Ohio employers receive $942,000 in workplace safety grants

Forty-one Safety Intervention Grants were approved in December. Employers in twenty-eight counties around the state will share more than $942,000 in grants to purchase equipment designed to substantially reduce or eliminate workplace injuries and illnesses.

Counties include:

Allen Auglaize Brown Clark
Clinton Cuyahoga Fairfield Franklin
Greene Guernsey Hamilton Holmes
Jackson Knox Lorain Lucas
Mahoning Montgomery Portage Preble
Richland Sandusky Scioto Seneca
Stark Van Wert Wayne Wood

Click here for a listing of recipients by county, including descriptions of planned equipment purchases.

The Safety Intervention Grant program provides employers with a 3-to-1 matching amount up to a maximum of $40,000. Quarterly data reports and follow-up case studies help BWC determine the effectiveness of employers’ safety interventions and establish best practices for accident and injury prevention.

Learn more about the Safety Intervention Grant Program at bwc.ohio.gov. View stories about previous grant recipients on BWC’s YouTube channel.

Cross match in state agency databases leads to fraud convictions

A routine check on injured worker names through state agency databases led to convictions this week of two Ohio men on workers’ compensation fraud charges.

Investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) ran the workers’ names by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and found records indicating they were employed while concurrently receiving temporary total disability benefits from BWC.

dasse-booking-photoFrederic Dasse, 44, of Canal Winchester, pleaded guilty Wednesday in a Franklin County court room to one misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud.

A judge ordered Dasse to pay $5,472 in restitution to BWC by July 25 or face 180 days in jail.

beasley-booking-photoIn a separate and unrelated case, Robert Beasley, 56, of Cleveland, must pay BWC $7,065 in restitution after pleading guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud.

The judge also sentenced Beasley to three years of community control after suspending a 180-day jail sentence.

BWC’s Special Investigations Department discovered Dasse, a security guard when he was injured in 2013, was working two jobs while receiving BWC benefits. They found Beasley working as cleaner for a Cleveland-area company while receiving benefits.

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

Opioid education: the dangers of addiction and dependence

By Nick Trego, BWC Clinical Operations Manager

Opioid analgesics are potent pain relieving medications that can cause numerous side effects that range from itching to chronic constipation to hormone deficiencies.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers opioid analgesics to be dangerous drugs with a high potential for abuse and with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Prior to initiating therapy with opioid analgesics, patient education surrounding the risks and benefits of these medications is essential to understanding and developing realistic expectations of treatment outcomes.

Due to the addictive nature of these medications, the Ohio BWC is also taking additional steps to prevent addiction, including collaborating with other organizations to develop fact sheets to help providers, employers and injured workers better understand the potential risks of excessive opioid use.

A few statistics show the importance of understanding the impact opioids are having in Ohio and across the United States:

  • Prescription opioids are associated with more fatal overdoses than any other prescription or illegal drug including cocaine and heroin.1
  • In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication, enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pills.2
  • Unintentional drug overdose continued to be the leading cause of injury-related death in Ohio in 2015, ahead of motor vehicle traffic crashes – a trend which began in 2007.3
  • Unintentional drug overdoses caused the deaths of 3,050 Ohio residents in 2015, the highest number on record, compared to 2,531 in 2014. The number of overdose deaths increased 20.5 percent from 2014 to 2015, which is similar to the increase from 2013 to 2014.4

Increased understanding of the safety and risks associated with the use of opioids will benefit those seeking the best possible medical treatment without facing the consequences of dependence or addiction.

We invite you to review these new educational materials and share them with your colleagues, family and friends.

The fact sheets can be found on BWC’s website:

BWC’s medical director, Dr. Stephen Woods, addressed the importance of balancing short term pain management and the longer term risk of addiction in an earlier blog post

For more information, email Pharmacy.Benefits@bwc.state.oh.us.


1 Ohio’s Opiate Epidemic, Mental Health & Recovery Board – Erie and Ottawa Counties, Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Committee

2 CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain – United States, 2016

3, 4  2015 Ohio Drug Overdose Data: General Findings, Governor’s Cabinet Opioid Action Team

Educating and elevating the work comp industry

kendra-depaulBy Kendra DePaul, BWC Other States Coverage Manager

Last week, BWC staff headed to Scottsdale, Arizona to participate in a planning session for the Annual Conference of the American Association of States Compensation Insurance Funds (AASCIF). AASCIF is an association of workers’ compensation state funds from 26 different states, plus 8 workers’ compensation boards in Canada.

This year the conference will be held in June in Oklahoma City.

AASCIF has 10 committees composed of workers’ compensation professionals across the United States. One of the roles of the committees is to choose session topics and find speakers to present at the annual conference.

Three BWC employees are members of AASCIF’s committees. Michael Rienerth, Ergonomics Technical Advisor is on the Safety and Health Committee. Bill Teets, Communications Director is on the Communications Committee and I am on the Enterprise Risk Management and Underwriting Committee.

I think all of us would agree that the planning sessions were engaging and insightful. Over 100 people, passionate about workers’ compensation shared their individual state fund experiences and put their heads together to plan sessions designed to educate and elevate the industry as a whole.

