Former police officer convicted for workers’ comp fraud

North Canton man owes BWC $89,000

A retired police officer for the city of Canton pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud Thursday after the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) discovered him working two jobs while claiming to be permanently disabled.

James H. Blaine of North Canton must pay BWC $66,481 in restitution and $23,000 in investigative costs after pleading guilty to the fourth-degree felony charge through a bill of information hearing in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas. A judge also ordered Blaine to serve three years of probation, obtain a full-time job, and provide 100 hours of community service.

“If you’re working two jobs, you’re clearly not permanently disabled,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud. “Kudos to our investigators for detecting this fraud and putting a stop to it.”

BWC’s Special Investigations Department discovered Blaine working as a security guard for a private company in late 2017 and operating his own landscaping business while collecting permanent total disability benefits for an injury he suffered while working for a salt company. His fraudulent activity is unrelated to his former job as a police officer in Canton, where he retired in 1997, according to city records.

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

Amy Phillips’ family tragedy saved many lives

Lifeline of Ohio’s registration drive kicked off Oct. 8

By Adam King, Public Information Officer

Injury Management Supervisor Amy Phillips’ brother-in-law, Tim Rolph, was the kind of soul you never forget. At unexpected moments, Amy remembers his distinct laugh and how he was a cherished addition to the family.

The waves of grief are still there, even six years after he died falling from a ladder during a handyman job. But what comforts her without fail is how his sacrifice – and his decision to be an organ donor long before his death – saved and improved so many lives.

“It was what Tim and my sister wanted, to help someone else,” Amy said. “We didn’t have any idea how many people it would help until after.”

Lifeline of Ohio wants to make more people aware of their life-saving potential. The organization kicked off its online donor registration drive, “Don’t’ Wait, Save 8” on Oct. 8. Lifeline of Ohio chose 10/8/20 because every 10 minutes someone is added to the national donor registry, and every donor has the potential to save up to eight lives (and heal 75 more). In Ohio, about 3,000 people are awaiting an organ or tissue donation.

Amy said Tim was the perfect donor. His head trauma left all the organs in his body intact.

Lifeline brought care packages to the hospital and volunteers made blankets for his three sons, all now grown and in their 20s. Every step of the process felt like making decisions with lifelong friends, Amy said, and she’s still astounded at the number of people Tim helped.

A 65-year-old Ohio man with five children and nine grandchildren received Tim’s heart. He had been on the transplant list for a year, and now he’s back to golfing and spending time with his family. Every year he sends emails to Amy’s sister Lori to let her know how he’s doing.

Lori never met any of the recipients, but she wrote each of them before their transplants to tell them about Tim and the man he was.

  • Tim’s liver went to a 58-year-old Midwestern man.
  • His left kidney went to a 70-year-old New England woman.
  • A 43-year-old woman received Tim’s right kidney and pancreas.
  • Tim’s eyes, corneas and skin tissue were used among multiple recipients.

Amy and Tim both grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, and she knew him since the fifth grade. Lori didn’t meet Tim until she took a college visit to Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he was a freshman.

“It was a tragic accident, but it wasn’t a big decision to do this for our family. All of us were registered donors before this happened,” said Amy, adding Tim’s sons registered once they were old enough.

She said people often have misconceptions about eligibility, and she suggests visiting Lifeline of Ohio’s website to clear any confusion.

“I’ve heard a lot of people who said they’ve had cancer or they’re not sure if they would be a good candidate because of the meds they’re taking,” Amy said. “But there is so much they’re able to use. Definitely do your research before you make a decision.”

According to Lifeline of Ohio, there are nearly 7 million Ohioans who are not registered. Here are some quick ways to do it:

  • Register online with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
  • Complete a form and mail it in to the BMV.
  • Just say yes when you renew or receive your driver’s license or state ID card.

Fayette County man owes $141,000 after second fraud conviction

Ohio BWC releases latest fraud convictions

A Washington Courthouse man pleaded guilty to felony workers’ compensation fraud Oct. 5 for working while receiving more than $141,500 in benefits from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).

Jeffrey Janson, 70, pleaded guilty to the fourth-degree felony in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. A judge sentenced him to six months in jail, suspended for three years of probation, and ordered Janson to pay restitution of $141,578 to BWC. Janson was previously convicted of felony workers’ compensation fraud in July 2010.

