Ohio's Bureau of Workers' Compensation recently marked its 100th anniversary, with its CEO noting that the agency's formation was views as a "bold step" in improving the lives of Ohio workers and the Ohio economy. Admitting that many critics have called for reform in the way the agency deals with changing timelines, benefits and markets, the CEO said the agency continues to be a critical factor in Ohio's plan for economic growth.
The said the BWC does have problems that demand addressing, noting that Ohio has the highest long-term costs for workers' compensation claims in the nation, as well as rising lost wages and medical costs. The last four years has seen a decrease in the number of workers who are able to return to their jobs within a year of being injured, dropping from 75 percent to 69 percent.
Instead of tackling these issues directly, the CEO announced that the Ohio BWC would focus its efforts on the "little things." He listed several successes experienced by the agency in the past year, including an initiative that created a $4 million wellness program that rewards employers for reducing accident rates. He highlighted the "Grow Ohio" program, which aims to create jobs by showing businesses ways to cut their rates.
The BWC will focus much of its energy on returning injured employees to work quickly, as this lessens the financial burden on taxpayers and medical care facilities while increasing the chance of a positive outcome for workers. The agency also announced plans for a new discount and premium rating plan that would reward employers for maintaining safe work environments and for helping injured workers get back on the job.
But it's important to remember that any worker who is injured on the job to the point they can't perform their job should be able to make a claim for workers' compensation. Workers shouldn't be intimidated into not filing a claim because of a program's high costs.
Source: Chillicothe Gazette, "The 'little things' add up for workers' compensation," Stephen Buehrer, Dec. 29, 2011