Kudos to our Safety Council of the Year Awards winners!

By Michelle Francisco, BWC Safety Council Program Manager

All 83 Ohio safety councils do their part to keep workers and workplaces safe in their communities. We view them all as vital partners in making Ohio a safer and healthier place to work.

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’s Chief Medical and Health Officer John Annarino presented the Grand Award for first place to the Stark County Safety Council, sponsored by the Canton Area Chamber of Commerce.

Mid-Ohio Valley Safety Council, sponsored by the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce, took home the second-place award.

In third place was the Salem Area Safety Council, a division of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce.

Taking home fourth place was the Sandusky County Safety Council, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Sandusky County.

Four additional safety councils earned an honorable mention, including the:

Congratulations to the 2017 Safety Council of the Year award recipients! And thanks to all the Ohio safety councils for partnering with us and our Division of Safety & Hygiene’s mission to maintain and grow a safe, healthy, competitive and productive workforce in Ohio.

Visit bwc.ohio.gov for more information about the Safety Council Program.

We want you to present at OSC19!

By Julie Darby Martin, BWC Safety Congress Manager

Do you have knowledge to share that can keep workplaces safe and healthy? Are you good in front of a crowd?

If so, you could be a potential presenter for our Ohio Safety Congress & Expo 2019 (OSC19), the nation’s largest occupational-focused safety and health event. We’re now accepting presentation proposals for this multi-day event, scheduled for March 6 – 8, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio.

OSC19 will feature more than 200 educational sessions taught by experts from across the nation. Topics include:

  • Safety management;
  • Government and regulation;
  • Health, wellness and rehabilitation;
  • Emergency preparedness and response;
  • Workers’ compensation;
  • Driving and transportation;
  • Training and education;
  • Personal protective equipment;
  • And much more.

We are seeking one-hour educational sessions, panel discussions and live demonstrations as well as three-hour and six-hour workshops. Typical attendees include occupational safety and risk-management directors, workers’ compensation managers, health and wellness leaders, and individuals with an interest in occupational safety and health, wellness, and rehabilitation of injured workers.

We’re accepting applications until July 13. For application guidelines and to register, visit our call for presentations site. Want to get a glimpse of the event? Check out our OSC18 Twitter recap.

BWC firefighter grants – protecting those who protect us

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

For most of us, doing laundry is a dreaded chore we push to the bottom of our to-do list. For fire departments, it’s critical to keeping firefighters safe and healthy.

Last month, BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison and Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Bill Spurgeon, visited the Genoa Township Fire Department in Westerville to watch its staff do laundry (sort of). The two were actually there to see the department washer extractor in action.

The washer extractor is a specialized washing machine that removes carcinogens and toxins from firefighters’ turnout gear after fighting a blaze. The department purchased the washer extractor with help from BWC’s Firefighter Exposure to Environmental Elements Grant (FEEEG) Program. It used $10,075 in grant funds from BWC to replace an aging extractor that was no longer getting the job done.

“Cancer is a leading threat to firefighter health and we take that threat seriously,” says Genoa Township Fire Chief Gary Honeycutt. “We wanted to make sure we are getting this gear as clean as possible.”

While at the station, Administrator Morrison announced BWC would more than double the funding for the grant program. With good reason. As of February 28, the FEEEG Program had awarded 199 grants totaling $2 million with nearly 250 additional grants pending. The program will continue for a second year beginning July 1 with a funding level of $2 million.

The grant program covers more than just washer extractors. Other common purchases include safety gear (e.g., washable gloves, barrier hoods) and exhaust systems. In April, BWC announced 37 fire departments had received nearly $370,000 in grants to purchase equipment.

BWC developed the program because firefighters have a 9 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general public, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

“We wanted to make an investment to make firefighters aware of the importance of taking care of themselves and taking care of their equipment,” says Administrator Morrison.

Other BWC grant programs

Safety Intervention Grant Program
This program provides a 3-to-1 matching grant (up to a maximum of $40,000) to help Ohio employers purchase equipment to substantially reduce or eliminate injuries and illnesses associated with a particular task or operation. It’s not too late to apply for this fiscal year.

Drug-Free Safety Program Grants
These grants assist employers in implementing a drug-free program in their workplace.

