Ohio BWC news


Staff Reports



Ohio BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison presents Buckeye Lake Winery owner Tracy Higginbotham with a certificate of appreciation for installing new safety equipment in the winery’s warehouse. At left is a lift for transporting pallets of wine to and from a mezzanine storage area, just one feature the winery installed with the help of a $40,000 safety intervention grant from BWC.


Man’s claim of mistaken identity fools no one; ordered to pay $22K to BWC

Tuesday, March 3, 2017 a busy day in court for BWC with 4 fraud convictions

COLUMBUS — A Knox County man caught scamming the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and trying to lie his way out of it was ordered to reimburse the agency $22,578 Tuesday and to pay $1,000 of it within six months or spend six months in jail.

“If we’re knocking on your door with a fraud allegation, lying won’t help your case,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “We are determined to stop fraud when we find it and to return any ill-gotten resources to their rightful purpose — taking care of injured workers and increasing workplace safety in this state.”

In one of four BWC court cases Tuesday, Scott Wells, 40, pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas — but not before blaming his cousin for the trouble he had gotten into.

BWC’s Special Investigations Department discovered Wells had been working as a truck driver while receiving BWC benefits when his name popped up in a state database showing his semi tractor-trailer had been stopped for an inspection by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. When confronted by investigators, Wells claimed it was a case of mistaken identity. He told agents his cousin had needed a job but didn’t have a commercial driver’s license, so he lent his license to his cousin and that’s who was stopped by PUCO in November 2013.

Wells’ cousin would not corroborate his story, however, nor would the trucking company and employment records.

In other fraud convictions Tuesday, all in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas:

Matthew Buckman of Columbus pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of attempted workers’ compensation fraud after BWC investigators found that he worked for two different employers at various times since 2013 while receiving injured workers’ benefits. Among his jobs, he worked as a full-time appliance installer, with no known physical limitations, from Feb. 14, 2014 to March 16, 2015. A judge sentenced Buckman to 60 days in jail, suspended, and ordered him to pay $2,710 in restitution to BWC.

Beverly J. Ritchie of Tiffin in northwest Ohio pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. The judge ordered her to pay $5,340 in restitution, which she paid immediately.

Enriquetta Valentine of Columbus was sentenced to one year of community control and ordered to pay $1,129 in restitution to BWC after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving BWC benefits.

In another recent fraud case, a Cleveland-area man on Feb. 23 was ordered to pay $28,669 in court costs and restitution to BWC after investigators found him working as a hotel maintenance engineer while receiving temporary total disability benefits from July 2, 2014 through Nov. 29, 2015.

A Franklin County judge also sentenced Willie A. Davis Jr., 58, of Bedford, to five years of community control and a suspended jail sentence of one year. Davis pleaded guilty to a fifth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud in January.

BWC proposes another $1 billion workers’ comp rebate

Rebates and rate cuts since 2011 total $6 billion

COLUMBUS – Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison today (March 13, 2017) proposed a $1 billion rebate for Ohio’s private and public employers, the third such rebate since 2013.

Morrison announced the proposal with Gov. John Kasich at Dynamit, a downtown Columbus company that creates web and mobile applications. If approved by BWC’s Board of Directors, the proposed rebate, along with previous rebates, credits and rate reductions, would total $6.3 billion the agency has saved Ohio employers in workers’ compensation costs since the start of 2011.

“By continually looking to reduce workers compensation costs to public and private employers, and invest in workplace safety efforts, Ohio has been able to create a much better climate for success for job creators, government employees and workers,” said Kasich. “Returning yet another $1 billion back to our businesses, schools and local governments means we will have saved employers as well as taxpayers an impressive $6 billion in our continuing efforts to make workers’ compensation operate better.”

Morrison said strong fiscal management and better-than-expected investment returns have increased the net position of the State Insurance Fund to $9.6 billion, making the rebate possible. She said BWC anticipated a 4 percent return, but enjoyed an annualized return of 7 percent over the last three fiscal years, including a total net return of 5.8 percent in fiscal year 2016.

If approved by the BWC Board of Directors, more than 200,000 eligible private and public employers would receive a rebate equal to 66 percent of premiums for the policy year that ended June 30, 2016 (calendar year 2015 for public employers). If approved at the board’s April meeting, BWC could begin issuing checks in early July.

