News and Analysis
Ohio House Democrats this week introduced workers’ compensation legislation (House Bill 573) that would make COVID-19 an occupational disease under Ohio workers’ compensation law. Neither the bill nor its provisions were included in the emergency legislation (HB 197) passed this week. At this time, it does not appear that the workers’ compensation expansion bill will move through the legislature, but the OMA will continue to monitor the bill and update members as needed. 3/26/2020
The FDA has provided emergency guidance to communicate its policy for the temporary manufacture of certain alcohol-based hand sanitizing products. In short, the agency does not intend to take action against manufacturing firms that prepare such products for use by consumers and health care personnel during this public health emergency.
Upon completion of registration and listing, firms will receive automatic confirmation and do not need to wait for a further communication before producing and distributing such products. Email the FDA if you need help with facilitating this process. 3/26/2020
Wiping surfaces with disinfectants might not be enough to protect against COVID-19 coronavirus because cleaning practices tend to be spotty, according to a new study from Ohio State University.
The study’s author, Jason Stull, said the results serve as a warning, and that “regardless of where you visit, it’s also best to assume surfaces may be contaminated.” He pointed to another study showing the COVID-19 coronavirus can survive for up to three days on a plastic or doorknob.
Stull recommends people concentrate on cleaning surfaces that are commonly touched, such as doorknobs and countertops, and urges that these efforts continue even after the COVID-19 crisis. 3/26/2020
Recent events have raised many questions from employers regarding workers’ compensation. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has prepared this list of frequently asked questions to provide information about the coronavirus’ impact on its operations. 3/19/2020
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