News and Analysis
This August, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will offer workshops for self-insuring employers and their representatives. This series will feature panels of experts to discuss relationships and interactions between injured workers and employers to achieve the best results for everyone involved in the claims process. The meetings are set for the following dates:
- Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, from 10 a.m. to noon (Columbus)
- Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, from 10 a.m. to noon (Cleveland)
- Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, from 10 a.m. to noon (Cincinnati)
Information regarding past and future workshops is available here. 6/1/2019
The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Self-Insured Department is developing an at-a-glance self-insured policy portal page, which is expected to be ready by early summer. Feedback from self-insuring employers indicated the page has been cumbersome when navigating for service offerings on the BWC website. The new page will provide a dashboard to access frequently used items, including policy demographic information, coverage status, renewal, SI-40 reporting and invoice details.
You can let the BWC know what you would like to see on this policy portal page by emailing here. 6/1/2019
The deadline for employers participating in the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation 7/1/18 Policy Activity Rebate (PAR) program to complete the required activities has been extended to June 19. Participants must complete the activities to receive the 50% premium bonus, capped at $2,000. Employers can review their progress and update their activity completion here. 6/1/2019
The House Finance Committee this week accepted a new substitute version of the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) budget, House Bill 80. The latest version of HB 80 is full of policy changes — a stark departure from the original legislation, which was a clean appropriations measure.
The most troubling inclusion is workers compensation benefits for mental or emotional impairment caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), even if there is no physical injury. While the PTSD coverage would be reserved for first responders, the provision would still create a fundamental shift from Ohio’s current workers’ compensation law, which requires a physical injury before allowing any mental health claims.
A similar PTSD measure in 2017 was estimated to cost up to an additional $98.4 million annually in claims. For comparative purposes, public entities paying into the State Insurance Fund at that time paid a combined $190 million in total annual premiums.
The OMA and other business groups have long opposed the expansion of workers’ compensation benefits beyond physical injuries. The OMA has offered the General Assembly a variety of solutions to ensure that Ohio’s first responders receive necessary care without expanding workers’ compensation laws.
Other major changes in sub HB 80 include revisions to Temporary Total Disability, employee misclassification, settlement of claims, and voluntary abandonment.
The committee is expected to move the bill early next week. 5/30/2019
With workplace injuries declining and investment returns increasing, Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud have proposed rebating $1.5 billion to Ohio employers this year.
If the rebate is approved by the BWC board of directors, checks will be issued to employers in September.
The $1.5 billion amounts to about 88% of employer premiums. This would be Ohio’s fifth investment return to employers of at least $1 billion since 2013, and sixth overall during that time. The BWC has also approved a 20% cut in premiums, the largest reduction in 60 years. 5/20/2019
OSHA announced last week it is requesting information that could lead to a possible update to the Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) standard. The agency is interested in comments on the use of control circuit-type devices to isolate energy, as well as the evolving technology for robotics.
OSHA wants feedback regarding how employers have been using control circuit devices, as well as new risks of worker exposure to hazardous energy due to increased interaction with robots. The standard specifies that control circuit devices cannot be used as energy-isolating devices, but the agency recognizes recent technological advances may have improved the safety of control circuit-type devices.
Comments must be submitted on or before August 18, 2019. Comments and materials may be submitted electronically or by facsimile or mail. See the Federal Register notice for submission details. 5/18/2019
On June 6 at 10 a.m., the OMA will offer a webinar to help employers prepare for an OSHA inspection. We’ll cover OSHA’s typical inspection priorities, steps to prepare for an inspection, your possible responses to potential citations, and more. Our subject matter expert is Nate Burgei, a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) and Certified Safety Professional (CSP) with Safex, an OMA Connections Partner. Register here. 5/23/2019
The OMA Safety and Workers’ Compensation Committee this week heard from Ohio’s four area directors from OSHA.
Howie Eberts (Cleveland), Ken Montgomery (Cincinnati), Larry Johnson (Columbus), and Kim Nelson (Toledo) provided members with an in-depth look at how best to handle relations with OSHA, as well as tips and ideas to ensure manufacturer safety.
The four officials welcomed the opportunity to meet with the OMA and its members, and were able to answer a multitude of questions regarding the agency. 5/23/2019
This week, the House Insurance Committee passed the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) budget bill, House Bill 80, out of committee without making changes to the original language.
It was widely speculated the committee would accept a substitute version of the legislation. Instead, the bill was quickly passed and referred to the House Finance Committee, where Administrator Stephanie McCloud gave testimony on Thursday.
A sub bill is expected next week. Rumors are swirling around the Statehouse that the new version of HB 80 may contain provisions to provide PTSD coverage for first responders who do not suffer an accompanying physical injury. The OMA and other business organizations have long advocated against any such change, and this week sent a letter to the Speaker urging the House to keep any new PTSD provisions out of the bill. 5/23/2019
Ohio employers pay, on average, the 16th lowest workers’ compensation premium rates in the nation. That’s according to a recent study by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, which compared the workers’ comp premium rates of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Over the years, the OMA has worked hard to advocate for more competitive workers’ comp costs. As of 2018, Ohio’s index rate of $1.40 per $100 of payroll was 82% of the national median, according to the Oregon study. Meanwhile, New York had the most expensive index rate at $3.08 per $100 of payroll, while North Dakota was least expensive at $0.82.
As a reminder, the OMA is Ohio’s only workers’ compensation third-party administrator that exclusively serves manufacturers. If your company is not already using OMA Workers’ Compensation Services, check us out and see how the OMA can simplify your workers’ comp responsibilities. 5/15/2019