Morrison also announced the bureau, at Gov. Kasich’s urging, is exploring a significant investment in workplace safety across the state, the details of which should be available next month.

“Gov. Kasich challenged us to invest even more in creating a culture of safety in Ohio’s workplaces and ensuring more people return home each day safe and healthy,” she said. “Our goal is to develop a plan that will help protect workers’ health and wellbeing on the job and at home.”

Ohio BWC gives a third billion back

What they’re saying

Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison joined Gov. John Kasich to propose a $1 billion rebate for Ohio’s private and public employers, the third such rebate since 2013. If approved by BWC’s Board of Directors, the proposed rebate, along with previous rebates, credits and rate reductions, would total $6.3 billion the agency has saved Ohio employers in workers’ compensation costs since the start of 2011. Morrison also announced BWC is developing a major safety initiative to help protect the safety and wellness of Ohio’s workers.

Here’s what Ohio’s employers are saying:

Business Associations & Central Ohio

“Under the leadership of Governor Kasich and Administrator Morrison, the BWC is improving on many fronts, and today’s announcement is just another example of how the agency continues to be responsive to the economic needs of employers while improving services to injured workers. Money going back to the employer only happens because of prudent financial management and operational efficiencies. The announcement today is another example of the BWC working to make Ohio’s workers’ compensation system a competitive advantage for Ohio.

Eric Burkland, president, Ohio Manufacturers’ Association

“On behalf of our 25,000 members, NFIB/Ohio applauds the BWC’s strong fiscal management and continued efforts to return more employer dollars back to employers. These latest rebates will again help to stimulate Ohio’s economy through reinvestment back into their businesses. Past BWC rebates have been used by small employers to expand their businesses, hire new people and create workplace safety programs.

Roger Geiger, vice president and executive director for The National Federation of Independent Business/Ohio

“Once again, the Governor and BWC have taken action to help keep Ohio competitive in the workers’ compensation arena. Today’s announcement to return a billion dollars to Ohio employers is a pleasant surprise and will serve as another building block in helping to improve Ohio’s economic climate, maintain jobs and attract new business to the state.”

Andy Doehrel, president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce

Northeast Ohio

“This give back is evidence of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s accountability to Ohio employers. The City of Ashtabula appreciates the bureau’s willingness to return surplus funds. While we already actively manage workers comp claims and take advantage of any BWC programs we can to reduce expenses, this will help directly reduce some of the burden on other City funds in 2017.”

Dana Pinkert, finance director, City of Ashtabula

“The City of Youngstown welcomes the significant rebate that we will be receiving and commends the BWC for its efficient handling of its finances.”

Rebecca Gerson, deputy law director, City of Youngstown

“Trucking is a very competitive and capital-intensive industry. A sizeable rebate from Ohio BWC will allow us to reinvest in our fleet.”

David Hochstetler, chief financial officer, Wooster Motor Ways, Inc

“Canton City Schools is very excited to hear the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will once again be issuing premium refunds. Our refund will allow us to continue to provide greatly needed academic opportunities to the students and families of Canton “

Jeff Gruber, treasurer, Canton City Schools

Northwest Ohio

“Workers’ compensation costs is a major line item for all businesses in Ohio. This rebate will provide companies the ability to invest in additional training and education, while enhancing the health and safety of current and future employees. On behalf of Ohio businesses, we appreciate and respect the understanding of Governor Kasich and the BWC Administrator to value the needs of businesses and owners in Ohio.”

Beth DeLaney, president, Mid Ohio Employment Service, Inc

“I appreciate the thoughtful decision by Governor Kasich and BWC Administrator Morrison to support Ohio’s safety conscious employers, large and small, through another workers’ compensation premium rebate. This rebate will give Darke County employers the ability to reinvest in their businesses and safety programs. Thanks to the Governor and BWC for their efforts in making Ohio a more competitive environment for business.”

Sharon Deschambeau, President-Darke County Chamber of Commerce

“Having ANY money coming back our way from the state is great, but this kind of sizable re-investment in our business really proves that Governor Kasich and the Ohio BWC have our state on the right track for growth and job creation. It’s great to know that we have an administration that is not only talking big job creation in Ohio, but they are also putting up the financial backing to make it a reality.”

Erik Flick, VP/ COO, Flick Packaging Co., Galion, Ohio

“Safety is our No, 1 priority and we appreciate the BWC’s recognition of how safety and controlling our workers’ compensation costs are not only tied together, but critically important in building Ohio’s infrastructure.”