“Most people learn a lesson after a conviction for workers’ compensation fraud,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud. “Obviously that’s not the case with Mr. Janson, who tempted fate again and was caught a second time by our investigators.”

BWC’s Special Investigations Department discovered Janson working as a semi-truck driver while receiving benefits for a workplace injury. Further review of his bank records proved he was, in fact, working for four additional employers during the same time period.

In other news, BWC secured five fraud-related convictions in September, bringing its 2020 calendar year total to 57. They include a case involving a Logan County man receiving benefits while coaching high school sports teams.

BWC investigators found Dennis Martin, of Bellefontaine, working as varsity baseball coach and as an assistant coach for girls varsity basketball at Botkins High School from Oct. 27, 2017 to May 7, 2018. During this same time, Martin was collecting disability benefits from BWC. A judge credited Martin for time served and terminated the case. Martin has paid restitution of $7,082 to BWC.

On Sept. 23, Jessica Holston, of Dayton, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft in Franklin County Common Pleas Court for collecting more than $3,200 in disability benefits from BWC while working as a home health aide for Wellcare Home Health from March 13, 2017 to May 30, 2017. A judge sentenced Holston to 180 days in jail, suspended for three years of probation, and ordered her to pay $3,242 in restitution to BWC.

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

 

Combined Charitable Campaign CCC saves lives

BWC People – Making a Difference

By Adam King, Public Information Officer

Industrial Safety Consultant Specialist Tammi Nye is fighting for her life — again, making this year’s state of Ohio Combined Charitable Campaign especially poignant.
“The money you donate through CCC can change someone’s life or even save it,” said Tammi, who works out of the Toledo Service Office. “I don’t need CCC’s support for my health issue, but I’m sure countless others do – our loved ones, neighbors and friends, and others who have no support at all.”

In August, Tammi learned the disease that destroyed both of her kidneys is back, this time targeting the transplanted kidney she received five years ago. The disease – Glomerulonephritis syndrome – is extremely rare in women, and in 25 years doctors have made almost no headway in determining why it appears or how to treat it.
“The goal right now is to preserve the organ and not lose it,” said Tammi. “So you kind of feel like you aren’t necessarily back to phase one, but you’ve lost ground. The medications are a struggle with cost and insurance and pharmacy coverage. There’s always some battle to fight somewhere, essentially to survive.”

Tammi said she can’t imagine anyone battling a major health issue without financial stability. That’s one reason she accepted an at-large board position with the Kidney Foundation of Northwest Ohio four years ago. The foundation serves 350 clients and distributes about $80,000 annually for medications, medical transportation, and supplements.

She said becoming a board member was a bit of a fluke. She responded to the organization’s Facebook post on Father’s Day to thank her living donor for giving her another year with her father. The director contacted her, and she’s been on the board since.

“You can feel you’re on your own if you don’t have an advocate or someone to educate you on certain things,” said Tammi, who uses her position to encourage organ donation, promote the foundation’s services, and share the ins and outs of being a kidney recipient.

Tammi said BWC was a lifesaver when she was hired in 2016. The year before that, and just two weeks after her successful kidney transplant, her employer of nearly 15 years told her that her safety manager position was eliminated.
Finding a new job wasn’t easy. Friends had to drive her to job fairs because she wasn’t allowed to drive for four months after surgery. Out of 40 jobs she applied for, BWC and a federal position were the only offers.

“So this must mean this is where I was meant to be,” she said.
Tammi started donating to the Kidney Foundation of Northwest Ohio through CCC in 2017 and has continued every year since. In 2018, the Toledo office highlighted the foundation as a donation destination. Tammi already made her donation, but she offered to match her colleagues’ contributions dollar for dollar, which raised another $600.

Every dollar raised this year is important because the Kidney Foundation had to cancel its largest and most successful fundraising event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tammi hopes people consider the foundation during CCC, in part because BWC has its own small kidney transplant community — three employees have received one and another is a donor.

“Even with the disease reoccurring, I’m on the right side of this process with a new organ, and I’m the healthiest I’ve felt in years,” said Tammi.

The CCC runs through Oct. 9. We’ve raised $169,070, or two-thirds of our goal of $253,000, as of Monday morning. You can choose the Kidney Foundation of Northwest Ohio using code 16040, or choose one of the many other deserving charities and organization in the 2020 Resource Guide. Visit myOhio.gov and click the myCCC button to start your donation or contact your area’s CCC coordinator for donation forms

Tennessee man’s false injury claim costs him $33K

Ohio BWC releases latest fraud convictions

A Tennessee man pleaded guilty to felony workers’ compensation fraud Sept. 9 after collecting more than $33,000 from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for a work injury he falsely claimed occurred in Ohio.

