Ohio employers receive $341,000 in workplace safety grants

Fourteen Ohio employers will share $341,020 in grants from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) to purchase equipment designed to substantially reduce or eliminate workplace injuries and illnesses.

BWC approved the Safety Intervention Grants in December. The recipient employers operate in eleven counties around the state, including:

  • Cuyahoga County
  • Lake County
  • Marion County
  • Mercer County
  • Miami County
  • Ottawa County
  • Sandusky County
  • Scioto County
  • Stark County
  • Van Wert County
  • Warren County

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

The Safety Intervention Grant program matches an employer’s investment 3-to-1 up to a maximum of $40,000. Quarterly data reports and follow-up case studies measure 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 our YouTube channel.

Cleaning company owner soils record with fraud conviction

Northeast Ohio woman to serve house arrest, pay $14K restitution

The owner of a Hudson, Ohio, cleaning business must serve 30 days under house arrest and pay $14,000 in restitution to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation after pleading guilty to workers’ compensation fraud Jan. 9.

Amanda Joy Klapp, owner of Amanda Joy’s Cleaning Company, also must bring her BWC coverage into compliance within 30 days and pay $750 in fines.

“Our agents found Ms. Klapp trying to cheat BWC in a number of ways,” said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC’s special investigations department. “She had employees when she opened her business in 2013, but she didn’t secure BWC coverage until 2015. She then intentionally under-reported her payroll to avoid paying a higher premium. And when she stopped paying her premiums and her policy lapsed, she attempted to take out a new policy using her husband’s name to avoid paying the balance owed on her original policy.”

Appearing in Stow Municipal Court in Summit County, Klapp pleaded guilty to three first-degree misdemeanor counts of workers’ compensation fraud and was fined $500 on each count. The judge suspended half of the fines and 150 days of a 180-day jail sentence, ordering the remaining 30 days to be served under house arrest.

In other news, the bureau secured three fraud-related convictions in December, bringing the total number of convictions in calendar year 2017 to 130.

Eric Payne of Hamilton, Ohio, pleaded guilty Dec. 13, in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud after BWC agents found him working as a home and building inspector while collecting $8,126 in temporary total disability between February and August 2015. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 23.

David Proffitt of Plain City, Ohio, pleaded guilty Dec. 12 to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud after investigators found him working as a golf coach while collecting BWC benefits. A Franklin County judge declined to sentence Proffitt or order restitution.

Beth Amirault of Dublin, Ohio, dba A Place to Grow, pleaded guilty Dec. 5 to a second-degree misdemeanor count of failure to comply after investigators found she had been operating her child care center without work comp coverage since 2005. Amirault initially cooperated with BWC to bring her policy back into compliance, then failed to follow through on her reinstatement plan. A Franklin County judge sentenced her to 90 days in jail (suspended), two years of probation and ordered her to pay fines and court costs.

To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, visit bwc.ohio.gov or call 1-800-644-6292 and select option “0”, then option “4”.

Engaging millennials in the workplace through integrated safety and process improvement

By Diana J. Schwerha, PhD, guest blogger and Associate Professor, Industrial and Systems Engineering, Russ College of Engineering and Technology at Ohio University

As the New Year begins it may be time to re-evaluate your safety training program and performance. You may examine last year’s performance metrics and develop a strategy to improve upon past accomplishments or challenges. While many companies use standard lagging indicators (e.g., injury rate) many more are now looking to leading indicators that may not only prevent injuries but also contribute to the economic strength of the company (e.g., number of employee suggestions that were acted upon and contributed to process improvement). One way to increase the number of leading indicators is to establish processes that engage the workforce and produce a consistent flow of ideas.

Engaging the workforce, however, is not always the easiest task.  When considering improvement one question that I have frequently been asked is how to engage an age-diverse workforce.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2024 millennials (age 16-34) will make up 34% of the workforce while the 55+ age group will increase to nearly 22% of the workforce.1 We have been bombarded in the press about this bi-furcation about the differences between baby boomers and millennials. The differences between these age cohorts are often emphasized when considering ways to retain your employees. Although differences exist between these groups, what I would like to suggest in this blog is that there are a lot of similarities between the groups. If you can look to the similarities and engage based on what groups have in common, you are one step closer to having a safe, engaged, and sustainable workforce.

So, what are those similarities? The main one that I see is that no matter what their age, employees want to contribute to the success of the company, be engaged in the process and understand how often conflicting demands can be resolved in a successful way. One method to getting employees involved is by using a recently developed training program on integrating safety with process improvement. This program was developed by researchers at Ohio University with funding from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. It can be found at https://www.ohio.edu/engineering/safety-training/.

The purpose of this training is to engage a group of individuals who will look at safety challenges from three perspectives: safety, quality and productivity. The program has four basic components: identification, prioritization, improvement, and documentation. These processes can be completed through the four tools: Process Map, Prioritization, Modular Value Stream Safety Mapping, and Process training. The online training program provides for the practitioner videos, instructions, templates and examples of each of these tools.

The overall goal of the program is to develop solutions to safety challenges through the contribution of cross-functional teams. The teams should include employees from different areas as well as employees with different levels of expertise. By ensuring this diversity, you will automatically include both newer hires and more experienced personnel. This is essential to ensure that you obtain the engagement from your millennials as well as baby boomers.  Your goal is to create committee where you can investigate the challenge from multiple perspectives.