Bradley Miller, P.E., president, Miller Bros. Construction, Inc., Archbold, OH

Southeast

“It is outstanding that the Ohio BWC has given back for the third time $1 billion to all Ohio companies who pay a worker’s comp premium. The 66 percent can again be reinvested into workplace safety. We are proud to work so closely with the Ohio BWC. Together we encourage our area employers to implement safety education and resources into the daily work routine, allowing for a safe environment and a reduction on workers’ compensation costs. We are so proud to be a part of a system that gives back!”

Carrie Ankrom, president/CEO, Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce

“Once again, we appreciate BWC’s investment in safety and for sharing the success of the agency’s performance with employers. The proposed rebate shows the BWC’s commitment toward reducing costs for Ohio’s employers.”

John Dumbola, Hopedale Mining LLC, Hopedale

“We are excited to receive a rebate from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. This rebate will help us expand our current training and development programs and will also allow us to continue to invest in proactive employee safety initiatives. Our Jackson, Ohio frozen food plant is the largest manufacturing facility in our network, and Bellisio Foods is proud to partner with the State of Ohio for the benefit of the community.”

Ken Stickevers, president and COO, Bellisio Foods, Inc., Jackson

“Thank you for the exciting news today regarding the significant worker’s compensation premium refund. Certainly the business community never expects to be receiving a check FROM any government entity, so we are delighted to be receiving a premium refund check this summer. Honestly, even more important than the cash is the reality that our state government, starting with Governor Kasich, is committed to work with government, education and the private sector to make Ohio a great place to build a business.“

Michael Linton, Accurate Heating and Cooling, Chillicothe

Southwest

“This is positive news. The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and the state are working with employers so they can continue to do business in Ohio and bring new businesses to the Buckeye state. There are still difficult challenges ahead for companies and this rebate will help them tremendously.”

Kert Radel, president, Fairfield Chamber of Commerce

“We’re pleased to hear of the BWC giving money back to employers. We appreciate their efforts to help Ohio businesses.”

Robert T. Henderson, CFO/treasurer, Ford Development Corp. Cincinnati

“As a public employer, a large percentage of our expenditures are related to personnel costs, including workers’ compensation premium costs. We consistently strive to manage those costs while still providing the services that our citizens expect and deserve. This rebate from the state will help us to ensure that we are able to provide those services at the levels the citizens expect. I applaud the state for returning these funds to Ohio employers.”

Timothy Werdmann, Esq., director of Human Resources, City of Hamilton

“We greatly appreciate the commitment to safety that BWC provides for our employees through workers’ compensation coverage, safety grants, safety and health resources and rebates/money-back opportunities. These allow us to successfully manage our environment and activities in a proactive, safe-minded manner, and ultimately helps to minimize worker injuries and illnesses.”

Cynthia Eghbalnia, MPH, CIH, Environmental Health & Safety Manager, Cincinnati Public Schools

Workplace safety measures lift spirits at Buckeye Lake Winery

THORNVILLE — Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison visited Buckeye Lake Winery recently to observe a safety system the winery installed with the help of a $40,000 Safety Intervention Grant from BWC.

The winery, located at 13750 Rosewood Road NE, used the grant last year to install a pallet lift system, catwalk, guard rails and stairs that give workers safer access to elevated storage areas, reducing or eliminating the need for ladders and forklifts.

“Buckeye Lake Winery knows that investing in workplace safety is smart business and the right thing to do for workers,” said Morrison. “Greater safety means fewer injuries and a more stable workforce. I urge other Ohio employers to join this winery and BWC in creating a culture of safety across this state.”

Falls and contact with objects or equipment are among the leading causes of workplace injuries in the United States. At Buckeye Lake Winery, wine is made and stored in stainless steel tanks that, prior to the catwalk, employees had to access by ladder. Similarly, workers had to use ladders and forklifts to access bottled wine, which is stored on a mezzanine in lots of 70 to 98 cases per pallet. Each stocked pallet weighs approximately 2,400 pounds.

“Thankfully, we didn’t have any work injuries prior to installing the new equipment, but we had some close calls,” said owner Tracy Higginbotham. “Today our workers feel so much safer moving inventory around the warehouse, and it’s improved our overall operations more than I imagined, too.”

