Have you ever wondered how BWC calculates your workers’ compensation insurance premium rate?

By Christopher S. Carlson, FCAS, MAAA, BWC Chief Actuarial Officer

It all comes down to an equation:

     Modified premium rate
+   Administrative cost rate
+   Disabled Workers’ Relief Funds assessments
=   Blended insurance rate per $100 of payroll

With the definitions in the sidebar as reference, let’s break down the formula:

All employers have a base rate determined by their manual classifications.

Larger businesses also have an experience modifier, a projection of expected future claims costs (based on past claims experience).

Multiplying the base rate and experience modifier (if you have one) results in the modified premium rate (MPR).

BWC factors in an administrative cost rate, used to run BWC and the Industrial Commission, and then adds assessments for two Disabled Workers’ Relief Funds that provide cost of living increases for disabled workers.

The result is your blended premium rate, the amount you pay per $100 of payroll

So there you have it, a quick lesson in BWC Premium Rate Development 101. This YouTube video provides even more detail on how BWC calculates your Ohio workers’ compensation premiums.

Remember, the best way to keep premiums low is to provide a safe workplace. Safer workplaces reduce accidents, reduce costs, and in the end, reduce your premiums.

Gaming technology helping researchers study injuries at nursing facilities

BWC grants are funding exciting research into a variety occupational health and safety issues at Ohio colleges and universities.

Cleveland State University was one of the first recipients of the Ohio Occupational Safety and Health Research Program back in 2015. Since then, researchers have been studying how to reduce injuries in nursing homes.

Check out this story from News Channel 5 in Cleveland about how the university is using gaming technology in its research.

‘Blind’ man who drives, directs traffic, guilty of theft from workers’ comp agency

Parking lot owner one of two Toledo cases in court this week

A Toledo-area man who claimed he was too visually impaired to work must pay the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation nearly $15,000 in restitution after investigators found him driving, parking cars and directing traffic at a parking facility he owns in downtown Toledo.

Tim Tokles, 60, of Holland, Ohio, must pay BWC $14,689 and serve five years probation after pleading guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor theft count Thursday in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

“Mr. Tokles claimed he was permanently disabled from working due to an eye injury he suffered on the job, but our surveillance shows him working and performing multiple tasks that were inconsistent with his injury claim,” said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC’s special investigation department.

BWC’s investigation discovered Tokles operating his downtown lot outside his medical restrictions from June 19, 2012, until Aug. 31, 2013, while receiving permanent total disability benefits from BWC. When first approached by investigators, Tokles told them he couldn’t see, but they had just witnessed him driving his vehicle.

According to court records, Tokles’ disability claim includes restricted ability to read, use a computer and drive because of glare, depth perception, light sensitivity and discomfort in right eye. He also claims that several environmental conditions or elements irritate his eye, including air conditioning, cleaning materials, dust, air pollutants and wind.

In another fraud case out of Toledo this week, a maintenance man must pay BWC $18,501 in restitution and serve five years probation after investigators found him working at various apartment complexes in the Toledo area while collecting BWC benefits.

Alfred Bowlson, 44, pleaded guilty to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud on Wednesday in Franklin County. A judge warned that if Bowlson violates the terms of his probation, he will serve 11 months in prison.

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

Are you prepared for the worst-case scenario?

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

The Boy Scout motto is short and simple: Be Prepared.

Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of scouting, wanted “each Scout to be ready in mind and body and to meet with a strong heart whatever challenges await him.” Following a similar philosophy, National Preparedness Month (NPM) reminds the public to be prepared for emergency situations at home, work, school and places of worship.

This year’s National Preparedness Month (NPM) – which kicks off Sept. 1 – focuses on planning with an overarching theme of Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can. We all can and should take action to prepare for emergencies. The recent news out of Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey is a heartbreaking and harsh reminder for us all.

As always, Ready.gov has a host of resources for use throughout the month with each week highlighting a different theme.  

Week 1:  Sept. 1-9 Make a Plan for Yourself, Family and Friends
Week 2:  Sept. 10-16 Plan to Help Your Neighbor and Community
Week 3:  Sept. 17-23 Practice and Build Out Your Plans
Week 4:  Sept. 24-30 Get Involved! Be a Part of Something Larger

The best way to be prepared is to make a plan for you, your family and friends. Ready.gov suggests asking the following questions as a starting point.

  • How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  • What is my shelter plan?
  • What is my evacuation route?
  • What is my family/household communication plan?

From here you can craft a plan specific to your household, your family and your friends. For more details, visit the Ready.gov Make a Plan page.

It’s not just people who need to prepare for emergencies. It’s critical for businesses too. Ready.gov also has plenty of resources related to emergency preparedness for businesses.

Here at BWC, we also offer courses on preparedness for Ohio employers. To register for a course near you, log in to the BWC Learning Center and search under Emergency Preparedness. Finally, our Division of Safety & Hygiene Library has resources, including books, periodicals and videos, with more information about emergency preparedness planning.

Remember, when it comes to hazards (whether natural or human-caused) it’s always best to be prepared.

