How much is saving a life worth to you?

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

The success and worth of education and training are difficult to measure, even if you administer evaluations, tests, etc.   We train and educate people to be safe, which inherently is hard to measure because a workplace primarily reports when something was not done safely and the result was an injury or accident of some type. By definition SAFETY means “the condition of being protected for or unlikely to cause danger, risk or injury.” So, for the more than 400 classes and thousands of online courses we deliver each year, it is not often we are able to measure how much saving a life is worth.

Recently a woman that took one of our classes notified us about how worthy it was to her in saving a life. The Director of Financial and Administrative Services at Salem-Pacific Rubber attended a First Aid in the Workplace class at our Canton Service Office. She emailed us the following story of how she helped save a life based on the training she received from BWC.

“Yesterday, an employee was experiencing what he thought was a heart attack.  The second shift foreman came to my office for me to come out on the plant floor for assistance.  The employee was conscious Aspirin between fingers.and able to talk to me, so I got him aspirin to put under his tongue to let it dissolve and told him not to drink any water.  I called 911 for an ambulance that transported him to the emergency room. This morning, I received a phone call from that employee.  He said:  “thank you for saving my life.”  He was told that the aspirin had saved him. He had a blockage and had a stent put in last night and is doing well.  Please let the instructor of the First Aid in the Workplace know how grateful I am for his class, and that the BWC offers it as well!”

How much is saving a life worth to you – or your family and loved ones?  We think priceless…and all of our education and training is available to BWC policyholders at no cost day-in and day-out.  If you are an employer or employee of an entity that pays workers’ compensation insurance in Ohio, why not take advantage of your BWC benefits?  You just might save a life – and then you can tell us how much our education and training is worth to you.

Visit the Education and Training Services section of the Division of Safety & Hygiene Services Catalog at www.bwc.ohio.gov/catalog to see the classes available to you…and how to enroll today!

BWC’s Special Investigations Dept nets 7 convictions in June

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation netted seven convictions in June in criminal cases related to workers’ compensation fraud.

“Investigating and putting an end to fraud helps protect the benefits of injured workers and keep employers’ premiums down,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “That’s why BWC is so proactive in pursuing all employers, medical providers, workers and others who are suspected of committing fraud.”

Those convicted include child care center operators, skilled tradesmen and others who had lapsed policies, forged certificates of coverage or worked while receiving injured worker’s benefits.

As of June 30, BWC’s Special Investigations Department had secured 55 convictions this calendar year. June convictions include:

  • Walter Dappert, (Butler County) – The owner of Dappert Masonry Construction pleaded guilty June 8 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. Investigators found he had forged a BWC certificate of coverage to show he had active coverage when, in fact, the policy had lapsed in 2010. A judge sentenced Dappert to three years community control, 40 hours of community service and restitution to BWC in the amount of $1,507. Dappert brought his BWC policy into compliance prior to sentencing.
  • Terry Shaver (Franklin County) – The Grove City man pleaded guilty June 8 to one count of workers compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, after investigators found him working for a pest control company while receiving injured worker’s benefits. A judge sentenced Shaver to 12 months probation and ordered him to pay $5,000 restitution to BWC by May 2017.
  • Karon Jones (Cuyahoga County) – The Cleveland-area child care center owner pleaded guilty June 13 in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to a first-degree misdemeanor count of Attempted Obstructing Official Business after investigators found her coverage had lapsed from Jan. 1, 2010 through June 30, 2015. A judge ordered Jones to pay BWC $33,985 in restitution.
  • Tenora Edwards-Jones (Cuyahoga County) – The child care center owner pleaded guilty June 14 in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to one count of Failure to Comply with the Law, a second-degree misdemeanor. Edwards-Jones had lapsed coverage at two day care centers in Cleveland Heights. Prior to her sentencing, she paid BWC $28,514 to bring both policies current.
  • Angelique Braxton (Franklin County) – The home health aide pleaded guilty June 15 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud after she was found working for 20 months while collecting BWC benefits. She paid BWC $1,902 for its investigation and $37,962 in restitution.
  • Gary Miller (Fairfield County) – The Columbus area painter pleaded guilty June 23 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, after investigators found he had forged a BWC certificate of coverage after his policy had lapsed. A judge in Fairfield County Municipal Court sentenced Miller to two years probation and ordered him to pay $732 in fines and restitution.
  • Brian DuVernay (Allen County) – The Lima-area man, owner of A Better Way Contracting, pleaded guilty June 24 to one count of Failure to Comply, a second-degree misdemeanor, after investigators found he hadn’t submitted payroll reports, causing his BWC policy to lapse. The Lima Municipal Court fined DuVernay $150 and warned that he would be jailed and face additional charges if he did not come into full compliance with BWC.

Additionally, a Northwest Ohio woman entered into a Hardin County Diversion Program in June in lieu of conviction after investigators found she had altered several BWC certificates of coverage to make them look current after they had lapsed. Kathy S. Detwiler, owner of Detwiler Enterprises Inc., must participate in the program for one year, complete at least 160 hours of community service and abide by all regulations concerning BWC. Once completed, all charges will be dropped.

