Don’t look at the sun and other not-so-obvious tips!

By Sharon Roney, BWC Library Administrator

Monday, Aug. 21, will be the first solar eclipse to pass over the continental United States since 1979.

Ohio will not experience a total eclipse, which is where the shadow of the moon totally blocks the sunlight hitting the earth. We will experience between 85 to 95 percent totality depending on where you are in Ohio – less in the northeast corner of the state and more in the southwest.

What this means for you is that it will be unsafe anywhere in Ohio to look at the eclipse as it is happening without appropriate protection. There will always be a small area of the sun uncovered by the moon. So, what is appropriate protection?

  1. Special eclipse glasses that comply with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard
  2. Welders glasses with at least shade 12 lenses
  3. Telescopes or binoculars with solar filters

If you work outdoors you may be tempted to take a peek at the sun when the eclipse is at its fullest here. Don’t! You will damage your eyes, possibly permanently.

Be sure to inform anyone working on a job site about this danger. If employees want to go outside to view the eclipse, warn them of the dangers. Visit NASA’s website for detailed eclipse information, including eclipse safety.

An eclipse is an interesting experience. The air will become cooler, streetlights may come on and birds may stop singing. Even if you don’t view the sun through your protective lenses, the experience of an eclipse is unique. Stop and look around at the changes it brings to your environment.

If you miss this eclipse, the next one to visit our area will be in April 2024 and a large part of northwestern Ohio will be in its path on that date. If you really get the eclipse bug, you can find worldwide future eclipse events at the Great American Eclipse website.

Continuing the workers’ comp conversation

By Kendra DePaul, BWC Other States Coverage Manager

Oklahoma: home to Will Rogers, Route 66 and CompSource Mutual Insurance Company – host of the 2017 Annual Conference of the American Association of State Compensation Insurance Funds (AASCIF). AASCIF is an association of workers’ compensation state funds from 26 different states, plus 8 workers’ compensation boards in Canada.

The conference was held in Oklahoma City in late June and hundreds of attendees gathered from around the country to discuss hot topics in the workers’ comp industry.

As was mentioned in a previous post, three BWC employees are members of AASCIF’s committees tasked with planning session topic and finding speakers for the annual conference. Michael Rienerth, Ergonomics Technical Advisor is on the Safety and Health Committee. Bill Teets, Communications Director is on the Communications Committee and I am on the Enterprise Risk Management and Underwriting Committee.

Along with planning sessions, committee members were also asked to share their knowledge and experience at track sessions at this year’s conference. Mike presented on violence in the workplace. Bill presented on crisis communication and the strategy of thought leadership. And I presented on state to state coverage conundrums.

Shadya Yazback, our Chief of Enterprise Services, also presented a session on preparing the business for large scale IT changes.

Additional sessions were held on the use of predictive analytics, the state of the economic, emerging technologies, telemedicine, and other topics affecting the industry as a whole.

Two of the main session speakers, Richard A. Clarke, Former National Security Advisor and Frank Abagnale, American Security Advisor (you may know him from the movie Catch Me If You Can), discussed the importance of safeguarding our personal information and the constant threat of cyber security.

We also heard the inspiring story of an Oklahoma City Bombing survivor and the friendship that developed with her rescuer. The story reinforced the amazing capacity of people to heal from wounds (both physical and metal) and the important role of the people who support them through their recovery.

In addition to the speakers, AASCIF holds an annual Communication Awards competition. I am happy to report that BWC won two awards this year. We received 2nd place in the Excellence in the Writing category for the “Trek through Nepal” article. And we won 1st place in the Print Marketing Piece category for a marketing piece we created for Other States Coverage. Working with the communications department, we targeted our marketing to a specific group of employers based on their size and the type of work they do. The marketing piece generated several inquires and we ended up issuing three policies, meaning we received a return on our investment.

As always, the conference was a whirlwind of activities. In addition to educational sessions, we spent time getting to know members of the other states workers’ comp funds, discussing ways to improve our operations and even having a little fun. Since we were in Oklahoma, we couldn’t close the trip without experiencing a rodeo and visiting the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Yee Haw!

Home may be sweet, but is it safe?

By Kendra DePaul, BWC Other States Coverage Manager

“If you want to be safe today, go to work.” That is a quote from Steve Casner’s book titled “Careful: A User’s Guide to Our Injury-Prone Minds.” I recently finished the book and was surprised to learn the major sources of injuries, and the risks we should be aware of in our day-to-day activities.

At BWC, we have keen insight on occupational accidents and how to prevent them. We are fortunate to have our Division of Safety & Hygiene, which works tirelessly to educate employers on the importance of safety and what they can do to improve conditions in workplaces. And it has worked! Recently Ohio has outperformed the national trend in reducing workplace injuries. Employers and employees throughout the state have gotten the message that safety is important.