Two Ohio restaurant owners convicted for cheating workers’ comp system

Each owes BWC more than $9,400

The owner of a central Ohio restaurant must reimburse the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) $9,406 after his former employer accused him of cheating the agency.

Mark J. Cothern, of Danville, Ohio, in Knox County, also must serve three years probation after pleading guilty Aug. 11 to one fifth-degree felony count of attempted workers’ compensation fraud in the Knox County Court of Common Pleas. Investigators found Cothern, who was injured while working for a Mount Vernon employer in 2014, was receiving BWC benefits while working at his restaurant in Danville, the Score-board Drive-in.

“We conducted multiple undercover and surveillance operations, which supported the allegation we received,” said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC’s special investigations department.

In other news, the owner of a northeast Ohio restaurant pleaded guilty Aug. 18 to a second-degree misdemeanor count of failure to comply after he refused to cooperate with BWC to reinstate his workers’ comp coverage.

Elton Rista must pay BWC for back premiums totaling $9,478 for operating his Avon Lake restaurant without workers’ compensation coverage from June 30, 2011 through Aug. 7, 2015. He was also sentenced to two years of community control.

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

Plinko, prizes and promotion highlight BWC’s return to the fair

By the BWC Occupational Safety and Hygiene Fellows

A few weeks back, we were fortunate to be among the exhibitors at the Ohio State Fair. During our 12 days on-site, we estimate we interacted with at least 5,000 fairgoers at our booth.

People of all ages were curious and excited to stop by our booth to try their hand at Safety Plinko. Children were eager to play and delighted to take home prizes – outlet guards, cooling towels, safety glasses and earplugs – to help keep them safe from hazards at home. In less than two weeks, our representatives handed out hundreds of informational pamphlets and thousands of safety giveaways to fairgoers.

The plink, plink, plink of chips dropping down the board drew a crowd and brought smiles to entire families. Kids were most attracted to the colorful safety glasses they could wear, just like their parents. To earn prizes, we asked Plinko players questions to help promote awareness and educate them (in a fun way) on how to be Safe at Work and Safe at Home.

Participants appreciated the insight on common safety practices for home and the workplace, and our employees were excited to provide potentially life-saving information to everyone from grandparents on down to school-age children. The fair was also a chance for us to talk about our Division of Safety & Hygiene’s programs and services available to Ohio employers at no extra cost.

The Ohio State Fair was an outstanding venue for us to reach the public and educate Ohioans on ways to protect themselves on and off the clock. Thanks to all who stopped by our booth!

Handout – Safe at Work, Safe at Home


BWC fraud investigators secure 7 convictions in July

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation secured seven convictions in July of employers and injured workers who attempted to cheat the agency.

The cases raise the year’s total convictions for BWC’s special investigations department (SID) to 90.

“Workers’ compensation fraud raises the cost of the system for everyone involved,” said SID Director Jim Wernecke. “I hope these latest convictions serve as a reminder to those attempting to steal from BWC: We have investigators all over the state. We will find you, bring you to justice and make you repay the funds you illicitly acquired.”

Those convicted last month include:

Robert Leonard of Niles, Ohio, and McMenamy’s LLC
A Trumbull County judge on July 31 found Leonard guilty of one misdemeanor count of attempted workers’ compensation fraud and his restaurant guilty of a fourth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud. Leonard failed to comply with repeated attempts by BWC to reinstate lapsed coverage for his business, McMenamy’s LLC. Leonard paid full restitution to BWC in the amount of $13,224.

Donna Roethlisberger of Lima, Ohio
Roethlisberger, doing business as Complete Cleaning of NWO, pleaded guilty July 20 to two counts of tampering with records, both third-degree felonies, after investigators found she obtained BWC certificates of coverage under her employees’ names without their knowledge. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 30 in the Putnam County Court of Common Pleas.

Joseph Stewart of Titusville, Florida
Stewart pleaded guilty July 20 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, after investigators found him assembling countertops, kitchen cabinets and a display case for a market in Toledo while collecting temporary total disability benefits. A judge ordered Stewart to serve five days in jail, five years of community control and to pay restitution of $4,160 to BWC.

James Teynor of Bucyrus, Ohio
Teynor pleaded guilty July 13 to workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, after investigators found he had returned to work as a driver while collecting temporary total disability benefits. He was sentenced to one day jail (credited) and ordered to pay BWC restitution in the amount of $2,690.

Tyrone Bonner of Columbus, Ohio
Bonner, doing business as Apex Alliance Group, pleaded guilty July 10 in Franklin County to failure to comply, a second-degree misdemeanor. Investigators found Bonner had lapsed coverage and misrepresented his payroll reports when he applied to have his BWC coverage reinstated. Bonner was sentenced to pay full restitution to BWC in the amount of $9,527.

Michael R. Strickland of Woodville, Ohio
Strickland pleaded guilty July 10 in Franklin County to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, after investigators found him delivering mail for a trucking company while collecting BWC benefits. Investigators say Strickland did not report his work activity until three months after he was off disability and had returned to work. He received no sentence.

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