Roger Frankenberg, 60, of Sevierville, Tennessee, pleaded guilty to the fifth-degree felony in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. A judge sentenced him to 11 months in jail, suspended for five years of probation, and ordered Frankenberg to pay BWC $33,210 in restitution.

“As many fraudsters discover, ripping off this agency clearly doesn’t pay, thanks to the good work of our Special Investigations Department,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud. “Not only does Mr. Frankenberg owe us $33,000, he has a felony record.”

 Acting on a tip, BWC discovered Frankenberg had returned to work for his self-owned company, Custom Renovations and Beyond Inc., while receiving BWC disability benefits from December 2015 until December 2016.

 Further investigation determined Frankenberg sustained his injury in Pennsylvania, not Ohio. But because he didn’t have insurance coverage in Pennsylvania, he fabricated a BWC claim so he could have his medical bills covered and collect indemnity payments.

In a separate case on Sept. 9, a Columbus woman pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud after BWC found she had returned to work but didn’t tell the agency so she could continue to receive disability benefits.

Deborah Chenault pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud and was ordered to pay BWC $6,000 in restitution. A three-month jail term was suspended for five years of probation.

In other news, BWC secured three fraud-related convictions in August, bringing its 2020 calendar year total to 51. They include a case involving a Dayton man who stole a near $4,000 check BWC had sent his employer.

 

  • Eric Walker-Mabry of Dayton pleaded guilty Aug. 25 to one count each of theft of property, theft, and forgery, all fifth-degree felonies. A Montgomery County judge ordered Walker-Mabry to pay BWC $3,707 in restitution and sentenced him to five years of probation. BWC issued a full refund to the employer.

 

  • Danny Mitchell of Clarksburg, West Virginia, dba Mitchell Drilling Inc., pleaded no contest Aug. 18 in Tuscarawas County to one minor misdemeanor count of failure to comply and was found guilty after BWC found him operating his business in Ohio without BWC coverage. A judge waived fines and court costs. Mitchell Drilling paid BWC its outstanding premiums and is no longer operating in Ohio.

 

  • Nina Washington of Dayton must pay BWC $4,616 in restitution after pleading guilty Aug. 17 to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. A Franklin County judge also sentenced Washington to five years of probation for collecting disability benefits after she returned to work. Washington paid $500 toward her restitution the morning of her sentencing.

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

 

My family’s trauma changed my world

Thankfully, so did Kids’ Chance of Ohio

By Malerie Mysza

I remember the last truly happy moments I spent with my father. I was 4, and we sat watching cartoons and laughing in the living room of our home in Cleveland. Soon after, he suffered brain injuries and blindness from an on-the-job accident. My father as I knew him no longer existed.

Brian Mysza suffered brain injuries and blindness from an on-the-job accident. His son, Sam, walks beside him.

At age 5, I visited him in his new nursing home on Easter. I asked him to come hunt for eggs with me, but when I offered him my arm to come along, he grabbed and twisted it painfully. I wasn’t allowed near him after that.

Experiencing a trauma like that as a child forever changed me. It made me want to do something to help him and others who were living with similar brain injuries. But when you lose more than half your family income and your mom stops working in order to care for her five children, how do you finance such an ambitious goal?

Searching for scholarships, I discovered Kids’ Chance of Ohio. The nonprofit organization offers scholarships to children of workers who have been permanently disabled or fatally injured on the job. Kids’ Chance awarded me $18,000 over five years. Combined with local scholarships and other public financial assistance, it covered the costs of my undergraduate studies at the University of Cincinnati. When I say Kids’ Chance made my educational dreams possible, it’s no exaggeration.

Brian Mysza, before the accident, with daughter Ashley.

This spring I graduated from UC with a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences. I now hope to complete my master’s in Occupational Therapy at UC, with an anticipated graduation date of 2022.

The joy I experienced on my graduation day was surreal. Nine-year-old me, who asked my mom if she could get my dad exercise bands so he wouldn’t just sit in a chair and rock back and forth all day, was ecstatic. My 10-year-old self, who tried to figure out how to make treadmills brain-injury friendly during a fourth-grade invention discussion, was so proud.

