News and Analysis
The BWC has seen its investments drop by about 12.5% for the month due to the COVID-19 outbreak and its effect on the stock market. The BWC board, which met Thursday, March 19, was informed that the total stock and bond market value of the State Insurance Fund has dropped about $3.1 billion, and across all funds, the value is down about $3.4 billion, according to Gongwer News.
The board approved an emergency rule change to allow BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud to postpone the managed care open enrollment period, perhaps until as late as May 2021. 3/19/2020
OMA legal counsel Bricker & Eckler notes that the BWC has not provided a specific stance regarding compensability of COVID-19. The firm notes that claims of exposure to viruses or other potentially dangerous substances are generally not covered by workers’ compensation unless an injury or occupational disease results from such exposure. Therefore, a claim of exposure to COVID-19 at work is not, in itself, a compensable injury or disease. Each claim will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. See more here. 3/19/2020
This week, the Ohio Industrial Commission switched to conducting all workers’ compensation hearings by phone only. Should you have an Industrial Commission hearing, the OMA’s Workers’ Compensation Services team is prepared to defend the claim, or continue the hearing, whatever is in your best interests. If you have questions, email Brian Jackson or your account manager — Karen James, Melissa Ross or Juliet Walker. 3/18/2020
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has expanded its list of disinfectant products qualified for use against COVID-19. The list has nearly 200 additional products. Meanwhile, the American Chemistry Council has a similar list of products to fight COVID-19. 3/18/2020
This is a reminder that on Tuesday, March 31, program requirements are due for employers participating in the following Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) programs:
- Drug-Free Safety Program participants must submit their annual report.
- One Claim Program participants must complete education requirements.
- EM Cap Program participants must complete education requirements.
This week, OSHA issued guidance to help employers prepare their workplaces for the COVID-19 outbreak, along with a reminder that any incidents of employees contracting the coronavirus at work are recordable illnesses, subject to the same rules and failure-to-record fines as other workplace injuries and illnesses. 3/12/2020
The BWC will be conducting a free, 25-minute webinar on Wednesday, March 25 for employers to learn more about Better You, Better Ohio!® — the free health-and-wellness program for businesses with 150 or fewer employees engaged in higher-risk industries, including manufacturing. The program gives employers a great opportunity to start an employee wellness program with no cost or paperwork hassle. 3/12/2020
According to the National Weather Service, Ohio recorded 59 tornadoes last year, putting the Buckeye State in the top 10 tornado states for 2019. Just in time for severe weather season, OSHA has updated its emergency preparedness and response page — complete with employer responsibilities. 3/12/2020
Read OMA Connections Partner Dismore’s take on House Bill 308, costly legislation that would significantly expand Ohio’s workers’ compensation benefits and expenses. Last month, the Ohio House voted 74-22 to pass HB 308, which would provide first responders with workers’ compensation benefits to treat PTSD, even when there is no physical injury. The OMA opposes the bill, which is currently pending in the Ohio Senate. 3/11/2020
Attorney General Dave Yost this week rejected the summary language for a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. According to the AG, the summary did not constitute a “fair and truthful” representation of the issue.
If supporters successfully resubmit a new summary with 1,000 valid signatures and eventually get the green light from the AG and Ballot Board, they will need to gather roughly 443,000 valid signatures from registered voters by July 1 to get the issue on the November 2020 ballot. In 2015, Ohioans rejected legalizing recreational use of marijuana (State Issue 3) by a 64% to 36% margin. 3/11/2020