: “In order to accommodate statutory payroll adjustments and an increase in wages due to the last collective bargaining agreement, the Industrial Commission is requesting an increase in its total budget of 5.7%.”
The function of the OIC is to adjudicate contested workers’ compensation claims. Bainbridge said this in testimony: “In calendar year 2018, our 82 hearing officers, all of whom are licensed attorneys, adjudicated over 114,000 claims. ”
The bill appropriates funding for the agency of 335 staff over the next two years and is required to be passed and signed into law by the end of June. 2/28/2019
Last week the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) announced that the painkiller OxyContin, widely blamed for the nation’s opioid crisis, will no longer be newly prescribed for injured workers in the BWC system starting July 1.
Following a recommendation from BWC Chief Medical Officer Terry Welsh, the agency’s board of directors voted to drop the drug from the BWC formulary and replace it with what Welsh calls “an equally effective but harder-to-abuse drug” named Xtampza ER.
Welsh added the move was recommended by BWC’s Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, a diverse group of pharmacists and prescribing physicians who advise the bureau on matters regarding appropriate prescription and authorization of medicines. 2/22/2019
OMA Connections Partner Working Partners(R) is scheduled to present four sessions at next week’s Ohio Safety Congress that will help you strengthen your drug-free workplace policy and practices:
- Audit your drug-free workplace policy and program
- Ask the experts: Running a best-practice drug-free program
- New drug trends threatening Ohio’s workforce and workplace
- Medical marijuana and your workplace: How are you responding?
And while you’re there, say hi to the OMA team at booth #304! We have snacks courtesy of OMA member Pepperidge Farm! 2/28/2019
Governor Mike DeWine last week submitted to the General Assembly his recommendations for funding the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and the Ohio Industrial Commission (OIC) for the upcoming 2020-2021 budget biennium.
The appropriated budgets for BWC and OIC cover the agencies’ administrative operations and are supported by workers’ compensation premiums paid by Ohio employers. Benefits, including lost wages and medical benefits for injured workers, are paid separately from the State Insurance Fund.
The BWC’s recommended operating budget reflects the previously announced proposal to reduce the average premium rate BWC charges private employers by 20%, effective July 1, 2019.
Governor DeWine is also recommending these priority investments:
- A multi-million dollar increase to BWC’s Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program, which helps employers hire and retain workers recovering from substance use disorders.
- $2 million to create a new Safety and Health Center of Excellence to test and deploy advances in science and technology to prevent occupational accidents, injuries, and illnesses.
- $40 million over the biennium for safety grants.
BWC created the Safety Innovation Award program to recognize innovations that result in risk reduction, cost savings, and potential application to other workplaces, industries or operations. Innovations can range from a newly-created piece of equipment, tool, process or method to an existing one that an employer has improved or uses in a new or creative way.
This year’s finalists are:
- Francis Manufacturing Company (Russia) – Hapman Sand Conveyance System
- J&R Farms (Mount Vernon) – Grain Engulfment Prevention/Retrieval System
- TERYDON Inc. (Navarre) – Touch-Screen Tablet Wireless Control (a.k.a. “Lunch Box”)
- Yoder Drilling & Geothermal Inc. (Sugarcreek) – Geothermal Grouter Pipe/Loop Reel
Read summaries of the award-winning projects here. The finalists will be on hand at the Safety Innovation Awards booth at the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo 2019 (OSC19) March 6-8 in Columbus. Stop by to learn more about the innovations when you’re at OSC19.
(And visit the OMA team at booth #304!) 2/20/2019
At its meeting today, the board of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is voting a proposed 20% reduction in the average premium rate charged to private employers. It would be the largest rate cut in nearly 60 years.
Fewer workplace injuries and falling estimates of future medical costs are credited with the proposed rate reduction.
If approved, the rate reduction would be effective July 1 and is projected to save private employers $244 million over premiums for fiscal year 2019. 2/21/2019
BWC’s next employer webinar will be Thursday, Feb. 28 at 11:30 a.m.
The webinar will cover policy reminders and important dates, the Better You, Better Ohio! health and wellness program, the Policy Activity Rebate program, buying and/or selling a business, an Ohio Industrial Commission overview and the monthly safety tip.
Register to attend here. 2/16/2019
First, employers are reminded of their obligation to post a copy of OSHA Form 300A, which summarizes job-related injuries and illnesses logged during 2018. Each year, from February 1 through April 30, the summary must be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted.
Second, covered establishments are required to electronically submit to OSHA information from OSHA Form 300A. The deadline for submission is March 2, 2019. More info here. 2/11/2019