News and Analysis
Class Action Suit Active in Cuyahoga County
Employers have reported receiving notice of a workers’ compensation class action law suit filed in Cuyahoga County. The case known as San Allen vs. Stephen Buehrer alleges that the BWC charged excessive workers’ compensation premium rates to non-group rated employers for the policy years 2001 to 2008.
According to OMA counsel, Tom Sant of Bricker & Eckler LLP, “The suit has lain dormant for several years while the Courts determined whether it should be granted class action status. Having received that status the case is moving forward with the letter being the first indicator of that.”
Industrial Commission Reports Activities and Regulatory Changes
Since 1912, the Industrial Commission (IC) has been Ohio’s forum for appealing Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and self-insured employer decisions. The IC conducts more than 150,000 hearings each fiscal year.
Annually, the IC publishes a fiscal report and a newsletter recapping its activities, undertakings, and regulatory changes. The newsletter contains relevant Supreme Court decisions. Workers’ compensation managers will want to review these reports.
BWC Continues to Prepare for New Employer Programs
OSHA Issues National Emphasis Program for Chemical Facilities
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) for chemical facilities to protect workers from catastrophic releases of highly hazardous chemicals.
The intent of the NEP is to conduct focused inspections at facilities randomly selected from a list of worksites likely to have highly hazardous chemicals in quantities covered by the standard.
OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics Web page on Process Safety Management contains guidance on how to develop a process hazard analysis and OSHA requirements for preventing the release of hazardous chemicals.
Picture It Safe
In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Occupational Health & Safety Administration held the Picture It!: Safe Workplaces for Everyone photo contest. The contest challenged anyone with a passion for photography to capture an image of workplace safety and health and share it with OSHA. More than 300 submissions were received portraying a wide range of industries and activities.
Winners were selected by an expert panel of judges that included Earl Dotter, photojournalist; Carl Fillichio, the Department of Labor’s Senior Advisor for Communications and Public Affairs; Kathleen Klech, photography director for Condé Nast Traveler magazine; and Shawn Moore, the chief photographer for the Department of Labor.
BWC Receives Clean Audit from State of Ohio
State Auditor Dave Yost’s office turned in a clean audit report on the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC,) which earned the BWC an Auditor of State Award. The audit was completed by Schneider Downs and accepted by Auditor Yost. The Auditor of State Award is presented to public entities that meet the criteria of a “clean” audit report.
Workers’ Compensation Trends for 2012
As 2011 rapidly draws to a close, businesses looking ahead to 2012 should be mindful of the following workers’ compensation trends as they may increase a company’s operating costs: Click here for full article. From OMA Connections Partner, Roetzel & Andress
BWC Gears Up for Employer Product Focus
This week the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) held a meeting for stakeholders to describe its Destination: Excellence program, a set of programs and incentives for employers that are intended to prevent injuries and return workers to work more quickly. There are also incentives for employers that interact with the BWC exclusively online.
The BWC board of directors will vote the proposal this month; if the board approves the proposal, the new programs and program changes will be effective July 1, 2012.
As the program is finalized, OMA will advise members of potential opportunities. The OMA will also look for the BWC to provide actuarial analyses of the various program changes.
While some of the new programs have premium rebates and discounts, BWC administrator Steve Buehrer, has prohibited workers’ compensation third party administrators and sponsors from advertising these discounts as adders to group rating discounts. If you receive a group rating proposal with greater than a 53% discount, the newly approved maximum, you should contact the BWC.
Workers’ Compensation Cases in the Courts
OMA workers’ compensation counsel, Tom Sant, of Bricker & Eckler LLP draws attention to three workers’ compensation cases, all filed in Cuyahoga County, that are of interest to employers.
A class action suit, Cristino v. BWC, in which the claimants complain that the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) underpaid claims settlements.
Another class action case, Sam Allen, Inc. et al v. Administrator, BWC, alleges that the BWC’s workers’ compensation group rating plan is unconstitutional and harms non group rated employers.
Finally, in Larry Hewitt v. The L. E. Myers Company, a jury found in favor of the claimant against his employer under Ohio’s intentional tort statute; the employer has appealed.
We’ll continue to monitor and report the outcomes of these cases as they potentially affect manufacturers.
OMA Workers’ Compensation Group Rating Savings Projections Roll
With the ground rules now established for the program, the OMA will be sending today and early next week emails and faxes indicating projected savings for 2012-13 to its qualified group rated members and prospects. Enrollment kits will be sent via U.S. mail in two weeks.
Ending a group-rating marketing moratorium on TPAs, the Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) board of directors voted today to ratify a recommendation from the board’s actuarial committee to set the maximum group rating discount for the 2012-13 policy year at 53%. It is currently 65%, but with the breakeven factor, produces an effective maximum discount of 51%.
The board also voted to eliminate the breakeven factor, an actuarial device that had been used to minimize the subsidization of non-group rated employers’ premium by group rated employers.
Contact your account manager, Georgia Booth, Jay Kemo, Barb Raduege, or member services director, Greg Vergamini, for information.