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

Check out our latest cases at ohiobwcblog.wordpress.com and view BWC’s workers’ comp fraud awareness video on YouTube.

What does it mean to innovate?

SafetyInnovationsWebHeaderBy Bernie Silkowski, Director of Technical Services and Support, Division of Safety & Hygiene

What does it mean to innovate?  Is it to come up with a new idea or invent a new product or service?  Does modifying an existing process or applying it in a different way qualify as being innovative?

Actually, innovate means to go beyond conceiving or building the idea, invention, or modification by turning it into something that is useful, meaningful, and adds value.  In the case of safety and health, innovation means turning it into something that reduces either the likelihood of employees being injured, the severity of any potential injuries, or both.  That alone is reason to innovate.  The bonus is that safety innovations almost always have other benefits such as improvements in productivity, employee morale, and the bottom line.

BWC is looking for such workplace innovations that have made it safer for Ohio employees to work and earn a living.  The application period for BWC’s 2017 Safety Innovation Awards is now open.  As I said when writing about the 2016 awards, we don’t consider whether the innovation is high-tech, low-tech, or no-tech.  What matters are risk reduction, cost savings, and potential application to other workplaces, industries, or operations.

Just as success breeds success, innovation breeds innovation.  By sharing and recognizing safety innovations we inspire others to create and share their own.  With that in mind, check out the past winners to see if any inspire you or help you to realize you have an innovation worthy of submitting.

In the five years we’ve been making these awards, this is what we’ve learned about the typical characteristics of an award-winning safety innovation:

1. The problem often is identified by the employees.  Management listens.

2. Management taps the creativity of employees and involves them in developing and implementing a customized solution.

3. Management consults with a safety, ergonomics, or industrial hygiene professional to better understand the issue and ensure the innovation meets safety standards without creating new hazards.

4. The solution eliminates the hazard or reduces exposure to the hazard while making the overall work process more efficient.

5. A process is in place to ensure proper use and maintenance of the innovation, such as training and an inspection procedure.

6. The concept or technology is transferrable to other situations.

7. Everyone in the organization is proud of their innovation.

If you are an Ohio employer—or know one– that has taken an innovative step to reduce risk of injury or illness, check out the award criteria and application.

Applications will be accepted until September 30, 2016.  Five finalists will receive cash awards and state-wide recognition at the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo in Columbus March 8 to 10, 2017.

Innovation is one way Ohio continues to drive its injury rate down: fewer employees get injured, productivity increases, and workers’ compensation costs decrease.   It’s a win for employees.  It’s a win for employers.  It’s a win for Ohio!

BWC nets conviction after pizza chain owner doesn’t deliver

Mike Abro Booking Photo2.jpgThe owner of several Happy’s Pizza stores in Northeast Ohio must serve a year probation and pay the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation $18,000 after failing to bring one of his BWC policies into compliance.

Mike G. Abro, 43, of Avon Lake, pleaded guilty July 6 in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to one second-degree misdemeanor count of Failure to Comply. As a condition of his probation, Abro was ordered to bring the policy into compliance with the law. Abro made a $15,000 payment in June, and must enter into a payment plan on his remaining balance of approximately $18,000.

BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) started looking at Abro in early 2014 after BWC staffers could not resolve a payment issue with Happy Pizza’s Michigan headquarters. Investigators subsequently discovered Abro owned six Happy’s Pizza locations in Cuyahoga, Lorain and Stark counties, and four policies had lapsed.

BWC worked with Abro to bring those policies current, but pressed charges earlier this year after Abro failed to become compliant at his East Cleveland location.

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

BWC’s new ambulatory surgery center joint replacement program benefits Ohio’s injured workers, providers, employers

Lisa Landon, Program Administrator, Medical Reimbursement and Coding Policy

Outpatient Surgery CenterHealth care is one of the most rapidly changing industries today, which is creating both an exciting and challenging period for Ohio’s businesses and citizens. One of BWC’s key goals is to ensure Ohio’s injured workers have access to quality medical care. Our Medical & Health Services Division assesses innovative technologies, new methods of treatment and advanced reimbursement approaches in the medical field.

Adopting safe and effective health care innovations may help improve injured workers’ healing experiences and promote efficiency when providing medical care. This May we kicked off a new program that demonstrates our commitment to these goals—the ambulatory surgery center (ASC) joint replacement program.

What does the program entail?

Many injured workers have work-related medical conditions that require total or partial joint replacements, also known as arthroplasties, for their hips, knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows and wrists.  While they may require surgery, we also recognize that our injured-worker population often includes younger, healthier patients who may not pose the same surgical risks as older patients with multiple health issues.

ASCs are health care facilities that provide surgical services to patients that aren’t expected to require hospitalization or extended post-operative care.  With their physician’s medical clearance, an otherwise healthy injured worker in need of joint replacement surgery may opt to have the procedure performed in a qualified ASC instead of a hospital under this new program.

High-risk patients or injured workers with health issues that may affect surgical outcomes will continue to be treated at hospitals.  For the appropriate patient, BWC-certified ASCs offer a safe, convenient option for injured workers and the cost of treatment is often lower than hospitals.