The book shows that although occupational safety has made great strides, something happens when we leave work; we forget all that we learned about being safe. We get distracted and take risks, which leads to a growing number of non-work-related injuries and deaths. Consider this: in 2014, just fewer than 3 percent of all unintentional injury fatalities happened at work. For comparison, a shocking 50 percent of these fatalities happened in our homes.

The statistics suggest our homes are dangerous places with disaster lurking around every corner. But how can our “home sweet home” be so full of peril? The book goes on to explain that our workplaces have instituted a culture of safety, training us on doing our jobs safely with rules and checklists. At home, we are pretty much on our own, and the data shows we do a pretty bad job at being safe.

To summarize many of the book’s statistics, I would say – BEWARE OF THE DIY PROJECT. I know many of us take on home improvement projects to save a buck or because we may actually enjoy working around the house. But many of the unintentional injuries happen because we really don’t know what we’re doing. How often do we use the right tool for the right job, and use it correctly? The book says when you take note of the reasons people visit the ER, you realize not many of us have learned how to use tools correctly. We also forgot that we are amateurs and do not put a plan in place for the inevitable errors we will make. When is the last time we put on a harness when we cleaned out the gutters or stood on a chair instead of using a ladder? All too often, these small lapses in judgment end in disaster.

The other issue is that we are all in such a darn hurry! Everyone is flying around trying to pack hundreds of activities into a 24-hour day. We speed in our cars, run through yellow lights, are constantly distracted by our cell phone, and always multi-tasking to get things done. The book clearly illustrates that multi-tasking is useless and dangerous because we can only really pay attention to one thing at a time. And if we realized the risks we take in our cars to save a minute or two, we would clearly understand that the amount of time saved is not worth it.

The same goes for walking. We all learned to look both ways when crossing at the crosswalk, but in 2015 a pedestrian was killed by a car every two hours. And 78 percent of those fatalities happened when people were crossing in a non-intersection. We quickly throw out the window everything we learned in Safety Town to save a minute or two of extra walking.

So what is the solution? How do we take what we know prevents workplace injuries and apply it in our everyday lives? A large part of it is being aware that the real risks to our lives are not murders, shark attacks or airplane crashes, but driving down the street and completing our household chores. It is taking a moment or two to think through how to mitigate risk in our lives and practicing it every day. If nothing else, it is putting our phone down when we’re driving and paying attention to the world around us.

Here at BWC, we are developing an educational campaign to generate awareness of safety behaviors that apply both at home and at work, specifically as it relates to the areas of slip, trips, falls, overexertion and driving. We want to educate all Ohioans on avoiding these types of injuries, and ultimately change behaviors to create a culture of safety that follows Ohioans from work to home and from home to work.

Handout – Safe at Work, Safe at Home

We’ll see you at the Ohio State Fair!

Stop by the BWC booth when you’re there

Hello from day one of the 2017 Ohio State Fair!

We’re glad to be part of this traditionally significant event for Ohio residents and one of the largest state fairs in the nation when it comes to attendance.

From our spot in the Bricker Marketplace – booth 705 to be exact – we’ve had a great time meeting fairgoers both young and old to share our message of being safe on and off the clock. Our Division of Safety and Hygiene developed the theme Safe at Work, Safe at Home to highlight common hazards found at the workplace and around the house.

During the next few weeks we’ll bring awareness of these hazards to attendees and give them resources to help make their homes and workplaces safer. We’ll also be promoting our safety services and encouraging workers to partner with us to make Ohio a safer place to live and work.

If you’re hitting the fairgrounds for the rides and games, to see exhibits and to chow down on the famous food offerings, take a minute to stop by and say hello. While you’re there, play a round of Safety Plinko and pick up a copy of our informational handout. It provides basic information on hazards both in and out of the workplace, including:

  • Electrical safety;
  • Biological hazards;
  • Yardwork safety;
  • Chemical safety;
  • Heat stress;
  • Roof safety;
  • Personal protective equipment.

Remember, safety doesn’t clock out. We hope to see you there!

We’re looking for a few great innovators

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Has your organization developed a new piece of equipment, tool or process to reduce risk to your workforce? Have you made changes to an existing method to improve safety and health in your workplace?  If so, you could earn a cash prize for your ingenuity by applying for a BWC Safety Innovation Award.

The application period for our 2018 Safety Innovation Awards is now open. We don’t consider whether the innovation is high-tech, low-tech or no-tech. We’re simply seeking solutions that reduce risk, create cost savings, and that have potential application to other workplaces, industries or operations.

If you are an Ohio employer – or know one – that has taken an innovative step to reduce risk of injury or illness, check out the award criteria and application.

We’re accepting applications until Sept. 30, 2017. Five finalists will receive cash awards, ranging from $1,000 to $6,000 and statewide recognition at the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo in Columbus March 7 to 9, 2018.