The Myszas celebrate Christmas at Longhorn Steakhouse in 2018. From left, Malerie’s father Brian and mother Laura, sister Alanna, Malerie, sisters Ashley and Adriana, and brother Sam. Brian currently resides in a brain injury rehab facility in Pittsburgh.

And the adult me finds herself one step closer to fulfilling her lifelong goal – opening a rehabilitation facility that specializes in brain injuries, where  practitioners ask, “What matters to you?” instead of “What’s the matter with you?”

My college experience was wonderful inspiration and training for my future.

  • I interned for the Cincinnati nonprofit InReturn, leading a life skills class for brain injury survivors.
  • I volunteered for the rehabilitation department in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
  • I started a nonprofit organization, GIVE at UC, to promote sustainability and encourage volunteerism abroad.
  • And I took two life-changing mission trips to Nicaragua and Thailand, where I worked with children, built schools, was involved with turtle conservation and worked in an elephant hospital.

Malerie Mysza teaches English to children in Chiang Dao, Thailand, during a mission trip from May to June 2019.

Without Kids’ Chance, none of this would have been possible. I always say the most important thing is time and how you make the most of it. Kids’ Chance of Ohio’s altruism and generosity has – so far – given me the most life-affirming time of all.

I am beyond happy. And somewhere deep inside, I hope my father is too.

If you would like to support Kids’ Chance of Ohio or know someone who can benefit from its scholarships, please visit https://kidschanceohio.org.

 

 

Video surveillance exposes Sidney couple’s scheme to defraud BWC

Agency closes 11 cases in June, July

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) closed 11 cases involving workers’ compensation fraud and related charges in June and July, bringing total convictions for BWC to 47 for calendar year 2020.

“Workers’ compensation fraud can happen anywhere in Ohio,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud. “That’s why we have dedicated investigators in every corner of the state to uncover folks — whether they’re employers, injured workers or medical providers — who try to cheat the system.”

Among the June cases is a Sidney, Ohio, couple sentenced on felony charges related to workers’ compensation fraud after a BWC investigation found the husband mowing lawns, using a snow blower, and chopping wood while claiming to be permanently and totally disabled from work.

A Shelby County judge sentenced David Juillerat on June 8 to five years of probation in lieu of jail time and a fine of $1,000 for his conviction on a reduced charge of attempted tampering with records, a fourth-degree felony. Juillerat’s wife, Wendy Juillerat, was sentenced three days earlier on a similar charge, attempted complicity to tampering with records, also a fourth-degree felony. A judge sentenced her to five years of probation in lieu of jail time and to pay court costs.

David Juillerat applied to BWC in 2018 for permanent total disability benefits, claiming a work injury left him unable to drive a car or walk without the assistance of a walker. Acting on a tip that he might be faking his injury, agents with BWC’s Special Investigations Department surveilled David for several weeks in 2019. They filmed him on multiple occasions entering and leaving medical offices with a walker. Away from a medical office, however, agents filmed him walking, shopping, working on his car, chopping wood, and other activities, all without the use of a cane or walker.

As for Wendy Juillerat, agents say she admitted to helping her husband complete his application for permanent total disability and accompanied him to numerous doctor’s appointments in which she would exaggerate his physical limitations in order for the disability to be granted.

Based on BWC’s investigation, David Juillerat’s application for disability benefits was denied in late 2019, saving BWC an estimated $233,668 in benefits over the projected life of the claim.

Other cases in June and July include:

Joseph Ferguson of Toledo

Ferguson pleaded guilty July 24 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, after a BWC investigation revealed he was working as a web development supervisor while receiving benefits from BWC from October 2017 to January 2018. The judge sentenced Ferguson to five years of community control and ordered him to pay restitution of $6,473 to BWC. If he violates the terms of his community control, he will serve 60 days in jail.

Ruth Asamoah of Columbus

On July 13, Asamoah pleaded guilty to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony, for working while receiving BWC disability benefits. BWC investigators found Asamoah worked for eight employers, performing the same or similar jobs she was doing when she was injured. A Franklin County judge ordered her to pay $15,020 in restitution and sentenced her to an 11-month jail sentence, suspended for five years of probation.

Jeffrey Berkley of Taylor, Michigan

BWC investigators found Berkley working as a driver, transporting cars around the Midwest, while receiving BWC benefits from July 2014 to September 2014. On July 7, Berkley pleaded guilty in Franklin County to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. The judge sentenced him to a 12-month suspended jail sentence and ordered him to pay restitution of $2,668 to BWC. Berkley paid the full amount of restitution to the clerk of courts prior to the plea.