For the program’s initial phase we are certifying ASCs to perform two joint replacement procedures which have in the past only been allowed in an inpatient or outpatient hospital setting—a partial shoulder replacement and a revision of a total shoulder replacement. In 2017, we plan to expand the program to include additional procedures which are currently only allowed in an inpatient hospital setting.

ASCs and quality

ASCs offer a safe alternative to hospitals for many surgical procedures. The State of Ohio requires ASCs to follow numerous clinical and administrative laws and rules that cover areas such as the admission, transfer and discharge of patients; personnel and staffing requirements; service standards; building requirements; quality improvement and other issues.

BWC requires all ASCs to have Ohio Department of Health license and Medicare participation to ensure they meet the standards required by the federal government. In addition, to participate in BWC’s ASC arthroplasty program, facilities must meet additional quality criteria beyond our normal ASC certification requirements including but not limited to:

  • Joint replacement program in place for at least one year;
  • Adequate physician credentialing criteria;
  • Adequate patient selection criteria;
  • Medicare and OAASC quality reporting.

With technological and safety advances, the health care industry is noting a clear trend for payers, including Medicare, to reimburse for more and more procedures in the ASC setting.

Injured worker benefits

Further facilitating injured workers’ opportunity to more effectively collaborate with their physician on the best course of their treatment, this new service expansion will:

  • Increase access to high quality medical care with more site of service options for surgery;
  • Allow quicker scheduling of procedures;
  • Increase convenience as ASCs are often in convenient locations with free parking.

Physician and employer benefits

Similar to injured workers, physicians and employers will benefit from the option of additional procedures being performed in the ASC setting.  This approach allows physicians increased options in the types of facilities that a surgical procedure can be safely performed.  This flexibility can lead to increased quality and efficiency.

Likewise, employers will benefit from increased costs efficiency associated with surgeries performed in ASCs.  With increased quality of care comes quicker healing and potentially, a faster return to work.

We believe this new program will ensure patient safety and increase site-of-service options for injured workers and physicians. BWC looks forward to our ASC program helping to reduce medical costs and potentially aiding injured workers to have a quicker and safer return to work. That means a win-win for Ohio’s injured workers, providers and employers.

Cleveland health care worker convicted of workers’ comp fraud

CrystalMooreA Cleveland woman caught holding a regular job while receiving injured worker’s benefits must pay the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) a little more than $16,000 and serve five years probation.

Crystal Moore, 31, was sentenced June 28 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas after pleading guilty to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud. The judge ordered her to pay the BWC $16,048 in monthly payments of at least $200. If Moore misses a payment, she must serve 30 days in jail.

The BWC Special Investigations Department found in early 2014 that Moore was working as a “patient services worker” for a health care company. Investigators subsequently discovered she was intentionally concealing her work activity and misrepresenting her physical activity to the BWC and her physicians so she could continue to receive BWC benefits.

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

Before you start to Grill – Remember Hank Hill

By Jeffrey Hutchins – Industrial Hygiene Technical Advisor

grillHank Hill, patriarch of TV’s “King of the Hill”, famously said “If you’re having grill problems, I feel bad for you son.  I’ve got 99 problems but propane ain’t one.”   Data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) indicates that the rest of us might not be so fortunate.

According to a 2016 NFPA report on grill fires[i] , fire departments responded to approximately 8900 home fires each year involving grills, hibachis or barbeques.

These fires caused annual averages of 10 civilian deaths, 160 civilian injuries and $118 million in direct property damage.  And much to Hank Hill’s dismay, LP-gas* was a major contributing cause.

Source: “Home Grill Fires” (2016) NFPA. Accessed 10 June 2016.[i]

The most common holidays for grilling are the Fourth of July (76%), followed by Labor Day and Memorial Day (each 62%), so it follows that more grill fires occur in July than any other month.

To avoid becoming one of these statistics, the NFPA and US Fire Administration[ii] recommend the following safety precautions:

  • Regardless of fuel source, BBQ grills should always be used outdoors.
  • Locate the grill well away (10 feet or more) from combustible material such as the house, deck railings, eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children* and pets away.

*Grill contact accounted for 37% of burns seen at emergency rooms in 2014 involving children under five.[iii]

  • Keep your grill free from oil & grease buildup, which is a common cause of fires.
  • Before lighting your gas grill, use a light soap & water solution to check all gas connections for leaks (appearance of bubbles).  Tighten any leaking connections.  If the leak will not stop, evacuate the area and call the fire department immediately.
  • Whether using a chimney-style starter or charcoal starter fluid, never leave burning charcoal unattended.
  • Never add starter fluid or any other flammable liquid to the fire.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

By following these steps, you can channel your inner Hank Hill in proclaiming “I got 99 problems, but grill fires ain’t one of them.”


References

[i] Home Grill Fires. (2016) NFPA

[ii] Grilling Fire Safety.  (2016) US Fire Safety Administration

[iii] Cooking Fact Sheet. (2015) NFPA 

* LP-gas = Liquefied Petroleum (Gas) can be either Propane or Butane or a mixture of both.