High-hazard employers find success with BWC consulting program

By Ben Smigielski, BWC Occupational Safety & Hygiene Fellow

Egelhof Controls Corporation worked with BWC’s OSHA On-Site consultants to help it attain Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program accreditation.

It’s amazing how 10 words – We’re strictly consultative. We cannot issue citations or propose penalties – can ease the minds of employers when they hear them from a BWC OSHA on-site consultant.

When most employers hear the word “OSHA,” they instantly think of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, big government, and costly fines and citations. But that’s not the case with BWC’s OSHA On-Site Consultation Program. We are dedicated to providing no-cost consultation on a voluntary basis.

That’s right, no cost. Just click on your county for contact information and give us a call.

This program gives priority to smaller private employers in high-hazard industries, often with incredible success.

How it works

An employer requests this confidential consultation through BWC. Employers can ask for an inspection of their entire workplace, or just focus on one or more specific areas of concern. This allows them to tailor the consultation to their liking, involving them in the process rather than just simply running through a rigid process. The program also offers:

  • Safety program assistance.
  • Safety and hygiene training or seminars.
  • Printed and electronic resources.

Using these services helps employers improve safety and health management systems. It also helps them recognize and remove hazards from the workplace, which reduces worker injury and illness rates. In turn, this can lead to a variety of other positive effects, such as decreasing workers’ comp costs, improving worker morale, and increasing productivity.

Creating success stories

One such success story is Egelhof Controls Corporation of Toledo. The company achieved Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) accreditation from OSHA in March 2018. The company earned the distinction after working for months with BWC consultants to make changes to safety programs, work processes, and management’s role in safety.

SHARP accreditation recognizes employers with exemplary safety and health programs. It acknowledges their success in instilling health and safety practices (along with implementing a culture of health and safety) in their workplace.

Perhaps we could help your company accomplish the same. We are here to help. If you think implementing safety measures might be too burdensome and costly, consider this question: What are the costs of NOT investing in safety?

To request an OSHA On-site consultation, submit the request online. Please have your BWC policy number ready. A safety consultant will contact you within two business days. 

Nearly $1 million owed BWC in employer fraud case

Cleveland-area business owner convicted of fraud Monday

A northeast Ohio business owner owes the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation nearly $1 million in restitution following his conviction Monday in Cleveland on workers’ compensation fraud charges.

Robert E. Fitz, an attorney and owner of Action Maids residential cleaning company in Westlake, Ohio, pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud after refusing to cooperate with BWC to bring his lapsed policy into compliance.

“Mr. Fitz owes at least $965,000 in unpaid premiums and for the costs of injured worker claims that occurred while his policy was lapsed,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud. “If he had just followed the law and paid his premiums, he wouldn’t be in this trouble today.”

At his conviction hearing in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Fitz agreed to work with BWC and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to provide his company’s financial reports and enter a reinstatement payment plan prior to his sentencing date of Nov. 4.

According to BWC’s Special Investigation Department, Fitz’s BWC policy has been lapsed since Sept. 1, 2003. Since then, BWC has picked up the costs on 43 injury claims, including five since 2014.

In other fraud news, a northeast Ohio man must pay BWC nearly $79,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to a fifth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud Tuesday in a Franklin County courtroom.

Ronald J. Dorfeld of Brunswick, Ohio, must pay BWC $78,957 and serve five years of probation in lieu of a nine-month jail sentence for working while collecting BWC disability benefits.

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

Celebrate National Ergonomics Month with some new moves

By Delia Treaster, Ph.D., CPE, BWC Ergonomic Technical Advisor

Have you ever noticed your wrists hurt after hours of working at the computer or your back hurts after standing all day at work? Over time, these daily discomforts can add up, leading to undue physical stress, chronic pain and even injury.

That’s why practicing proper workplace ergonomics is important, and there’s no better time than now. October is National Ergonomics Month – a month the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society has designated to recognize the relationship between humans and their work environment.

Ergonomics involves the practice of refining the design of products and workplaces to optimize them for humans.

Here are some tips, new moves and small changes to improve your workplace ergonomics.

Practice Neutral Posture
Neutral posture is the spine’s natural aligned position. It’s important to keep your spine in neutral position as much as possible to avoid pain and injury. A few helpful tips include:

  • Keeping the top of your computer monitor at or slightly below eye height, so your head is level and not tilted up or down.
  • Keeping your feet flat on the ground when you’re sitting in your chair.
  • Using lumbar support in chairs to prevent low back pain.

Get Up and Move
Prolonged sitting can lead to back and neck pain and even long-term health problems. It’s a good idea to get up and move every 30 minutes during the day. Set a reminder if you have to and get up and move your body for a few minutes every half hour. This could mean taking a brisk walk or just standing and stretching. It will also help boost your energy and improve circulation.

Stretch!
Get into the habit of stretching throughout the day. Take quick breaks to touch your toes, stretch your arms, and reach upwards over your head. You’d be surprised how much better a little stretching can make you feel throughout the day.

For more tips to stay safe and healthy in your work environment, visit BeSafeOhio.com.