For example, several companies with whom I’ve worked have chosen to implement this program through their safety committee. They chose their employees so that different departments as well as different levels of experience are represented. Then, the committee should also have representatives from quality and productivity. Ideally, these individuals should have the authority to approve interventions at the site so that suggestions can be assured to be funded.

The first step in the program is to map the site and determine areas that are in need of improvement. These could be areas where you’ve had an injury or areas that are in a constant flux and have a lot of variability to them in terms of quality, safety or productivity. Once the areas are identified, then the group prioritizes them based on a red/yellow/green system that incorporates safety, productivity, and quality risks. Following that improvements to the individual areas are explored, processes worked out, analyses completed and improvements are implemented. The modular value stream safety mapping allows you to rank the before and after and also document the sustainability and communication plan. Finally, the program has a training document to allow you to record the new processes for future employees.

The training is simple and adaptable. It can be used as a stand-alone system or within your existing proprietary system or a lean or six sigma approach. My experience has shown that because the system greatly improves communication, barriers that may have existed can be broken down. Breaking down barriers, whether those are between different age groups or just between different constituencies within the company, will increase trust, create better solutions and foster sustainable improvements. It may not happen overnight, but through a thoughtful and systematic process where improvements are realized, companies can improve their safety performance and engage their age-diverse workforce.

1  Source: U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Labor force projections to 2024

Create your safety game plan at OSC18!

osctweets2Does your organization have a game plan for safety in your workplace? The Ohio Safety Congress & Expo (OSC18) can help you develop a winning formula for keeping your workers safe and healthy on the job.

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

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

OSC18 – the largest regional safety and health conference in the U.S. – is happening March 7-9 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 sit on the sideline!

Let OSC18 help your organization strengthen its teamwork and commitment to safety in the workplace. Because safety is truly a team effort.

Register for OSC18 today!

 

 

BWC to push wellness, workplace safety in 2018

By Sarah D. Morrison, BWC Administrator/CEO

The new year is here, and many of us are thinking about resolutions that include working out, eating healthier and getting in shape.

We have our own resolutions at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC): we resolve to help more employees get home safe and sound every day. That is why we’ll continue our focus on wellness and workplace safety in 2018.

Ohio employers and workers both benefit when injuries don’t occur. A stable, productive workforce saves employers money they can invest in their companies. Likewise, workplace injuries can place a physical and financial strain on workers and their families.

This is the impetus for our new wellness initiative coming in early 2018. An overwhelming amount of research shows us that a healthy lifestyle leads to wellness in virtually every facet of our lives, including the workplace. BWC’s new wellness program will offer Ohio workers in small businesses a variety of services. Details are being finalized, but the program will offer services such as health risk assessments, biometric screenings, personalized health plans and coaching, chronic disease management and more. This is geared to help workers live a healthy, balanced life – factors that can prevent injury, or recover more quickly if they are hurt on the job.

Safety will continue to take center stage in 2018. Safe workplaces have always been our goal at BWC. To increase the awareness of the importance of safety, we will introduce a public health and safety campaign focused on preventing slips, trips and falls, overexertions and motor vehicle accidents (all of which make up about 60 percent of our injured worker claims each year).

The holiday season is also a time to reflect, and I am pleased to highlight our significant accomplishments in 2017. These include:

  • Another $1 billion rebate that increased workers’ comp savings for Ohio employers to $6.3 billion since 2011.
  • A new grant program that helps fire departments purchase safety gear and equipment designed to protect firefighters from carcinogens and other harmful elements they encounter on the job.
  • More base rate reductions for Ohio employers. Average private rates are down 28.2%. Average public rates are down 29.6%.
  • Continuation of our enhanced care program, which gives medical providers greater latitude in treating knee injuries, including allowing them to take a holistic approach to care by treating comorbidities that can delay recovery.
  • Improvements to our nationally recognized pharmacy department. Through sensible controls and better tracking, we reduced the number of opioid-dependent injured workers by 54 percent to 3,714 by the end 2017.

Finally, among our most exciting news in 2017: a decline in workplace injury rates for the fourth consecutive year. Ohio’s rate for calendar year 2016 was 2.7 injuries per 100 workers, compared to the national average of 3.2. That half percent means Ohio has 20,369 more people returning home safe to their loved ones than if we were just performing at the national average.

Building a culture of safety across the state is at the heart of our work at BWC. Our efforts are paying off, and we are more committed than ever to the safety, health and economic well-being of our state and its citizens.

Top 5 posts of 2017

It’s been a busy year on the Ohio BWC blog!

In 119 posts, we covered topics ranging from safety during a solar eclipse to preparing for an active aggressor situation. In between were fraud updates and safety tips from our experts.

Thanks to all of our readers, and those who shared our links and left comments!

Here are the posts you read the most in 2017:

  1. Don’t look at the sun and other not-so-obvious tips!
  2. Foul! Bowling coach crosses the line, commits work comp fraud
  3. Don’t be shocked or surprised – use lockout/tagout
  4. Working hard in the yard? Remember these safety tips
  5. Are you prepared for an active aggressor incident?

We’re looking forward to another busy year of blogging in 2018.  For now, we wish you all a very Happy New Year!