Employers Working with Persons with Developmental Disabilities Grant Program
This program assists Ohio employers with ensuring the safety of their staff when carrying out the services they provide to developmentally disabled children and adults. The program is available to eligible Ohio employers who wish to purchase training and/or equipment to substantially reduce or eliminate injuries or illnesses associated with working with developmentally disabled children and adults.

Workplace Wellness Grants
Employers wanting to improve the health and wellness of their workers can benefit from our Workplace Wellness Grant Program. It provides funding to assist employers in establishing training and programs to reduce health risk factors specific to their employees.

Protecting Ohioans on National Ag Day and every day

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Today is the first day of spring! And, fittingly, it’s also National Ag Day in the U.S.

The Agriculture Council of America started National Ag Day 45 years ago to recognize and celebrate the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives.

National Ag Day also encourages all of us to:

  • Understand how food and fiber products are produced;
  • Value the vital role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy;
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.

With 74,500 farms in 2016* and nearly 14 million acres of farmland in Ohio**, agriculture remains one of our state’s strongest industries. And all those farms equal thousands of workers in Ohio’s ag industry, workers that deserve a safe, healthy working environment.

We’re here to do our part by providing on-site consultation services to help farms and agricultural businesses to recognize hazards and take actions to prevent workplace incidents. We also offer training courses at locations throughout the state to make it easy for workers to attend.

Additionally, we have conducted outreach on grain bin safety and developed educational materials about the dangers associated with grain bins. Our library offers many resources on agricultural safety, including a variety of audiovisual materials for borrowing.

During the past few years, we’ve had a booth at the annual Farm Science Review, one of the premier agricultural trade and education shows in the nation.

Being at the event – hosted by OSU Extension – has given us the opportunity to meet face-to-face with farmers and others from Ohio agribusiness.

At BWC, we’re serious about protecting farmers and Ohio’s agricultural workforce. It’s only right that we recognize and protect those who provide life’s essentials to us on National Ag Day and every day.

*USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service
**USDA, 2012 Census of Agriculture

 

Report: Ohio in poor health

‘We need to step up our game,’ chiropractor says

By Tony Gottschlich, BWC Public Information Officer

When it comes to health and wellness, Ohio is in pretty shabby shape, a Cleveland chiropractor told hundreds of health care providers Thursday afternoon at the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium.

Dr. Otto Schmidt, referring to America’s Health Rankings for 2017 by the United Health Foundation, said Ohio ranks 39th in overall health and wellness compared to the rest of the country.

“I saw where Ohio is ranked, and it kind of took me back,” Schmidt told an audience at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. “I find that a little disconcerting as a health care provider. We have to ask ourselves, can we do better?”

Schmidt pointed to several health indicators where Ohio ranks near the bottom: cancer deaths (40th), heart attacks (39th), smoking (45th) and drug deaths per 100,000 people (46th). But Ohio ranks highly in the number of primary care physicians (13th) and number of hospitals (5th).

“We need to step up our game,” Schmidt said.“In workers’ compensation, we need to focus not just on the trauma of the injury but on the wellness of the injured worker.”

That means looking at the total person and recognizing “red flags,” he said.These includes physical and behavioral barriers that complicate an injured worker’s recovery, co-morbidities such as obesity, diabetes and smoking, anxiety, poor attitude and other self-defeating behaviors.

He said getting injured workers back to work takes a team effort from all stakeholders involved,including physicians and other health care providers, injured workers and their support network, and even employers.

Schmidt, who also serves on BWC’s HealthCare Provider QualityAssurance Advisory Committee, noted two BWC programs that incorporate those elements, physician-driven models that stress coordinated care. They include the Enhanced Care Program, a pilot program focused on knee injuries, and the Health and Behavior Assessment and Intervention rule, which offers coaching and counseling sessions to help patients overcome negative thinking, poor coping skills and other behavioral barriers to recovery.

BWC also is addressing worker health and wellness with a free program it launched Feb. 1. The agency’s Better You, Better Ohio! program offers health risk assessments, biometric screenings, personalized health plans, coaching and more to Ohioans who work for companies with 50 or fewer employees in certain high-risk job classifications, such as construction, manufacturing, agricultural, and others.