Marguerite Cervantes of Perrysburg

Cervantes pleaded guilty July 2 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony, in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. A BWC investigation revealed Cervantes had returned to work as a clinical nurse from April to October 2016 while collecting temporary total disability benefits. The judge sentenced her to an 11-month suspended jail sentence, five years of probation, and ordered her to pay restitution of $16,885.

Angela Berardelli of North Canton

A BWC investigation revealed Berardelli was working at a restaurant while receiving BWC benefits from January 2016 to June 2017. On June 30, Berardelli pleaded guilty to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. She received a sentence of 90 days in jail suspended for 12 months of community control. The judge ordered Berardelli to pay restitution of $10,194 to BWC. She made a payment of $6,500 at the time of plea.

Patricia Black of Cincinnati

Black pleaded guilty June 16 in Franklin County to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. An investigation by BWC found Black working as an office cleaner while receiving BWC benefits from January 2018 to October 2018. Black was ordered to pay $18,407 in restitution and sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for three years of non-reporting community control.

To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 (Option 4, Option 0, Option 1) or visit bwc.ohio.gov.

At BWC, we still have your safety needs covered

By Bernie Silkowski, Superintendent, BWC Division of Safety & Hygiene

Like every other Ohio employer, we have had to adapt to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working from home to slow the spread of the virus, but our Division of Safety & Hygiene still offers plenty of resources to keep Ohio’s workplaces and workers safe. 

Although we are not making on-site visits, we are assisting thousands of employers virtually. We can do this for you, too. We have created a list of resources and FAQs to help Ohio businesses restart safely in conjunction with the Responsible RestartOhio initiative. The following are other options we offer.

Online safety courses and webinars  

With many still working from home, online courses are an excellent option to teach workers about workplace safety. We offer free online safety training courses and weekly webinars on a wide variety of topics.Online course times range from 30 minutes to approximately two hours. To get started, register for courses and webinars online using the BWC Learning Center, or call 1-800-644-6292.

Join a safety council – virtually

Although our Ohio safety council partners are not currently offering in-person meetings, the vast majority will be offering virtual meetings throughout the program year. These virtual meetings are another way to stay up to date on safety practices and to learn new methods for protecting your workers. We’ve also modified some aspects of the program to reduce the burden on employers as they face the challenges of reopening and maintaining economic viability.  Contact your local safety council to learn more.

Virtual safety consultations – Be proactive in making your workplace safe

With such an intense focus on protecting workers from COVID-19, it’s easy to miss other hazards in your workplace that can cause harm. BWC’s specialists can provide virtual consultative services in the areas of industrial safety, construction safety, ergonomics, and industrial hygiene. Every employer is eligible to use these services. We can talk on the phone or do a video chat depending on your preferences. You can also send us pictures, videos, or a written safety program to review and make recommendations. You can request a consultation through our website or by calling 1-800-644-6292.

Public employers can also take advantage of the specialized virtual consulting services of the Public Employment Risk Reduction Program (PERRP). In fact, right now PERRP is scheduling virtual safety training about work zones, tree operations, confined spaces, and trenching and excavation. If you have questions or need assistance, please request a consultation through our website, send an email to Perrprequest@ohio.gov, or call 1-800-671-6858.

For small- to medium-sized, private employers in high-hazard industries, the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program is also available to help with specialized virtual consulting. You can request a consultation through our website or call 1-800-282-1425.

Library reference services and streaming safety videos

Our library staff is working remotely and has access to materials to help you with your safety questions. The library’s streaming video services are available 24 hours a day/seven days a week for remote viewing from any computer. Our selection of online streaming videos covers a range of popular safety and human resource topics. Email us at library@bwc.state.oh.us for information about any of these services.

Better You, Better Ohio!® – workplace health and wellness program

Better You, Better Ohio! is a free health and wellness program for eligible public and private workers. It provides online education and resources you and your employees can access online or on your phone. The program offers information on healthy eating, exercise, and stress management, as well as tips for handling the changes we are all facing. Also, eligible workers can complete an online health assessment, request a biometric screening kit to complete at home, and receive a $75 incentive in the mail! Email BWCBetterYouBetterOhio@bwc.state.oh.us with questions.

