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.

New online poster archive takes visitors on a safe trip through time

By Amelia Klein, BWC Librarian

Long before there was the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Ohio had the Division of Safety & Hygiene.

Nearly 100 years ago, the Ohio General Assembly gave the Industrial Commission of Ohio the green light to create an agency (commonly known as the Division of Safety & Hygiene) for the prevention of workplace accidents and diseases.

To promote safety awareness and education, the division began designing bulletin board posters for employers to display in factories and workplaces throughout Ohio. Many of these posters ended up in the archives of the BWC Library.

Recently, the BWC Library teamed up with Ohio Memory – the statewide digital library program run by the Ohio History Connection and State Library of Ohio – to create an online archive of the posters.

Getting hundreds of posters online

We worked closely with Ohio Memory to digitize nearly 500 posters from the 1920s through the early 2000s. The digital archive provides an enlightening and often entertaining glimpse at the workplace safety and health concerns of different eras.

In the 1940s, working safely meant keeping the factories running efficiently to supply and support the soldiers of World War II. An untreated cut which leads to infection and eventually death was a regular theme until the late 1970s.

It’s interesting to see how many safety hazards that affected workers of the past are still all too common today. Falls from heights continue to be one of OSHA’s most frequently cited standards, and slips, trips and falls claims remain the most common for any industry. It’s no surprise then that many posters highlight the dangers of falls.

Trends and styles revealed

The archive also shows the evolving design trends through the decades as well as the artists’ individual styles. In the 1950s, the bright red and yellow of the new Day-Glo printing caught the eye. The 1970s brought trippy, Monty Python-esque illustrations, such as a poster where a giant hand replaces a person’s head and a glove floats in the sky to promote hand protection. Even the division’s mining engineer, Jay W. Greaves, got in on the action, drawing many cartoons for the agency throughout his career, his signature mouse offering cheeky comments on the edges of a scene.

Over time, the division developed more specialized programs targeting unique hazards in specific industries, including:

Some posters have traveled throughout the U.S. and even around the globe. We have tracked down posters for the collection from Pennsylvania and California.

An early article in the division’s bulletin, The Ohio Monitor, claims it sent them as far away as India. It’s possible many posters may still be up in Ohio businesses today since many of the themes and graphics still resonate with workers.

As we digitize and upload more of our archive to Ohio Memory, BWC’s history will be easily accessible for the public to explore. So be sure to look for future collections from the BWC Library on Ohio Memory!

Southwest Ohio man guilty of workers’ comp fraud

Lebanon man owes BWC more than $45,000 in restitution

A Lebanon man owes the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) more than $45,000 after pleading guilty April 22 to workers’ compensation fraud.

Michael Dwayne Myers, 49, pleaded guilty to the fifth-degree felony in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas after BWC found him working for a Lebanon fire and water damage restoration company while collecting disability benefits in 2016 and 2017.

“The State Insurance Fund is for workers who are truly injured and need benefits to survive, not for people looking to unlawfully double dip and pad their income,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud.

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.

In other news:

A Cincinnati man was ordered to pay BWC $13,432 in restitution after pleading guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud Monday.

A Franklin County judge ordered Clinton Walker to pay $9,831 in restitution for benefits he received while working for several employers from 2012 to 2015. Walker also must pay $3,600 in investigative costs. He provided a cashier’s check to BWC at his hearing for full restitution.

A Mahoning County man pleaded guilty April 23 to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud after BWC investigators found him working as a maintenance technician while collecting BWC benefits.

A county judge sentenced Ernest Thomas to six months of community control (probation) and ordered him 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.

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

Looking out for aging workers

May is Older Americans Month

By Stephanie McCloud, Administrator/CEO, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

Americans are living longer, and they’re working longer too. Today, one in every five American workers is over 65, and in 2020, one in four American workers will be over 55, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), we have 71 workers over the age of 65; 18 are over the age of 70. We truly appreciate our older workers and the years of service to our agency and the people of Ohio.

We recognize the value they bring to our agency, and the contributions of mature workers in general to the work force. They bring skills and knowledge to the workplace honed by decades of service and experience. They are dependable and productive. They have a strong work ethic. They mentor our younger workers.

At BWC, our core mission is to protect Ohio’s workers and employers through the prevention, care and management of workplace injuries and illnesses. Workplace safety is a critical component of that mission, especially when it comes to our more seasoned workers. They are more susceptible to injury because of age-related challenges – decreases in mobility and sensory functions, reduced strength and balance, and longer reaction times.

When a 25-year-old worker falls on the job, for instance, she might bruise a knee. For a 70-year-old worker, it’s potentially a broken hip and a long recovery.

Older workers helped build our great state, and we want to keep them active, healthy and engaged in their work. We’re a charter partner in the STEADY U Ohio initiative to curb the epidemic of slips, trips and falls among older Ohioans. (One in three older adults will fall this year, according to the Ohio Department of Health.) These are the leading causes of worker injury, and they most often strike workers 45 and older (like me!).

These incidents are costly. The total estimated cost of falls among Ohioans aged 65 and older (medical costs, work loss) is nearly $2 billion annually in Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Most are preventable. At Steady U, workers and employers can find tips, tools and resources designed to reduce these incidents.

We urge all Ohioans to join us in creating a culture of safety across this state. Safe workplaces mean fewer, if any, injuries on the job, as well as steady production and lower costs for employers. And they mean more workers can go home healthy each day after their shift.

We are here to help. We have experts, grant dollars and other resources to make Ohio a safer place. To learn more, contact us at 1-800-644-6292 or visit our Division of Safety & Hygiene web page.