Last year’s finalists included innovations such as hydroblasting robots, a scaffold caddy and a pneumatically-operated cylinder clamp. You can check out descriptions and videos of all the finalists’ innovations here.

We hope seeing the past finalists and their ideas will inspire you to apply for the 2018 awards. If you have any questions about the program, email or call 1-800-644-6292.

We look forward to seeing your innovative approaches to eliminating workplace risks and hazards!

Safety council’s busy spring season!

By Michelle Francisco, BWC Safety Council Program Manager

The spring of each year is always a busy season for Ohio’s safety council programs, and this year was no exception.

Ohio’s 82 safety councils collect semi-annual accident statistics from members to recognize them for their accomplishments in safety.

Certificates of recognition are then presented at monthly safety council meetings in March, April and May. The Mid-Ohio Valley Safety Council is pictured above.

BWC presented more than 5,000 certificates statewide to recognize employers for their efforts in preventing occupational injuries. Employers can earn one of four awards:

Group – presented to the company with the lowest incident rate in its type of work in the local community;

100% – presented to any company that works the entire year without an incident resulting in a day or more away from work;

Achievement – presented to any company that reduces its incident rate by at least 25 percent from one year to the next;

Special – presented to any company that works over six months and over 500,000 hours without an incident resulting in a day or more from work.

At the Logan County Area Safety Council meeting, I presented multiple awards to representatives of Honda Transmission Manufacturing.







Members of the Columbiana Area Safety Council pose with their certificates below.

The recognition certificates presented reflect countless hours of effort and dedication to creating and maintaining safe workplaces in Ohio. All Ohio employers enrolled and actively participating in an Ohio safety council are to be commended for their efforts.

Each year on the first Monday in May, Ohio’s safety council sponsors and leaders meet in Central Ohio to hear program updates, network with one another and share best practices in safety council program management.

At this year’s conference, BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison (above) and Division of Safety & Hygiene Superintendent Abe Tarawneh (left) both shared timely updates on the importance of safety in managing workers’ compensation costs and BWC’s continuing emphasis and investment in safety in Ohio.

One of the most popular activities of each year’s conference is the speed networking, which allows participants to meet a variety of representatives from other safety councils to discuss trends, challenges and solutions for creating and maintaining successful safety council programs.

Finally, at each year’s Safety Council Leaders Conference, the four safety councils are recognized as the highest achieving programs in the state with Safety Council of the Year awards.

Administrator Morrison presented the Grand Award for first place to the Summit County Safety Council.

Ross County Safety Council, sponsored by the Chillicothe-Ross Chamber of Commerce, took home the second place award.

In third place was the Mid-Ohio Valley Safety Council, sponsored by the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce. 

Earning the fourth place award was the Ashtabula County Safety Council. (Left)  

Five additional safety councils earned an honorable mention, including:

Stark County Safety Council, Portage County Safety Council, Orrville Area Safety Council, Ottawa County Safety Council and Sandusky County Safety Council.

Responsible for the programming for this year’s conference were committee members Briana Hood, Dessie Rogers, Mike Thompson, and Deb Katzenmeyer.

Get involved in the excitement of the Ohio Safety Council program and enroll today!

Hey, don’t just sit there!

By Mike Lampl, BWC Research Director

Unfortunately, it’s way too easy to spend a significant amount of time sitting throughout the day. Some studies show that office workers typically spend seven or more hours sitting at work.

Add in driving to and from work, sitting at meals, sitting while watching television or reading, and you’ve easily spent 10 or more hours sitting, often without many postural changes during that time.

Prolonged sitting is associated with many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular ailments, diabetes, and cancer.

Here are some things to keep in mind while you are sitting.

  1. Your feet should be fully supported by the floor or a footrest.
  2. Your back should be fully supported with appropriate lumbar support when sitting vertically or leaning back slightly.
  3. Your thighs and hips should be supported by a well-padded seat and generally parallel to the floor.
  4. Your knees should be about the same height as the hips with the feet slightly forward.

Your next posture is your best posture. In other words, remember to make small adjustments to your chair to change your posture frequently throughout the day. And most importantly get up at least every 30 minutes for at least six minutes.

Here are some ways to incorporate standing throughout the day.

  • Stand up while talking on the phone. This has the added benefit of a generally more energetic voice.
  • Conduct a walking meeting inside or outside. Fresh air can be great, but find some shade or stay inside if it is too hot outside.
  • Stand up to clean clutter at your desk/workstation. You may be surprised what you find.
  • Conduct a standing meeting. This may also have the added benefit of keeping the meeting from going too long.
  • Walk to your co-workers’ desk and talk instead of sending an email or instant message. Sometimes face-to-face communication takes care of things quicker.

Introducing more standing and moving into your work regimen and home activities can improve your well-being, and make you a more productive person.

It is OK to sit for a good part of the day, but interrupting sitting with standing or moving every 30 minutes can be a very worthwhile change!

Remember: Sit less. Move more.