In challenging times, BWC delivers

Up to $1.6 billion for employers among several measures aimed at weakening COVID-19’s impact

#InThisTogetherOhio

By Stephanie McCloud, BWC Administrator/CEO

One of our core values at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is Relentless Excellence — we are unyielding in our delivery of outstanding service to our customers.

Not just sometimes or in ordinary times, but all the time. This includes the extraordinary times we find ourselves in today given the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic presents to our economy and virtually every facet of our daily lives.

I hope our customers — Ohio’s injured workers and our employer community — would agree. When the COVID-19 crisis emerged in early March, Governor Mike DeWine called on his agencies, including BWC, to do all we can to support our fellow Ohioans and our business community through these unprecedented times.

We’re doing our best. Take a look.

  • We are sending our private and public employers up to $1.6 billion this month — 100% of the premium they paid in policy year 2018 — to ease COVID-19’s impact on their bottom line and our economy. We started sending checks on Monday, April 20, and should wrap up by Monday, April 27.
  • Before our Board of Directors approved our dividend April 10, we deferred premium payments for employers for March, April, and May until June 1.

“BWC will not cancel coverage or assess penalties for amounts not paid because of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted, announcing the deferment on March 21 during Governor DeWine’s daily press briefing. “Installment payments due for the three-month period are totaled at approximately $200 million, and that money will now stay in the economy.”

  • We are working with injured workers to gather the necessary medical evidence to continue benefits that were set to expire on April 30.
  • We have created a special team to handle the newly filed COVID-19 claims to provide them with careful attention.
  • We relaxed or waived deadlines for the following programs that save employers money on their premiums. We are applying the discounts automatically.

– Drug Free Safety Program.
– Grow Ohio.
– EM Cap.
– Industry Specific Safety Program.
– One Claim Program.
– Policy Activity Rebate Program.

  • When Governor DeWine and other state leaders called on all Ohioans to help shore up Ohio’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supply, BWC responded. Our employees across Ohio uncovered and donated hundreds of N-95 masks, safety goggles, nitrile gloves, hand sanitizers, wipes and more.
  • We have stopped pursuing collections efforts.
  • We continue to make timely payments to our medical providers.
  • We are embracing the use of telemedicine to help injured workers connect with their medical and therapy providers.
  • We continue to issue new workers’ comp policies.
  • We are temporarily waiving some annual requirements for self-insured businesses to ensure they continue operations with certificates of coverage.

Here are some other actions our state is taking to help us through this difficult time:

  • Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted have launched a new “Ohio, Find It Here” campaign to help residents support businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please visit ohio.org/SupportLocalOhio.
  • The state is asking residents and businesses who can donate personal protective equipment (PPE), or any other essential service or resource, to please email Together@Governor.Ohio.Gov.
  • Ohioans can apply for unemployment benefits online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at ohio.gov. It is also possible to file by phone at 877-644-6562 or TTY at 888-642-8203, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Employers with questions should email UCTech@jfs.ohio.gov.

Clearly, business is NOT as usual in Ohio, but our work continues, and we remain committed to excellent service for our customers.

Remember — We are #InThisTogetherOhio.

For more on our programs, visit bwc.ohio.gov. For more on COVID-19 as it relates to BWC, visit this Frequently Asked Questions page. For other questions about COVID-19 related to BWC, you can email BWCCOVID19@bwc.state.oh.us.

For the latest on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit the Ohio Department of Health website coronavirus.ohio.gov, or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

Take these safety steps whether mowing at work or home

By Kennedy Gardner, BWC Occupational Safety and Hygiene Fellow

In recent weeks, four Ohio workers suffered serious injuries while operating lawn mowers.

The injured workers included:

  • A 44-year-old male working in Massillon who died in a mower rollover.
  • A 21-year-old male working in North Canton who suffered multiple injuries in a mower rollover.
  • A 47-year-old male working in Cleveland who suffered multiple amputations from contact with a running mower blade.
  • A 75-year-old male in Chillicothe who suffered multiple injuries in a mower rollover.

Events like these are reminders of the dangers associated with lawn mowing. Whether you’re mowing for work or in your own yard, below are safety tips for operating either a push or riding lawn mower this summer.

Before using any type of lawn mower, make sure to read the instruction manual and ensure the mower is in good working order. Many injuries come from items being thrown from the spinning blades of the lawn mower. Before starting, clear the mowing area of potential flying objects such as:

  • Toys.
  • Stones.
  • Sticks and smaller tree limbs.
  • Trash and other debris.