Here’s a sneak peak of the hot topics at the 2017 conference:

The Safety and Health Committee is planning three sessions – all of which will be in a panel discussion format to encourage sharing of successful strategies. One session will focus on emerging technologies for safety such as use of mobile apps, virtual reality, drones and collision avoidance systems. Another session will explore various approaches for addressing violence in the workplace including active shooter training and reducing combative behaviors in schools and health care settings. The third session will facilitate sharing of strategies related to communication, market segmentation, targeted campaigns, and customer loyalty and incentive programs for enhancing customer engagement.

The Communications Committee discussions were related to the support of AASCIF itself. In particular how communications can promote the desire to better identify what AASCIF is and the benefits of membership. It also discussed a number of potential sessions for June, including thought leadership, crisis communication, video storytelling and promoting AASCIF.

And the Enterprise Risk Management and Underwriting Committee will be planning sessions focused on how changing industries and workplaces will affect the way insurers underwrite and what the underwriter of 2030 may look like. In the same vein, you can expect sessions examining how technology and robotics could change the workers’ compensation world as we know it.

For us committee members, much work still needs to be done to ensure the conference will provide value and inspiration to those attending. These are all topics of great importance as the workers’ comp industry engages in a national conversation on changes necessary to improve and innovate. We were pleased to participate. If the energy in the planning meeting is any indication of the annual conference, we can expect an exciting and informative conference in June.

Prison guard cheats workers’ comp system, must reimburse BWC

jason-chamberlin-booking-photoA Ross County prison guard must pay the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation nearly $6,000 in restitution after investigators found him working while collecting injured workers’ benefits.

Jason E. Chamberlin of Kingston, about 11 miles northeast of Chillicothe, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud Jan. 12 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) got a tip in 2015 that Chamberlin might be working after a representative from a managed care organization called him at home and was told he was at work. The investigation revealed Chamberlin knowingly returned to work at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution while receiving temporary total disability benefits. He failed to notify BWC that he returned to work and he continued to withdraw payments from his BWC debit card.

A judge sentenced Chamberlin to 180 days in jail, but suspended the jail term for five years probation. The probation could terminate sooner if Chamberlin pays full restitution, $5,918, in less time.

Keep Riding the Wave!

By Noori Butt, Technical Medical Specialist, Reimbursement and Coding Policy Department

A famous shark attack survivor once said, “I’ve learned life is a lot like surfing. When you get caught in the impact zone, you need to get right back up, because you never know what’s over the next wave… and if you have faith, anything is possible, anything at all.” – Bethany Hamilton

Bethany is an amputee who has proven time and time again that with a solid support system, motivation, and grit that anything can be possible. You may have seen her story in the movie, Soul Surfer (2011) 1, that highlights Hamilton’s 2003 shark attack survival and her ultimate return to a victorious professional surfing career.

Stories like Bethany’s really hit home. At BWC, the Reimbursement and Coding Policy Department works with injured worker amputees to ensure they receive quality care and services. We collaborate with managed care organizations (MCOs), prosthetic vendors and BWC staff to work toward an efficient, timely, and simplistic process for delivering prosthetic services to Ohio’s injured workers.

This collaboration has resulted in the creation of the BWC Prosthetics Workgroup. This group is tasked with the responsibility to assist in developing standards for the billing and reimbursement of prosthetic devices. Our goal is to use the standardization to create a more efficient and cost effective approach to purchasing high-end, computerized prosthetics. We hope to reduce the overall lag time from physician prescription to the time the injured worker receives his or her fitted, programmed prosthesis. Our workgroup members have gained valuable insight into the prosthetics and orthotics industry as a whole, as well as an appreciation of relevant BWC polices.

In addition to the workgroup, Medical Services recently published a Prosthetic Policy Alert. The alert was published in an effort to assist MCOs with inconsistencies related to the new Prosthetic Pricing Methodology that was implemented in the beginning of 2016. BWC worked to collect input from both MCOs and prosthetic vendors to
include in the alert. The Prosthetic Alert provides details to clarify procedures involved in dispensing of devices in an efficient and consistent manner.

We remain positive as we continue our efforts of further improving prosthetic and orthotic protocols and procedures to best serve Ohio’s injured workers.

As Hamilton enthusiastically implied in her quote – just keep riding the wave!

McNamara, S. (Director). (2011) Soul Surfer [film]. Hawaii, USA: Island Film Group.

Find your company’s words to live by at OSC17!

By Julie Darby-Martin, BWC Safety Congress Manager

Be Safe Ohio. That’s the motto we live by at BWC. It’s also the spirit of our 2017 Ohio Safety Congress & Expo (OSC17).

Does your organization have a motto or guiding principle when it comes to safety in your workplace? OSC17 can help you shape the character of your company’s safety and health program – its beliefs, focus and direction.

Whether you’ve been before or if this is your first visit, safety congress gives you the opportunity to:

  • Learn new information;
  • See innovative products;
  • Gather information;
  • Ask questions.

OSC17 – the largest regional safety and health conference in the U.S. – is happening March 8-10 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Best of all, attendance is FREE for Ohio employers, their employees and all individuals with an interest in occupational safety and health.

With more than 200 educational sessions, 250 exhibitors, opportunities for free continuing education and BWC program credits, you won’t want to miss this edition!

Let OSC17 help your organization find its words to live by. Pour them into your safety program and inspire others to do the same. Then, watch others begin to embrace these same principles.

Register for OSC17 today

Follow the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo on Twitter: @OhioBWC, #OSC17