News and Analysis
With Independence Day weekend nearly here, members have raised questions about guidance for employees who are traveling, especially to areas experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The CDC recently revised its considerations for travelers within the U.S. The page contains:
- COVID Data Tracker, which includes this map showing the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in every U.S. county.
- Tips to protect yourself and others during your trip;
- Tips for overnight travel; and
- Frequently asked questions.
OMA Connections Partner Roetzel has published this recap of House Bill 81, recently signed by Gov. Mike DeWine to implement several important changes to the Ohio workers’ compensation system. The new law, which takes effect Sept. 14, includes a reduction in the statute of limitations for filing a violation of specific safety requirement (VSSR) application — reducing the threshold from two years to one.
Roetzel’s experts advise employers: “If an employee waits more than one year from the date of their injury or occupational disease to file their VSSR claim, such claim should be summarily rejected by the employer based upon a statute of limitations defense.” 6/30/2020
The end of July will bring deadlines for key programs under the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. By July 31, private employers:
- interested in participating in the Safety Council Rebate Program must enroll in a local safety council;
- participating in the Drug-Free Safety Program (DFSP) or Industry-Specific Safety Program (ISSP) must submit a Safety Management Self-Assessment (SH-26); and
- in their first program year of DFSP must complete online the accident-analysis training (new supervisors must complete the training within 60 days of becoming a supervisor).
In the meantime, employers should be receiving their 2019 true-up notice and can start reporting payroll online. 7/2/2020
Electrical safety violations continue to be among the top 10 standards cited by OSHA for manufacturers. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70E requirements provide guidance to protect workers from major electrical hazards, including shock, electrocution, arc flash, and arc blast.
Join the OMA on Thursday, July 9, for a 10 a.m. (ET) webinar conducted by Safex to address the NFPA 70E requirements and other means to reduce electrical hazards and avoid the most common electrical citations. 7/1/2020
This new report from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) shows that from March 11 to June 16, a total of 642 Ohio workers filed claims alleging they contracted COVID-19 on the job. More than 500 of those claimants wor in health care or as first responders, while the 123 remaining cases were filed by employees in other sectors of the economy. According to the report, 109 of the claims have already been rejected.
According to the BWC’s FAQ document (Question 5), whether a COVID-related workers’ compensation claim is compensable depends on how an employee contracts the virus and the nature of his/her occupation. “Generally, communicable diseases like COVID-19 are not workers’ compensation claims because people are exposed in a variety of ways, and few jobs have a hazard or risk of getting the diseases in a greater degree or a different manner than the general public,” the BWC notes. 6/24/2020
How cases of COVID-19 are covered by workers’ compensation depends on state law. OMA Connections Partner Fisher Phillips has updated its 50-state COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation chart that compares how states define an occupational disease, as well as legislative actions related to the pandemic.
Also, the firm is tracking lawsuits across the country that are a direct result of the pandemic and are traditional employee vs. employer cases — both individual plaintiff and class actions. 6/22/2020
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has released a new ad that urges all Americans to help get our economy roaring, protect jobs, and stop the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a face covering in public spaces.
NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said, “Today, we know that the best and most certain way to stop the spread is for everyone to wear a facial covering. It isn’t fun. It isn’t pleasant. But through shared responsibility, we can get this pandemic under control and save small businesses and jobs.” 6/25/2020
Here’s a reminder that the Ohio BWC’s annual employer payroll true-process for the July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020 policy year begins July 1. BWC premiums are based on payroll and each employer must reconcile actual payroll after each policy year. The process must be completed by August 15, since there has been no extension due to COVID-19.
General guidelines for reporting payroll — as well as some special payroll reporting changes due to the pandemic — can be found here. If you have questions about these reporting changes, email the Underwriting Classification Unit. 6/18/2020
Tuesday, June 30 is the deadline for new enrollments in Ohio BWC safety-related programs that can save employers money and increase safety.
- Drug-Free Safety Program (DFSP): BWC’s voluntary program to address workplace use and misuse of alcohol and other drugs. Rebates of 4% or 7% are available for meeting program requirements.
- Industry-Specific Safety Program (ISSP): BWC developed ISSP to encourage employers to use the many safety services and programs available through the Division of Safety & Hygiene. A rebate of 3% is awarded for program compliance.
- Transitional work bonus program: Employers with a transitional work plan actively participate in the recovery and return to work of their employees. The cost benefits may include reducing compensation payments and lowering claims reserves. Eligible state-fund employers may receive a 10% bonus.
Keep in mind that Group Retrospective Rating participants cannot receive rebates for these programs — and employers already participating in these programs will be automatically reconsidered. Contact your OMA workers’ compensation account manager or Brian Jackson to learn more. 6/18/2020
HR Dive has published this summary of a recent decision by a federal appeals court that declined to force OSHA to issue temporary emergency workplace standards during COVID-19. The AFL-CIO had requested an emergency standard on infectious diseases, while the U.S. Chamber sided with OSHA, supporting the agency’s approach of coupling existing safety standards with flexible, industry-specific guidance. 6/17/2020