BWC SID: Our Journey to Excellence – Part 1 of 3

0005 -- Administrator Buehrer -- Introductory Remarks -- IMG_2876In our constant quest for improvement, all members of the Bureau of Workers’
Compensation Special Investigations Department (SID) gathered on October 22, 2015 at our Mansfield service office to successfully complete annual in-service training. The theme of this year’s training event was “Our Journey to Excellence: Past, Present and Future.”

BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer welcomed the 125 attendees and opened the meeting. In his opening remarks, Administrator Buehrer praised the department’s more than 20 years of success, noting that throughout its history SID has generated more than $7 in savings for every budgetary dollar expended. He cited other SID performance results, lauding SID for having annually identified more than $55 million in savings to the State Insurance Fund during each of the last five consecutive years.

“Investigating fraud is a vital part of the workers’ compensation business,” Administrator Buehrer said. “Identifying fraud puts dollars back into the State Insurance Fund and supports our efforts to keep premiums as low as possible.”

SID Mtg 2015

Pictured left to right: James Wernecke, Jennifer Saunders, Tamela Dixon, Sarah Morrison and Steve Buehrer.

Following these remarks, Administrator Buehrer, Chief Legal Officer Sarah Morrison, SID Director James Wernecke and SID Assistant Director Jennifer Saunders presented service pins to 14 SID employees. These recipients included seven employees with 20 years of service and one, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Tamela Dixon, with 25 years of service to the State of Ohio.

Subsequently, SID Director James Wernecke thanked Administrator Buehrer for his executive leadership, ongoing support for SID’s mission, and presence at the annual event. All of members of the Special Investigations Department joined Director Wernecke in thanking Administrator Buehrer for inspiring us to realize our departmental mission to deter, detect, investigate and prosecute workers’ compensation fraud.

In the coming two weeks, we will offer more details from October 22 training event. Stay tuned for part two of the series, which acknowledges specialized training we received at the event.

In the meantime, you can read the past posts about our SID Director here and our most recent annual report here.

Logan County fire chief pleads guilty to workers’ compensation fraud

Donald Detrick booking photoColumbus – The chief of the Bokecreek Fire Department in Logan County paid more than $25,000 in restitution to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) this week after pleading guilty to workers’ compensation fraud. Donald Detrick appeared in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on Oct. 27 following a BWC investigation that found he worked three jobs while collecting workers’ compensation benefits.

“BWC’s goal is to assist injured workers so they can recover and return to their jobs as quickly as possible,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “The type of benefit Mr. Detrick was receiving is reserved for those whose injuries prevent them from returning to work. That’s why the money he has returned will be put back into our fund and be used to provide compensation and medical care to truly injured workers.”

BWC’s Special Investigations Department opened an investigation after receiving an allegation that Detrick, of West Mansfield, may be working while receiving benefits for a workplace injury. The investigation revealed that Detrick worked as the fire chief for Bokecreek Township in Logan County, fire safety coordinator for York Township in Logan County and as a certified water inspector for Midwest Express while collecting temporary total disability benefits.

Prior to the plea, Detrick paid $25,586.40 to the Clerk of Courts in order to pay in full his restitution of $22,155.04 and investigative costs of $3,431.36. A judge sentenced him to community control for six months under the condition that he pay the restitution and investigative costs, have no new convictions, and pay all court costs. He will serve six months in jail if he does not meet these terms.

To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov. Check out our latest cases at ohiobwcfraud.wordpress.com, and see what workers’ compensation fraud looks like in our fraud awareness video on YouTube.

Use the power of knowledge to reduce injuries

By Ellen S. Nasner, BWC Education and Training Services Manager

What is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your employees from workplace injuries and accidents? Arm yourself, and your employees, with knowledge.

Safety experts at BWC can connect you with that knowledge. Safety training and education offerings available through our Division of Safety & Hygiene can open all of the doors to safety in your organization, including industrial hygiene; construction safety; ergonomics safety management; risk management; and how to develop a safety culture.

Safety Services CatalogOur Safety Services Catalog (www.bwc.ohio.gov/catalog) provides a listing of all our safety services and is an added
value to your employer services and benefits. In the Education and Training Services Section of the catalog, we offer information on 14 online courses and more than 400 classroom and onsite trainings at 12 different locations.  All of our safety services are available at no additional charge to employers covered by Ohio’s workers’ compensation insurance, and their employees.

Our experts and those we bring in from around the country to train in specialty areas teach all of our workshops and classes.  Some examples of those we bring in to teach are:

  • Environmental Options, Inc. that provide instruction on all of our Hazwoper courses and the Health Hazard Awareness & Toxicology Basics course;
  • Langlois, Weignad & Associates, Inc. that teach the ASP & CSP courses;
  • National Excavation & Safety Training Institute that instruct Trenching and Excavation.

It’s all available to you as a BWC policyholder.  Just visit www.bwc.ohio.gov/catalog to select your training.  Then go to www.bwclearningcenter.com to enroll in classes that will help you put safety first.

If you would like a consultant to contact you to review safety options for your workplace call 1-866-569-7805.

Let us know in the comments section if you have recently taken a class through our training department and how it may have impacted your perspective on safety.

Delaware County man ran heating and cooling business while on workers’ comp

MORROWTimothy Morrow of Delaware (Delaware County) pleaded guilty to one first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud on Oct. 20 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

SID opened an investigation after receiving an allegation that Morrow was operating his own HVAC business while receiving disability benefits from the BWC.

