News and Analysis
Open Wound to Finger Most Prevalent Workers’ Comp Claim
OMA recently analyzed injury data from its book of Workers’ Compensation Services members and found that the leading workers’ compensation claim injury – in terms of number of claims – continues to be open wounds to fingers.
The data relates to the four years from 2006 through 2010. In that span, there were 1191 claims for this injury, followed next in frequency by 268 claims for lumbar sprains and strains.
Also among the top five most prevalent injuries within the OMA member base analyzed were foreign bodies on external eye; 288 claims were recorded.
To help employers reduce these common injuries, OMA is offering a one-hour webinar on May 26 entitled Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Assessments. This session will help you understand how to: conduct a PPE assessment, review your current program for compliance with OSHA standard, and identify facility tasks that should be prioritized for assessment.
If your company is required to comply with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation group rating 2-hour safety training requirement due to a triggering workers’ compensation claim(s), this webinar learning event qualifies for one-hour of training time.
BWC Budget Bill Amended
Legislation to fund the continued operation of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation was approved by the Ohio Senate. House Bill 123 was amended and later voted 27-5. Amendments included a change to public employer Self-Insurer waiver; removing a requirement for BWC to conduct a new study on black lung; alteration to proposed new time limitations on billing; and legislation limiting disability benefit payment by public pension funds. The Ohio House must vote next week to accept the Senate amendments.
Buehrer Announces Expansion of Safety Council Program
Stephen Buehrer, Administrator/CEO of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), announced the continuation and expansion of the Safety Council Rebate Incentive Program, which allows employers to earn rebates on their workers’ compensation premiums for participating in their local safety council and reducing workplace injuries.
The incentive program, which was due to expire, allows participating employers to receive a two percent rebate for attending a specific number of safety council programs, and an additional two percent for demonstrating a reduction in the frequency and/or severity of workplace incidents.
Under Buehrer’s proposal, the program will continue and be expanded to allow group-rated employers participating in safety councils to earn a two percent performance rebate for demonstrating improvements in workplace safety in addition to receiving their group rating discount.
Neither details about what group-rated employers will specifically be required to do nor timing of the proposal were available in the announcement.
Studies by Deloitte, conducted under a $2 million, legislatively-mandated review, called into question the soundness of discounts not actuarially warranted. These discounts can end up forcing increases in base rates.
OSHA Guidance on Testing for Respiratory Hazards
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) developed two guidance documents, one for workers and one for employers, which describe the use of spirometry testing to help reduce and prevent worker exposure to respiratory hazards.
Spirometry is a common pulmonary function test that measures how well a person moves air in and out of the lungs.Workers who inhale some types of dusts, gases or other air contaminants can, over time, experience lung damage. The information in these new guidance documents is intended to help employers identifyand eliminate hazardous workplace exposures and help reduce or prevent the chances of workers developing lung disease.
The agency also recently issued a Safety and Health Information Bulletin on Occupational Exposure to Flavoring Substances: Health Effects and Hazard Controls and a companion Worker Alert on Diacetyl and Substitutes. These documents recommend medical surveillance programs to identify workers experiencing adverse health effects from exposure to flavorings, including food flavorings containing diacetyl.
OSHA to Hold Teleconferences for Employer Input on Proposed Log Change
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in partnership with the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, announced a series of three teleconferences to ask the small business community for input on its proposal to add a column for work-related musculoskeletal disorders on employer injury and illness logs. This proposal would require those employers already mandated to keep injury and illness records to add the step of checking a column when recording work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
If you have input on how this would affect your recordkeeping processes, consider participating.
The calls are scheduled for Monday, April 11 at 1:30 p.m. EDT and Tuesday, April 12, 2011, at 9 a.m. EDT and 1:30 p.m. EDT.
House Passes BWC and IC Budget Bills
The biennial budgets for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (House Bill 123) and the Industrial Commission (House Bill 124) moved off the House floor without debate and without dissent this week. Both budgets contain expenditures for the next two years that are lower than the previous two. Cost reductions have been achieved through headcount reductions over the period.
In his committee testimony, BWC Administrator Steve Buehrer reflected that the agency had 4,200 employees in 1995 (when Governor Voinovich began to drive reforms) and has just over 2,100 employees today. He said his management focus will be on three areas: service, simplicity and savings. His major investment during the biennium will be replacing a 20 year-old claims management system.
Action Taken Against Portsmouth Physician Suspected of Defrauding BWC
This week the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), together with other enforcement agencies, took legal action at the Portsmouth (Scioto County) and Plymouth (Huron County) offices of Dr. James E. Lundeen Sr.
Referring to search warrants of the doctor’s offices, BWC CEO/Administrator, Stephen Buehrer said, “The search is part of an ongoing investigation into workers’ compensation fraud by Dr. Lundeen, who provides medical services to injured workers. In addition, we believe this issue could extend beyond fraud to include prescription drug abuse.”
According to the BWC press release, “Governor John Kasich has declared war on the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in Ohio and charged state agencies with using every tool at their disposal to help victims and fight those who abuse the law. To that end, BWC has been reviewing data regarding the use of prescription pain medicine in treatment for injured workers. Today’s actions are part of our efforts to ensure Ohio’s injured workers are getting only the highest level of care so they can return to living healthy and productive lives.”
Ohio BWC spends more than $50 million in prescription narcotics each year.
Noise Compliance Webinar Available on OMA Web Site
While the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has backed off on its threat to quiet manufacturing through engineered solutions, hearing conservation remains a fundamental manufacturing concern.
In an OMA webinar this week, industrial hygienist, Bill Adams, of OMA Connections Partner, Safex, presented the components of a hearing conservation program in accordance with 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1910.95. The webinar was recorded for your convenience.
Recorded Webinar 03-16-2011 – OMA / Safex: Noise Compliance
Participants in this webinar learn about the components of a hearing conservation program in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.95 and the risk of exposures to sound levels in excess of 85 dBA. They gain an understanding of noise monitoring requirements for evaluating exposure to the hearing conservation action level and for evaluating exposure to the OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) One-hour recorded webinar.
OSHA Issues Guidance on Cranes and Derricks Rule
While pointed generally at the construction industry, to the extent your manufacturing facility employees cranes and/or derricks in operations, note that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued this week the Small Entity Compliance Guide for Cranes and Derricks in Construction to help businesses comply with the recently published Cranes and Derricks in Construction rule.