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May 6, 2016

It can be confusing for employers to keep straight the various acronyms and entities that play a role in the Ohio workers’ compensation system.

We created this one-page tutorial that summarizes each entity’s specific function.

Questions?  Please contact OMA’s Jeremy Sesco or Brian Jackson.

Look for your BWC Notice of Estimated Annual Premium

April 22, 2016

On May 1, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) will mail Notices of Estimated Annual Premium for the policy year that begins July 1, 2016.

Employers can also view policy year 2016 information by accessing the installment schedule through the My Policy page.  Once there, you can also view or change your payment installment schedule for the upcoming policy year.  For more information on how to change your installment schedule, view this 40-sec. video tutorial.

The BWC bases estimated premium on payroll amounts that your company previously provided.  If you believe the payroll amount is incorrect, or if you anticipate a change in operations that will affect your payroll for the policy period beginning July 1, 2016, notify BWC at (800) 644-6292.

The first-ever payroll true-up period is coming July 1.  This new process requires employers to report their actual payroll for the previous policy year and reconcile any differences in premium paid.  Even if your payroll for the year matches the estimate BWC provided or you had zero payroll, you must complete a true-up report.

The quickest and easiest way to true-up will be online with a BWC e-account. To create an e-account, go to BWC’s website and click on the Create e-account link in the top right corner of the home page.

OMA is holding a BWC Hot Topics webinar on Tuesday, May 10 to cover billing issues and more.  Register here.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April 22, 2016

The National Safety Council (NSC) designates April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a time to draw attention to the hazards of using cell phones while driving.  As the NSC notes, phone use while driving, including texting and reading social media, has contributed to thousands of highway deaths.

Employers can play a big role in protecting workers who drive for their jobs.  Download the free NSC employer cell phone policy toolkit.  Also, OSHA reminds employers that it is a violation of the OSH Act for employers to require workers to text while driving, create incentives that encourage or condone it, or structure work so that texting while driving is a practical necessity for workers to carry out their job.  For more information, see OSHA’s Distracted Driving brochure.

Firefighter Cancer Bill Passes Senate

April 15, 2016

This week Senate Bill 27, sponsored by Senator Tom Patton (R-Strongsville), passed unanimously through the Senate Insurance Committee and off the Senate floor 32-1.  The bill provides that a firefighter who is disabled as a result of specified types of cancer is presumed to have incurred the cancer while performing his or her job duties, thus creating eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.

The bill allows that the presumption can be rebutted if it can be proven that the cancer was directly caused by working conditions.  This is the opposite of Ohio’s asbestos statute which has become a national model.  Originally the cancers covered under the bill include: cancers of the lung, brain, kidney, bladder, rectum, stomach, skin, or prostate; Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; leukemia; multiple myeloma; and testicular or colorectal cancer.  In committee, an amendment was added to include, breast, cervical, and uterine cancers to the bill.

BWC estimated an additional 568 claims annually at an approximate cost of $75 million.  Much like Senate Bill 5, a pending bill that would provide workers’ compensation benefits for psychiatric claims of first responders where there is not also a corresponding physical injury/illness, this bill would create a major shift in Ohio’s workers’ compensation laws.

BWC CEO Stepping Down

April 8, 2016

Last week Governor Kasich announced that Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) Administrator and CEO Steve Buehrer will be leaving state government on April 15 after more than five years of leading the agency.

The governor cited Buehrer’s achievements at the BWC as $4.3 billion in rate cuts, rebates and credits since 2011, tripling of safety grants and additional investments in safety research, and reducing Ohio’s workplace injury rate below the national average, among others.

Gov. Kasich appointed Steve Buehrer as Administrator/CEO of the BWC in January 2011.

Sarah Morrison, the bureau’s chief legal officer, will serve as interim administrator and CEO.

OMA highly respects Buehrer’s leadership and accomplishments, which have positioned the Ohio workers’ compensation system for the future.  We wish him well.

BWC on the Road with Destination:Excellence Seminars

April 8, 2016

The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has several more free regional seminars in which employers can learn the details of its Destination: Excellence program, including the benefits, eligibility requirements, implementation and financial incentives for enrollment in: Drug-Free Safety Program; Industry-Specific Safety Program; Safety councils; Transitional Work Bonus Program; and Vocational rehabilitation.

See the remaining schedule here.  Can’t make it?  Contact your BWC service office or OMA’s Brian Jackson for information.

BWC Closed for Maintenance Saturday, April 9

April 8, 2016

The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) will be conducting routine maintenance that will affect phone, email and Internet services on Saturday, April 9.  Due to this scheduled shutdown, BWC’s website will not be accessible, nor will its automated phone service via 1-800-644-6292.  This outage also applies to all other BWC phone and email service.

All systems will be up and running by start of business Monday, April 11.  Here’s more.

BWC Board Nominee List Sent to Governor

April 1, 2016

The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Board of Directors Nominating Committee has sent to Governor Kasich a list of nominees for appointment to the board.

By law, the nominating committee sends the governor a list of four names for open seats.  The governor is required to choose a nominee from the list, or request a new list.

The nominating committee sent names for these board seats:  actuary, investment & securities, employer representative, and self-insuring employer representative.

OMA president Eric Burkland serves on the nominating committee.

OSHA Releases Final Silica Rule

March 25, 2016

This week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released the long-anticipated Occupational Crystalline Silica Rule.  Among other provisions, the final rule:

  • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift.
  • Requires employers to: use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the PEL; provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.
  • Provides medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health.
  • Provides flexibility to help employers — especially small businesses — protect workers from silica exposure.
  • Allows for use of compressed air, dry sweeping, and dry brushing where other cleaning methods are not feasible.

The rule is effective June 23, 2016; however, companies have anywhere from one to five years to comply based on their category.  Manufacturers are considered in the “General Industry and Maritime” category and will have until June 23, 2018 to comply with most provisions.

Here is OSHA’s webpage on the final rule.

BWC Board Approves 8.6% Average Premium Reduction

March 18, 2016

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) board of directors this week approved an 8.6% reduction in overall average rates for the state’s private employers.  The move will decrease projected annual premiums by $113 million next year.

Over the past five years, Ohio’s private and public sector employers have benefited from $4.3 billion in rate cuts, rebates and credits.  An accounting of the $4.3 billion can be found here.

The latest cuts for private employers will begin July 1.  The reduction is an overall statewide average.  The actual premium paid by individual private employers depends on a number of factors, including the expected future costs in their industry, their recent claims history, and their participation in various programs.