Share your knowledge at OSC20!

By Julie Darby Martin, BWC Safety Congress Manager

Do you have the experience to help make workplaces safer and healthier? Are you comfortable speaking to a crowd?

If so, you could be a presenter at our Ohio Safety Congress & Expo 2020 (OSC20), the nation’s largest occupational-focused safety and health event. We’re now accepting presentation proposals for this multi-day event, scheduled for March 11 – 13, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio.

OSC20 will feature more than 200 educational sessions taught by experts from across the nation. Topics include:

  • Safety management.
  • Government and regulation.
  • Health, wellness and rehabilitation.
  • Emergency preparedness and response.
  • Workers’ compensation.
  • Driving and transportation.
  • Training and education.
  • Personal protective equipment.
  • And much more.

We are seeking one-hour educational sessions, panel discussions, live demonstrations as well as three-hour and six-hour workshops. Typical attendees include occupational safety and risk-management directors, workers’ compensation managers, health and wellness leaders, and individuals with an interest in occupational safety and health, wellness and rehabilitation of injured workers.

OSC20 will also offer a virtual conference element. This live-stream format will allow viewers to attend a track of sessions from their personal computer or mobile device. When submitting your proposal, you will have the option to express interest in, opt-out of or pose questions regarding your session being considered for the virtual conference.

We’re accepting applications until July 19. For application guidelines and to submit your proposal, visit our call for presentations site. Want to see highlights from our most recent event? Check out our OSC19 Twitter recap.

It’s no accident: BWC safety staffer earns industry award

By Tony Gottschlich, Public Information Officer

When industrial hygienist Phillip Rauscher talks about his job with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), he sounds like a third-grader on the morning of a school field trip to the zoo.

“Every day is a field trip for me,” said the smiling five-year veteran of BWC’s Division of Safety & Hygiene. “I visit employers all over northwest Ohio to identify and remediate safety hazards so no one gets sick or injured on the job. It’s extremely satisfying work, and I never get tired of it.”

He’s apparently good at it, too. That’s why Rauscher earned this year’s John J. Bloomfield Award from the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). The award recognizes a young industrial hygienist who pursues the problem of occupational health hazards primarily by doing fieldwork.

In a news release, the ACGIH noted Rauscher’s “outstanding contributions to the industrial hygiene profession” and “exemplary” impact as a practitioner and a leader.

“I was grinning ear to ear when I was notified about the award,” said Rauscher, 31, the fourth BWC employee to capture the award in its 40-year history and the first in 21 years. “On top of that, it was my birthday, so it was a pretty good day.”

Rauscher, who is based in BWC’s Toledo service office, was honored May 22 at the ACGIH’s conference in Minneapolis. He was nominated by BWC colleague Jeff Hutchins, a 1993 Bloomfield award winner.

“It is obvious that this is more than just a job to him — he has a real passion for occupational safety and health that comes through in his interaction with peers and customers alike,” said Hutchins, who manages the Safety and Hygiene division’s technical advisors. “He has that rare combination of extremely high-level technical skills and great interpersonal skills that allow him to effectively communicate complex concepts to a wide variety of audiences.”

Making a difference

Rauscher said he knew early in his BWC career that he could make a positive difference in the lives of working Ohioans.

In his first weeks on the job, for instance, he visited a metal grinding business cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for producing excessive metal dust without proper ventilation.

“It was so bad the employees were wearing respirators all the time while they were working,” he said. “But respirators aren’t a perfect system. You think you’re protected but it’s not 100 percent protection.”

Rauscher provided guidance on a ventilation system that improved the workplace air quality, met OSHA standards and allowed workers to remove their respirators — all at no extra charge to the employer. BWC’s safety services are covered by employer premiums.

BWC Industrial Hygienist Phil Rauscher measures noise levels in a Toledo factory earlier this month.

“A private consultant would charge up to $300 an hour and cost thousands by the day,” Rauscher noted.

Among several academic and industry credentials, Rauscher earned his bachelor’s degree in public health with a minor in chemistry from Youngstown State University. He earned a master’s in environmental/ occupational health from the University of Toledo. He’s currently working online for a master’s degree in advanced safety engineering management from The University of Arkansas, Birmingham.