“We all have to be on the same page,” Schmidt stressed. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t go from 39th to the top 10. We just need to step up our game.”

The health symposium, which runs in conjunction with BWC’s Ohio Safety Congress & Expo, continues through Friday.

BWC spotlights employers’ workplace safety ingenuity

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

At BWC, we’re constantly amazed at the innovative ideas employers have for tackling workplace hazards. To spotlight these employers, their ingenuity and their commitment to workplace safety, we sponsor our annual Safety Innovation Awards.

We created the program to recognize innovations that result in risk reduction, cost savings, and potential application to other workplaces, industries or operations. Innovations can range from a newly–created piece of equipment, tool, process or method to an existing one that an employer has improved or uses in a new or creative way.

After careful consideration of dozens of applications and visits to the sites of eight semifinalists, we are pleased to announce the following employers as the four finalists for the 2018 Safety Innovation Awards.

MPW Industrial Services (Hebron) – M1-RV crawler
A remote-controlled vacuuming system that cleans clarifier tanks; it eliminates employee exposure from hazards of entering and cleaning clarifier tanks

Navistar (Springfield) – Cab destructive weld tear down
An articulating arm that holds a worker’s pneumatic tool during weld tear down of truck cabs; it reduces the potential of falling, bad postures and awkward positions due to high reaction forces on employees during the process

Ramco Electric Motors (Greenville) – Aluminum die-casting automated biscuit return
A conveyor system that delivers aluminum die-casting byproducts (aka “biscuits”) from the casting machine back to the 1,300-degree liquid aluminum bath; the system eliminates the exposures of an individual performing the task of dropping the biscuits back in the crucible

Terracon Consultants Inc. (Cincinnati) – YM3000 pin puller
A redesigned T-handle that is adjustable in height and allows employees to remain standing when pulling 28-inch pins (used for soil density readings) from the ground; it decreases the potential of back or wrist strains from pin pulling, helps reduce fatigue and increases productivity

The four finalists will present their innovations to a three-judge panel and the public at our Ohio Safety Congress & Expo 2018 (OSC18) in Columbus on March 7-9.

The panel of independent judges will select the winners using a number of criteria, including risk reduction, innovation, return on investment, potential for other employers to use the innovation and presentation quality. OSC18 attendees can cast a vote for their favorite innovation to determine the recipient of The People’s Choice award.

We will present the awards and monetary prizes during a ceremony at OSC18. However, the real winners are the employees of these companies. Innovations like the ones listed above help workers stay safe and healthy, increase productivity and morale, and produce long-term cost savings.

Making a better Ohio with health and wellness

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Improved health and wellness leads to a better quality of life in all aspects of our lives, including the workplace.

Living a healthy, balanced life can help prevent injury or help workers recover more quickly if they are hurt on the job. That’s why we’re launching Better You, Better Ohio!™ – a program designed to provide health and wellness resources and services to workers who work for small Ohio employers (50 or fewer workers) in high-risk industries*.

Better You, Better Ohio! takes the stress out of implementing or joining a workplace wellness program thanks to a simple, paperless sign-up process for workers and no costs for the employee or employer. The program offers:

  • Health and wellness awareness, education and training;
  • Health assessments and biometric screenings for better understanding of their health and well-being;
  • A member engagement website that allows them to develop health plans and track their progress to achieve their goals;
  • A state-of-the art mobile app for creating weekly action plans and getting health tips;
  • Digital coaching to help them on their journey to better health.

Why we’re offering Better You, Better Ohio!

Ohio, like much of the nation, is facing major health challenges driven primarily by obesity, aging and the rise in chronic diseases (i.e. diabetes and cardiovascular diseases). As of 2017, Ohio’s health ranking stood at 39th among the 50 states. These health challenges and outcomes are mostly associated with lifestyle behaviors. Individuals can improve these behaviors by using the resources and support services health and wellness programs like Better You, Better Ohio! offer.

Want to know more?

Visit our Better You, Better Ohio! webpage for additional details.

*Agriculture; automotive repair and service; construction; firefighters; health care; manufacturing; police and public safety; public employers; restaurant and food service; transportation and trucking; trash collection; wholesale and retail