Ohio Workers’ Compensation Update

A couple of issues that have a direct impact on Ohio employers have made news recently. Here’s a quick review of both: 
·         First, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has introduced a new rating plan that encourages employers to maintain safe workplaces and to work with injured workers to speed their return to work.
According to the BWC, the new rating plan, Destination: Excellence, aims to improve return-to-work rates by offering employers more choice in building a risk management plan that focuses on safety, prevention and returning injured workers to their jobs more quickly. The plan allows employers to select from seven new and existing program options to customize a plan that addresses their specific needs. The programs address workplace safety and stress transitional work and vocational rehabilitation programs while providing opportunities to reduce premiums through adoption of best practices and meeting certain performance requirements. Additional savings are also possible for effective policy maintenance, such as doing business online and keeping current on premiums.
The proposal, introduced to the BWC Board of Directors during its meetings on November 17 and November 18, will be up for approval at the next meeting on December 16.
·         Second, major reform of Ohio's workers' compensation system is apparently no longer a top priority for the Kasich Administration, even though it was one of the things the governor named as a top priority upon taking office in January of this year. 
Governor John Kasich, in comments over the past few weeks, insisted that the reform proposal wasn't being shelved because of the contentious fight over Senate Bill 5/Issue 2. 
"We've already done significant workers' comp reform, and we're focusing internally," he said. "To get major workers' comp reform, you're going to need both labor and management to sit down. But we've made progress. We've reduced the base rate. We've just reset rates again. There's a lot of things that we can continue to do to improve the system without having to go to the legislature. But some of the other things that have to be done have to be done with the cooperation of other folks."
Among the ideas discussed was the injection of a private insurance element to compete with the state-run insurance fund for injured workers and overall benefit cuts, changes in workers’ compensation that would most certainly garner the opposition of organized labor.
Roetzel & Andress will continue to provide guidance to employers as these issues continue to develop. If you should have any questions, please contact any of our offices to discuss these matters further with one of our workers’ compensation attorneys.


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