Born in Cleveland and raised in Mansfield, Rauscher lives in Bowling Green today on an 11-acre farm with his wife Mollie and two children.

Other Bloomfield winners from BWC include Scott Hayes (1998) and Mark Ashworth (1990).

BWC secures 7 fraud convictions in April

Fraudsters ordered to pay BWC nearly $107,000 in restitution

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation secured seven fraud convictions in April, all workers who were discovered working for a living while collecting disability benefits from the agency.

Those convicted were ordered to pay BWC a combined total of $106,995 in restitution.

“We look forward to recouping those dollars so they can serve a legitimate purpose – taking care of injured workers,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud.

In order of most recent court appearance, those convicted in April include:

Clinton Walker of Cincinnati, Ohio
Walker pleaded guilty April 25 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. He was ordered to pay BWC $9,831 in restitution and $3,600 in investigative costs. He provided a cashier’s check to BWC at his hearing for the full amount.

Ernest Thomas of Boardman, Ohio
Thomas pleaded guilty April 23 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, which was suspended for six months of probation, and ordered to pay a $500 fine and court costs. Thomas paid restitution and investigative costs totaling $10,605 to BWC at the time of his plea.

Michael D. Myers of Lebanon, Ohio
Myers pleaded guilty April 22 to a fifth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud in Franklin County after BWC found him working while collecting disability benefits in 2016 and 2017. A judge ordered Myers to pay BWC $45,338 in restitution, perform 25 hours of community service and serve one year of probation in lieu of six months in prison.

Antonio Daniels of Streetsboro, Ohio
Daniels pleaded guilty April 17 to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud after BWC found him working as an industrial assembler while collecting BWC benefits. A Franklin County judge ordered Daniels to pay BWC $6,409 in restitution and serve five years of probation in lieu of 30 days in jail.

Kristin Stuhldreher of Youngstown, Ohio
Stuhldreher pleaded guilty April 16 to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud after investigators found her working as a restaurant manager while collecting BWC disability benefits. A judge ordered her to pay BWC $18,239 in restitution and serve five years of probation.

Amanda Treadway of Reynoldsburg, Ohio
Treadway was ordered to pay BWC $5,010 in restitution after pleading guilty April 4 to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. BWC discovered Treadway working as a swimming pool attendant at a condominium complex in 2017 and also as a phlebotomist while collecting BWC disability benefits.

Antoine Harris of Cincinnati, Ohio
Harris was convicted of a fifth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud April 3 after BWC found him working as a truck driver while collecting disability benefits. Harris paid BWC $7,963 in restitution prior to his guilty plea. A judge subsequently terminated Harris’s sentence of one month of probation.

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

Be TICK Smart! Protect, Check, Remove, Watch

Prevent tick bites and the diseases they carry

As the weather warms and we’re spending more time outdoors, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) urges us to take precautions in preventing tick bites and the diseases they may carry.

This is particularly important if you work outside. You need to take added precautions to prevent tick bites such as wearing protective and light-colored clothing as well as using EPA-registered repellents. Here’s what the ODH has to say about this vital health issue:

“Diseases spread by ticks are an increasing concern in Ohio,” said ODH Director Amy Acton, M.D., MPH. “The best way to prevent tickborne diseases is to prevent tick bites by taking simple precautions at home and when working or playing in wooded or brushy areas from early spring to late fall.”

Tick-bite symptoms 

Dr. Acton also recommends people who get sick from a tick bite contact their health care provider. This is particularly true if you have symptoms like:

  • A fever or headache.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Joint pain or muscle aches.
  • Fatigue.
  • A rash.

Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Ticks are most active during the warm months, and most diseases in Ohio happen between the spring and late fall. However, blacklegged ticks that can transmit Lyme disease are active when it’s colder. You can encounter them any time the temperature is above freezing.

The most common Ohio tickborne diseases include Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. There were 293 Lyme disease cases and 38 Rocky Mountain spotted fever cases reported in the state last year.