Thank you for being our partners in helping keep Ohio’s workers safe. For more information about Ohio’s response to COVID-19, please visit The Ohio Department of Health’s COVID-19 website or contact them via phone at 1-833-4ASKODH.

For BWC-specific COVID-19 questions, visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions or email BWCCOVID19@bwc.state.oh.us.

We’re here and ready to help, so reach out to us today!

Dayton claims representative is BWC’s Fraud Finder of the Year

By Jeff Baker, Program Administrator, BWC Special Investigations Department

A claims service specialist (CSS) in our Dayton Service Office is our 2019 Fraud Finder of the Year award winner.

We can’t name the employee because we don’t publicly identify our fraud tipsters, but this longtime BWC veteran tipped us off about a claimant collecting disability benefits after going to prison for shooting a SWAT officer.

“Thanks to this employee’s actions, we were able to save the BWC system more than $2 million,” said Jim Wernecke, director of our Special Investigations Department (SID), referring to the estimated cost over the life of the claim.

With characteristic humility, the CSS, who referred five other allegations to SID during fiscal year 2019, said, “I was just doing my job.”

About a fourth of the nearly 3,000 fraud allegations we received in fiscal year 2019 came from BWC personnel around the state. These included claims representatives, employer representatives, and others who suspected illicit behavior on the part of injured workers, employers, health-care providers or others connected to Ohio’s workers’ compensation system. Our investigations led to an estimated $5.9 million in savings to the BWC system.

“We encourage all BWC employees and the general public to contact us immediately if they suspect fraudulent behavior in our system, even the slightest hint of it,” said Director Wernecke. “We will conduct a thorough investigation, and the sooner we get started, the better.”

To report suspected cases of workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 (then select option 0, option 4, option 1) or visit www.bwc.ohio.gov.

BWC safety grants protect worker health, save employers time, money

NIOSH-BWC study published in industry journal

By Steve Naber, Ph.D., BWC Business Intelligence and Analytics Manager

For more than 10 years, our Division of Safety & Hygiene has enjoyed the benefits of being in a cooperative research program with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Through the program, we share claims with personal information removed and employer data with NIOSH and assist its researchers in various studies that use our data. Working together, we recently completed a study to evaluate the effectiveness of construction equipment Ohio employers purchased using our Safety Intervention Grant program from 2003 to 2016.

The findings

Though the study did not conduct a complete cost-benefit analysis, the data suggest our safety grants help improve worker safety and may also lead to cost savings for Ohio construction industry employers. In terms of cost savings, the study found:

  • An average productivity savings of $24,462 per grant.
  • The average savings due to less rework was $2,931 per grant.
  • The average savings due to reduced absenteeism was $859 per grant.

It also found equipment for cable pulling in electrical trades to be among the most effective. 

Other equipment scoring highly included concrete sawing equipment, skid steering attachments for concrete breaking, and boom lifts. The study’s results appear in the April edition of the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management. You can read the article here.

The objective

The objective of the study was to apply a systematic method to identify the types of construction equipment that were more effective in improving the safety and health of workers. The study’s authors focused on the construction industry because “it is a high-risk industry, and construction employers need more information about effective solutions (interventions) to address safety and health.”

The methodology

The researchers evaluated 153 construction industry safety grants, totaling $6.5 million in equipment costs. The study placed the grants into 24 groups based on the function of the equipment purchased. The analysis emphasized equipment that was purchased in multiple grants and that had high scores for both risk reduction for work-related musculoskeletal disorders and quality of information contained in the safety grant reports.

We provided the data for the study, which included pre-grant and post-grant claims information and employer survey results regarding risk-factor abatement, equipment effectiveness, employee acceptance, and the effects on productivity. The research team developed an evaluation system that assigned scores to each grant based on the quality of the information employers provided addressing these factors. The team then tallied the component scores in these categories to get a total score for each grant that reflected the quality of the information and the equipment effectiveness. BWC researchers also contributed by reviewing and assisting in the development of the scoring system and in preparing the study’s manuscript.

Conclusion

This study supports our belief that employers will see long-term cost savings when they invest in workplace safety. More importantly, investing in safety protects the health and well-being of workers throughout our state. That’s why we’ve been offering these grants to Ohio employers for more than 15 years.  

NIOSH researchers contributing to the study and paper include Brian Lowe, James Albers, Marie Hayden, and Steve Wurzelbacher; BWC’s contributors are Mike Lampl and Steve Naber.