August 13, 2014.  This morning Governor Kasich and Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator Buehrer announced a proposal that will go to the BWC Board of Directors this month directly benefiting the employers of Ohio.

The proposal includes the following items:

 1.      One time rebate

Extend a $1 billion rebate for private employers and public-taxing districts paying into Ohio’s workers’ compensation system. This additional rebate after the one issued in 2013 is possible due to BWC’s investments continuing to perform well above expectations. The State Insurance Fund net assets stand at $7.7 billion and a funding ratio exists above the target guidelines set by the BWC Board of Directors.

If approved by the board, each employer’s rebate will reflect 60% of what they were billed during the last policy period (July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013 for private em­ployers; January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012 for public taxing districts).  Checks would be distributed in October.

To be eligible, private employers must have been in an active, reinstated, combined or debtor in possession status as of September 5, 2014; public taxing districts must also have been in an active or reinstated status as of September 5, 2014. Employers with an outstanding BWC balance will have their rebate first applied to that balance.

Employers who report through a Professional Employer Organization should receive their rebate from their PEO, which is required to pass a portion of the rebate on to their members.

Since the additional Billion Back is tied to premium already paid, we would like to remind employers that alternative rating programs still present a tremendous savings benefit for your organization.  There are key changes in deadlines approaching in the next few months due to the implementation of prospective billing by BWC, so please make note so that you do not miss your opportunity.  Deadline changes include:

Private employer deadlines for the 2015 policy year (1st policy year impacted by prospective billing): 

  • Group Rating: Monday, November 24, 2014 (previously last business day of February)
  • Group Retrospective Rating/Other Alternative Rating Programs: Friday, January 30, 2015 (previously last business day of April)
  • Destination Excellence Programs: Friday, May 29, 2015 (previously last business day of April)

Public employer deadlines will change for the 2016 policy year.  Enrollment deadlines remain the same for the 2015 policy year which is currently underway: 

  • Group Rating: August 29, 2014 (will change to Friday, May 29, 2015 for the 2016 policy year)
  • Group Retrospective Rating/Other Alternative Rating Programs: October 31, 2014 (will change to Friday, July 31, 2015 for the 2016 policy year)  
  • Destination Excellence Programs:  October 31, 2014 (will change to Friday, November 30, 2015 for the 2016 policy year) 

 2.      Additional Safety Initiatives

Advanced research to practice in workplace safety and health.  This is intended for higher-education institutions and research organizations to promote innovation in areas of workplace safety and health such as overexertion, slips, trips, and falls, and musculoskeletal disorders. BWC expects to fund 10-15 projects a year at an annual cost of approximately $2 million.

Expansion of the Safety Council Program to incorporate health and wellness. BWC currently sponsors and provides funding for more than 80 safety councils with 9,000 participating employers. With this proposal, BWC will require more training and seminars directed at improving the health and wellness of Ohio’s workforce.

Firefighter safety training. Ohio Emergency Medical Services and the State Fire Marshal provide $500,000 to fund Fire Fighter I Training, a 120-hour class, to improve their safety, preparedness and response time during emergencies. BWC will commit another $1 million.

Safety Intervention Grant Program. The popular Safety Grants Program provides matching funds up to $40,000 for employers to purchase equipment that will substantially reduce or eliminate injuries and illnesses. The program was expanded last year and has gained significant popularity and a record $15 million in grants were awarded to 535 employers over the last year. The most previously granted in one year was $4 million. BWC already approved another $15 million for the fiscal year that began July 1, and will propose additional commitments of $15 million for each of the next two years fiscal years (2016 and 2017).

Development of safety curricula and funding for skilled labor training programs. BWC will collaborate with business, labor and higher education to create, implement and fund safety programming as part of required training in high-risk specialties such as carpentry, welding and plumbing. Under the program, BWC will incent two-year universities and trade schools to include the developed safety programming as part of the education provided to those looking to attain skilled labor positions. BWC’s financial commitment to this program will be $1 million.

As CompManagement receives more information regarding this positive news that directly impacts your workers’ compensation policy and how safety and wellness may be addressed in your workplace, we will continue to communicate with you and be available to assist with any questions you may have as details are provided. 

In the meantime, should you have any questions on the details as known to date, please contact your CompManagement account representative directly or our Customer Support Unit at (800) 825-6755, option 3.