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New Workers’ Comp. Opioid Prescribing Rule Effective

October 7, 2016

The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s (BWC) new rule governing the prescribing of opioids to treat Ohioans injured on the job took effect last week.

The changes target the prevention of opioid dependence by encouraging appropriate prescribing by physicians certified by the BWC.

Reimbursement for opioid prescriptions will now be limited to claims in which current best medical practices are followed. Those practices include the development of an individualized treatment plan, risk assessment and close monitoring of the progress and improvement in function of the worker.

BWC will also now provide treatment for opioid dependence that arises from the use of opioid medications covered by BWC.  Finally, a new peer-review process addresses a prescriber’s failure to comply with best practices. Corrective action steps range from warning letters to decertifying physicians from BWC’s network of approved providers.

Through BWC pharmacy improvements, total opioid doses have decreased by 18.9 million, or 44 percent, since 2010.  9/30/2016

BWC Administrator Appoints Chief Legal Counsel

October 7, 2016

Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison announced the appointment of Kevin Cogan as the bureau’s Chief Legal Counsel.

Cogan will be a member of BWC’s executive staff, responsible for coordinating all legal activities for BWC, providing legal advice and assistance, and acting as chief ethics officer for the agency.  He succeeds Morrison, who served in that role from 2012 until her appointment in April to Administrator/CEO.

Read more from the BWC.  10/3/2016

OMA Safety & Workers’ Comp Meeting: Pot, Safety, and a Good Lunch

October 7, 2016

Please consider attending or calling in to the last scheduled OMA Safety & Workers’ Compensation Committee meeting of 2016.  We’ll meet on Wednesday, October 12 from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at the OMA offices and there will be a nice networking lunch.

We will cover the latest updates on legislation and regulatory actions impacting Ohio’s manufacturers, including:

  • An expert panel will discuss the legalization of medical marijuana and effects on employers’ operations
  • OSHA update:  Increased OSHA penalties and OSHA reporting rule changes presented by Dianne Grote Adams, president of OMA Connections Partner, Safex

Register Now

New Safety Fact Sheets from OSHA

October 7, 2016

OSHA has released two fact sheets that stress the importance of tracking metrics and investigating potential hazards to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

The Importance of Root Cause Analysis During Incident Investigation urges employers to investigate incidents that nearly led to a worker injury and find ways to prevent similar incidents.

The Use of Metrics in Process Safety Management Facilities provides employers with a list metrics, or measurements, tracked by facilities in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs that handle highly hazardous chemicals.  10/3/02016

BWC Reports Decline in Workplace Injuries, Increase in Safety Service Utilization

September 30, 2016

Dr. Abe Al-Tarawneh, Superintendent of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Division of Safety and Hygiene, reported a 16.7 percent decrease in the rate of private sector injuries in the BWC system between calendar years 2010 and 2014.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses shows the rest of the nation experienced an 8.6 percent drop over the same time period.  During that period, total injuries in Ohio’s BWC system dropped from 105,568 to 95,802, a decrease made more significant considering a 7.5 percent growth in employment during the same time period.

Dr. Al-Tarawneh’s report highlights the effectiveness of Ohio’s occupational health and safety programs and services in preventing injuries.  The Division of Safety and Hygiene increased the number of employers utilizing one or more of its services by 70 percent between 2009 and 2015.  9/23/2016

No Valid Injury Needed for Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Claim

September 30, 2016

OMA Connections Partner, Frantz Ward, posted that the Ohio Supreme Court recently held that employees need not prove they were actually injured on the job to prevail in a retaliation claim.

Franz Ward writes: “Employers should already be aware that, under Ohio law, they may not discharge or take punitive action against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim after sustaining an injury at work. The Ohio Supreme Court recently issued a decision that will deter employers from disciplining even employees who file bogus workers’ compensation claims. In Onderko v. Sierra Lobo, Inc., … the Court held that a Plaintiff in a retaliatory discharge claim is not required to prove that he or she was injured on the job, but only that he or she was discharged for filing a workers’ compensation claim.”

And advises that: “Onderko is one of a series of cases that have broadened the strike zone for retaliation plaintiffs. The case instructs employers to use caution when disciplining or discharging an employee who has filed an unsuccessful workers’ compensation claim, even where the claim appears to be bogus. To take such adverse action, the employer must have a legitimate non-retaliatory reason unrelated to the employee’s exercise of his or her rights under the workers’ compensation statutes.”

Read more about the case from Frantz Ward9/23/2016

BWC has Scheduled Major System Upgrade

September 16, 2016

To modernize operations and improve customer service, the Bureau of Worker’ Compensation (BWC) will replace its core claims and policy management systems this November.  The transition to this new system will occur over Veterans’ Day weekend, Nov. 10 – 14.  Beginning the afternoon of Nov. 10, many BWC systems, including web and phone services, will be unavailable.  In addition, some employer-related systems will have limited functionality beginning at 5 p.m. Nov. 9. Normal operations resume on Tuesday, Nov. 15.

Specific information on outages will be forthcoming as the transition date approaches.

BWC’s goal is to make this transition as seamless as possible for its customers. This includes ensuring the transition does not disrupt compensation for injured workers. Steps BWC has taken to minimize disruption include thorough system testing, extensive employee training and practice, and timing the transition with a three-day holiday weekend.  9/15/2016

Last Call for BWC True Up. Seriously.

September 16, 2016

August 15 marked the close of the true-up period for private employers to report their actual payroll for the last year.  However, because this is a new process associated with the transition to prospective billing, BWC has established a grace period until Sept. 29 to ensure all employers are able to complete this requirement.

Employers that do not complete payroll reports will be removed from all BWC programs in which they currently participate and become ineligible for future program participation.  In addition, they will have their estimated annual premium increased by 10% and certified to the Ohio Attorney General’s office.

Visit BWC’s website to learn how to create an e-account.  For true-up instructions, please visit this link.  The payroll true-up may also be completed through the call center at 1-800-644-6292.

OSHA Increases Maximum Penalties

September 9, 2016
OSHA Increases Maximum Penalties
OMA Connections Partner, Safex, advises that OHSA recently raised its penalties.  The new penalties took effect August 2, 2016.  Any citations issued by OSHA on or after this date will be subject to the new penalties if the related violations occurred after November 2, 2015.  9/7/2016 

 Type of Violation  Former Maximum Penalty  New Maximum Penalty 
Posting Requirements)
 $7,000 per violation  $12,471 per violation
Failure to Abate


 $7,000 per day beyond the abatement date  $12,471 per day beyond the abatement date
Willful or Repeated  $70,000 per violation  $124,709 per violation


NE Ohio Safety Expo is October 14

September 9, 2016

The 2016 NE Ohio Safety Expo offers educational opportunities for safety and health programs, continuing education and discount program credits, and a variety of local and regional exhibitors.

The conference is Friday, October 14, 2016 at the Trumbull Career & Technical Center, 528 Educational Highway, Warren OH 44483.  Learn more here9/7/2016