Tips to keep ticks away

  • Walk in the middle of trails. Avoid tall grass, brush and leaf litter.
  • Use EPA-registered repellents labeled for use against ticks on the skin. Follow the label’s instructions. These repellents are safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • Treat clothing and your gear such as pants, boots, socks and tents with a product containing permethrin, or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear. Do not apply permethrin directly on your skin.
  • Wear long pants, sleeves and socks. Tuck your pant legs into your socks and your shirt into your pants.
  • Wear light colors to make it easier to see ticks.

Remove ticks from everyone’s skin 

ODH says it’s important to check yourself, your children and pets thoroughly after spending time in areas that may have ticks.

  • If you find a tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull it away from your skin with a steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick, which can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in your skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you’re unable to remove the mouth-parts easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  • Safely dispose of the tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
  • Then, wash your hands and the bite area with soap and water.
  • Don’t use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish or any other “folk” remedies to remove a tick as these methods don’t work.

Here’s a video from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources that shows you how to remove a tick.  For more information and resources, visit the ODH website.

Ohio woman keeps BWC benefits alive after father dies

Owes BWC more than $29,000 after fraud conviction

A northeastern Ohio woman pleaded guilty May 9 to workers’ compensation fraud after investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) found her collecting her father’s benefits for more than two years after he died.

Deborah Rosenlieb of Cuyahoga Falls pleaded guilty to the fourth-degree felony in the Summit County Common Pleas Court, where a judge ordered her to pay BWC $29,418 in restitution. The judge also ordered Rosenlieb to serve two years of community service.

“Ms. Rosenlieb’s father was receiving death benefits on behalf of his late wife, but when her father died in January 2016 she didn’t let us know,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud. “She knew she wasn’t entitled to these benefits, but she used them for personal expenses until we learned of her scheme in April 2018.”

In other news:

A Cleveland man must pay BWC $3,525 in restitution after pleading guilty Monday to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud after BWC found him working as a maintenance technician and office manager while collecting disability benefits.

James Nichols, 57, also must serve two years of probation and pay court costs. He paid $1,000 toward his restitution prior to entering his guilty plea in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

A Youngstown woman pleaded guilty May 2 to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud after BWC found her working for a call center while collecting disability benefits.

A Franklin County judge ordered Natasha Mitchum, 42, to pay BWC $1,863 in restitution and serve three years of probation.

A Canton electrician avoided a potential felony conviction for workers’ compensation fraud May 1 by paying BWC $54,220 in restitution prior to his sentencing.

John Griggy, 48, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working intermittently from 2013 through 2016 while collecting disability benefits. A Cuyahoga County judge waived fines and court costs.

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

BWC honors top safety councils of 2018

By Michelle Francisco, BWC Safety Council Program Manager

Our efforts to protect Ohio’s workforce would not be the same without our partnership with each of the safety councils throughout the state. By offering training and other safety and health resources, they have a profound effect on the quality of life in their communities.

Each May, Ohio’s safety council sponsors and leaders meet to get the latest news, network and share best practices in safety council program management. At this annual event, we honor the highest achieving programs in the state with our Safety Council of the Year Awards.

BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud was there to present the 2018 awards to all the winners.

First place went to the Mid-Ohio Valley Safety Council sponsored by the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Safety Council serves more than 130 members and has a 90-percent attendance average. The council, the second-place award winner for 2017, invested all its award money by introducing a grant program allowing members to apply for grants for workplace safety initiatives. The council also awards a $500 scholarship for students pursuing a career in nursing. Additionally, it offered community-based education on the opioid epidemic.

Stark County Safety Council, sponsored by the Canton Area Chamber of Commerce, took home the second-place award.

In third place was the Summit County Safety Council.

Taking fourth place was the Ross County Safety Council sponsored by the Chillicothe-Ross Chamber of Commerce.

Five additional safety councils earned an honorable mention, including the:

Congratulations to the 2018 Safety Council of the Year award recipients! And thanks to all the Ohio safety councils for partnering with us to make Ohio’s workplaces safer and healthier.

Visit bwc.ohio.gov for more information about the Safety Council Program.