The investigation, which included a review of bank records and multiple interviews, confirmed Morrow did own and operate a business, TTM Mechanical, and conducted HVAC installations and repairs during the time he was receiving benefits. The evidence obtained during the course of the investigation also revealed that he intentionally misrepresented and withheld his employment from BWC.

Morrow was sentenced to 30 days in the Franklin County Jail, suspended, and he was placed on six months of probation.  He was also ordered to pay court costs along with $8,399.74 in restitution to BWC.  The restitution was paid at the clerk’s office after the hearing.

Ever have a cramp or ache after work and wonder, “what did I do?”

Ergonomics of your workspace may be the answer to the question.
By Mike Lampl, BWC Ergonomics Technical Advisor

What is Ergonomics?
A practical definition for ergonomics is the science of matching workers and workplaces in a manner that improves worker productivity while lowering the risk of injury and discomfort.  More scientifically, ergonomics is the study of human abilities and limitations and the application of this information to the design of the man-made environment.  Think of something you have done to make your own job easier, more comfortable, and more productive.  That is ergonomics.

Ergonomics in the workplace is mostly directed at musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).  In addition to injury reduction, ergonomics often positively impacts productivity, quality, employee turnover, and morale.

How can ergonomics be incorporated into the workplace?
O Reduce forceful exertions.
O Reduce manual loading by using convey­ors, hoists and other mechanical means.
Ergo blog 1O Use carts, hand-trucks or powered equipment when moving materials.
O Minimize the weight of tools.
O Use vices and clamps to hold materials.
O Learn from each other how to best use tools safely and efficiently.


Ergo blog 2

Ergo blog 6
O Maintain neutral postures as much as possible.
– Maintain the s-curve in your back. This can be achieved by tilting containers and
using seats with good lumbar support.
O Maintain a straight neck. Adjust working heights or tilt the equipment.
O Reduce the mechanical pressure on your soft tissues.
– Add padding to tools.
– Use cushioned chairs.
– Use floor mats.
O Maintain straight wrists. Use tools with proper thickness, length and shape.
O Work at approximately elbow height — slightly below for heavier work and slightly
above for precision work.
O When lifting, lift between your knee and shoulder height and carry at about your
waist height.
O Minimize reaching. Locate frequently used items as close to you as possible.

With MSDs caused by overexertion and/or repetitive motion accounting for roughly one out of three occupational injuries , ergonomics continues to be an important consideration in the workplace.

Employers in Ohio and throughout the nation have added ergonomic improvements such as lift tables, better tools, lifting devices, workstations with adjustability, etc.  Many have seen great success in injury reduction and avoidance as well as productivity improvements.

What has been your greatest success in regards to ergonomic improvements? Share it in our comment section so maybe others in our safety community can learn from it as well.

Be safe Ohio!

Welcome to the new BWC blog!

Why do we call the blog Prevention & Care? Because everything we do at BWC ties to two simple goals: the prevention of workplace injuries and care of workers who are injured on the job.

With this blog, we plan to keep you informed with the most recent updates from BWC, as well as offer helpful information and tips on a range of issues. So whether you’re an Ohio employer, worker, medical provider, other stakeholder, or just an interested citizen, we hope you’ll find our blog informative and useful.

This blog features sections covering a number of topics of interest to our customers and partners. We kick off today with a post covering one of the most important aspects of workers’ compensation – prevention – because a focus on safe workplaces keeps Ohio workers healthy and productive.

Abe Al-TarawnehAbeAltarawneh leads BWC’s Division of Safety and Hygiene and he appropriately kicks off our safety category with a post reflecting on the importance of making safety a priority in every workplace.

The Case for Safety
Many of us wake up in the morning and head out to work without thinking about it. While we all tend to resist change, we humans are the most adapting species. We are very habitual and most of our attitudes, behaviors, and/or in/actions are dictated by what is acceptable to the collection of the rest of us. This explains how our parents, grandparents and their grandparents took huge risks and performed work under extreme conditions while exposed to major hazards. In my office, I have pictures of kids, probably 12 to 15 years old, who worked in mines at the turn of the past century. Abe's picture 2Most of them with dirty faces and tired eyes, yet they had beaming smiles. Knowing what I know about the working conditions in mines, I wonder how life turned out for these kids as they became older. I wonder if any of them suffered from black lung disease, back; knee and/or shoulder injuries. How did they handle the pain of sprains and strains without Tylenol? And, when my mind wanders to the extreme, had any of them died by asphyxiation in a confined space or in a tunnel collapse? Sometimes, I wish I could talk to them as I am sure that each one of them has stories that surpass the best of fiction.

I am so glad that we do not live in the world these kids lived in and I can only hope that our kids and their kids will live in a much better world than the one we live in today. A world where nobody would lose a limb or a finger, be overrun by a forklift, be killed in a car accident, lift heavy loads all day long or repeat the same movement with the same body parts throughout a shift.

Our role in safety goes much beyond pointing out hazards and telling people how to fix them. If we confine ourselves to that role, which is an important day to day role, then our work ends at the end of the work day. Yet, it shouldn’t, because our role in safety is creating a better world for those who we love and care about for generations to come. Our achievement is measured by how we positively affect people’s expectations of a safer and better world for all of us. This is what safety is about, it is about improving the standards of living for us and then more by paying it forward to next generations.

There will be a world for future generations in which occupational fatalities and injuries, car accidents, traffic fatalities will be a thing of the past. And, we will be smiling somewhere…

Thank you, Abe, for sharing your insights into safety.

We’ll post weekly updates we hope will help inspire Ohio employers and workers to elevate their awareness of and attention to safety in workplaces across Ohio. So bookmark or favorite this site, and come back every Tuesday for the latest safety blog post.