Opened in 2013, Buckeye Lake Winery employs at least 25 workers year-round and up to as many as 50 in warmer months. The business produces and sells about 3,000 cases of wine annually. It also operates a restaurant and provides venue space for private events.

BWC’s Safety Intervention Grant Program provides $15 million annually to help Ohio employers purchase equipment designed to substantially reduce or eliminate injuries and illnesses associated with a particular task or operation. BWC gives $3 for every $1 the employer contributes, up to a maximum of $40,000. Learn more about the program here and view stories of previous grant recipients at BWC’s YouTube channel.

Funded by employer premiums, the grants are one of many safety-focused services provided by BWC. Visit the safety section of bwc.ohio.gov to learn more about training, on-site consulting and other programs included as part of an employer’s workers’ compensation premiums.

Columbus company earns cash and kudos for creative safety solution

Ames Arboreal Group captures honorable mention in annual innovation awards

COLUMBUS – The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) today (March 9) presented honorable mention and $1,500 to Ames Arboreal Group of Columbus for its entry in the agency’s annual Safety Innovation Awards, a truck used to lift tree limbs and trunk pieces into a trailer to eliminate the need for a wood chipper.

Ames joined four other Ohio employers receiving awards during the 2017 Ohio Safety Congress & Expo, BWC’s annual three-day occupational safety, health and workers’ compensation conference at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The awards recognize employers who develop innovative solutions that reduce the risk of workplace injuries and illnesses.

“Sometimes a solution to a safety hazard isn’t readily apparent, and it takes extra effort and ingenuity to address a company’s unique needs and challenges,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison “That’s just what each of these employers did, and we applaud them for going above and beyond to protect their workers and improve productivity.”

The awards for this year’s competition include:

  • 1st place ($6,000 award): ICP Adhesives and Sealants, Norton
  • 2nd place ($4,000 award): C&K Industrial Services Inc., Cleveland
  • 3rd place ($3,000 award): Holloway, Henderson & Martin LLC, Pickerington
  • Honorable Mention ($1,500 award): Suburban Steel Supply Company, Gahanna
  • Honorable Mention ($1,500 award): Ames Arboreal Group, Columbus

See below for a description of each company’s innovation.

Holloway was also selected to receive the People’s Choice Award by OSC17 attendees and will receive an additional $1,000.

The five finalists showcased their innovations at the Safety Congress Expo Marketplace. A panel of independent judges evaluated and scored the innovations based on a number of criteria, including risk reduction, innovation, cost savings and potential for the innovation to be used by other employers and presentation quality.

Here’s a breakdown of this year’s winners and their inventions:

Ames Arboreal Group, Columbus — Micrograpple truck

This full-service tree and brush trimming service used to haul mobile wood chippers to job sites for the reduction and removal of tree and brush debris. But working with those chippers posed immediate, acute and long-term injury risks to workers, including dismemberment and death. Owner Nathan Ames visualized, engineered and built the “JosieBea” micrograpple truck to avoid those risks. The truck’s grapple lifts debris into a dump trailer, which is taken to a mechanized wood chipping facility.

Holloway, Henderson & Martin LLC, Pickerington — Scaffold caddy

This masonry contractor performs interior and exterior construction and restoration work for all types of businesses. Prior to its innovation, workers manually carried heavy scaffold frames and other components to where they would erect the scaffold. Risks included overexertion injuries, trips and falls. The company reduced those risks by fabricating a cart that, when fully loaded with scaffold parts, can pass through doorways, fit onto elevators and maneuver down busy corridors.

C & K Industrial Services, Cleveland — Hydroblasting robots

C & K provides heavy-duty vacuuming and pressure washing services for cleaning sewer lines, pipes and various industrial equipment and facilities. The company uses power washing wands that deliver water and cleaning solutions at up to 40,000 psi, posing numerous risks to its human handlers. C&K removed those risks by teaming with Smart Water Systems to design and fabricate two different all-terrain, remote-controlled, hydroblasting robots. The robots have an articulating arm for high-level work and one for lower-level work.

ICP Adhesives and Sealants, Norton — Pneumatically-operated cylinder clamp

Prior to its innovation, this manufacturer of adhesives and sealants for the construction industry relied on employees to use manually operated clamps to attach filling nozzles to cylinders that were filled with sprayable materials. Each employee on six production lines typically filled 100 to 250 cylinders per day, risking potential repetitive stress and soft-tissue injuries. The job could get messy, too, exposing employees to chemicals and a hazardous clean-up process using acetone. ICP worked with a sales rep from a pneumatic control supplier to develop a pneumatic clamping mechanism, replete with electronic controls and monitoring devices to prevent accidental chemical release when removing the clamps.

Suburban Steel Supply Company, Gahanna – Electric transfer cart

This steel fabricator handles steel products weighing as much as 5,000 pounds and measuring up to 60 feet long. Prior to its innovation, the company used multiple employees, some using forklifts, to manually push carts on imbedded tracks to transfer the products. Workers were at risk for slips, trips, falls, muscle strains and forklift collisions. Suburban Steel’s solution was to motorize the existing transfer carts with battery operated motors and gear reducers. Employees now use handheld controllers and simply walk beside the cart. The carts also have laser scanners that trigger the cart to stop if they sense people or objects in the pathway.

Visit BWC’s YouTube Channel to view videos highlighting each company’s innovation, and read more on BWC’s website. Watch bwc.ohio.gov this summer for entry guidelines for the Safety Innovations Competition at next year’s Ohio Safety Congress & Expo.

Ohio BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison presents Buckeye Lake Winery owner Tracy Higginbotham with a certificate of appreciation for installing new safety equipment in the winery’s warehouse. At left is a lift for transporting pallets of wine to and from a mezzanine storage area, just one feature the winery installed with the help of a $40,000 safety intervention grant from BWC.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2017/04/web1_SarahMorrison.jpgOhio BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison presents Buckeye Lake Winery owner Tracy Higginbotham with a certificate of appreciation for installing new safety equipment in the winery’s warehouse. At left is a lift for transporting pallets of wine to and from a mezzanine storage area, just one feature the winery installed with the help of a $40,000 safety intervention grant from BWC.

Staff Reports

Man’s claim of mistaken identity fools no one; ordered to pay $22K to BWC

Tuesday, March 3, 2017 a busy day in court for BWC with 4 fraud convictions

COLUMBUS — A Knox County man caught scamming the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and trying to lie his way out of it was ordered to reimburse the agency $22,578 Tuesday and to pay $1,000 of it within six months or spend six months in jail.

“If we’re knocking on your door with a fraud allegation, lying won’t help your case,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “We are determined to stop fraud when we find it and to return any ill-gotten resources to their rightful purpose — taking care of injured workers and increasing workplace safety in this state.”

In one of four BWC court cases Tuesday, Scott Wells, 40, pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas — but not before blaming his cousin for the trouble he had gotten into.

BWC’s Special Investigations Department discovered Wells had been working as a truck driver while receiving BWC benefits when his name popped up in a state database showing his semi tractor-trailer had been stopped for an inspection by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. When confronted by investigators, Wells claimed it was a case of mistaken identity. He told agents his cousin had needed a job but didn’t have a commercial driver’s license, so he lent his license to his cousin and that’s who was stopped by PUCO in November 2013.

Wells’ cousin would not corroborate his story, however, nor would the trucking company and employment records.

In other fraud convictions Tuesday, all in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas:

Matthew Buckman of Columbus pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of attempted workers’ compensation fraud after BWC investigators found that he worked for two different employers at various times since 2013 while receiving injured workers’ benefits. Among his jobs, he worked as a full-time appliance installer, with no known physical limitations, from Feb. 14, 2014 to March 16, 2015. A judge sentenced Buckman to 60 days in jail, suspended, and ordered him to pay $2,710 in restitution to BWC.

Beverly J. Ritchie of Tiffin in northwest Ohio pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. The judge ordered her to pay $5,340 in restitution, which she paid immediately.

Enriquetta Valentine of Columbus was sentenced to one year of community control and ordered to pay $1,129 in restitution to BWC after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving BWC benefits.

In another recent fraud case, a Cleveland-area man on Feb. 23 was ordered to pay $28,669 in court costs and restitution to BWC after investigators found him working as a hotel maintenance engineer while receiving temporary total disability benefits from July 2, 2014 through Nov. 29, 2015.

A Franklin County judge also sentenced Willie A. Davis Jr., 58, of Bedford, to five years of community control and a suspended jail sentence of one year. Davis pleaded guilty to a fifth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud in January.

To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.

To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.