Avoid running over any objects and steer clear of immovable objects (e.g., trees and large rocks). Also, users should always wear personal protective equipment, including hearing/eye protection and closed-toe shoes.

Another common injury from lawn mowers are cuts. These injuries often occur when sharp mower blades contact hands, feet or other body parts. It may seem like common sense, but never insert hands or feet into the mower or the discharge chute to remove grass or debris. Even if the lawnmower is turned off, the blades could still be spinning and cause a serious injury. Also, only use a mower that has protection from the hot and sharp parts of the equipment, and never remove these safety devices.

The risk of rollover increases when using a riding lawn mower on a hill or slope. When using a riding mower on a slope:

  • Make sure the roll over protection system (ROPS) is in place.
  • Never use a riding lawn mower on a slope greater than 15%.
  • Slow down and use caution when making turns and changing directions.
  • Never start or stop a riding mower when it is going uphill or downhill. Avoid all sudden starts, stops or turns.
  • If the tires lose traction, disengage the blades and proceed slowly straight down the slope.

Unfortunately, lawn mower accidents are the leading cause of amputations among children, with 600 of the 800 injuries involving children in the United States resulting in an amputation. The best way to avoid these horrific accidents is to keep children inside during mowing, and never let a child ride or sit on the lap of the mower operator. Also, keep pets inside when mowing the lawn as well to avoid unnecessary injuries or accidents.

Always keep safety as a priority and be cautious when mowing the lawn this summer. #summertimesafety

Share your knowledge at OSC20!

By Julie Darby Martin, BWC Safety Congress Manager

Do you have the experience to help make workplaces safer and healthier? Are you comfortable speaking to a crowd?

If so, you could be a presenter at our Ohio Safety Congress & Expo 2020 (OSC20), the nation’s largest occupational-focused safety and health event. We’re now accepting presentation proposals for this multi-day event, scheduled for March 11 – 13, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio.

OSC20 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, 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.

OSC20 will also offer a virtual conference element. This live-stream format will allow viewers to attend a track of sessions from their personal computer or mobile device. When submitting your proposal, you will have the option to express interest in, opt-out of or pose questions regarding your session being considered for the virtual conference.

We’re accepting applications until July 19. For application guidelines and to submit your proposal, visit our call for presentations site. Want to see highlights from our most recent event? Check out our OSC19 Twitter recap.

Learn fall protection and prevention! Attend a BWC stand-down event

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

In 2017, there were 971 construction fatalities nationwide; 366 of them resulted from falls from elevation.

Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) again lists fall protection in construction as its most frequently cited standard.

To raise awareness and reduce injuries and fatalities, OSHA promotes its annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls. The stand-down encourages employers across the nation to hold events in conjunction with the multi-day event, May 6-10 this year. As always, the stand-down encourages employers to pause during their workday for topic discussions, safety demonstrations, and trainings in hazard recognition and fall prevention.

We have scheduled four FREE training events open to the public during the week of the stand-down. We’ve listed information for each below.

Garfield Heights event

  • When: 8 a.m. to Noon May 7
  • Where: BWC’s Garfield Heights Service Office – 4800 E. 131st, Garfield Heights, OH 44131
  • Event details: Presentations by experts from T. Allen Incorporated, The Albert M. Higley Co., Werner Ladder, Honeywell and the Cleveland OSHA Area Office
  • Register: Visit the BWC Learning Center and enter Stand-Down Event in the search field then enroll for the Garfield Heights event.

 Mansfield event

  • When: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. May 7
  • Where: MHS Industrial Supply – 70 Sawyer Parkway, Mansfield, OH 44903
  • Event details: Presentation by experts from FallTech; co-hosted by MHS Industrial Supply
  • Register: Visit the BWC Learning Center and enter Stand-Down Event in the search field then enroll for the Mansfield event.

 Pickerington event

  • When: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. May 10
  • Where: BWC’s Ohio Center for Occupational Safety and Health – 13430 Yarmouth Drive, Pickerington, OH 43147
  • Event details: Presentations by experts from Guardian Fall Protection, LBJ Inc. and the Columbus OSHA Area Office
  • Register: Visit the BWC Learning Center and enter Stand-Down Event in the search field then enroll for the Pickerington event.

Youngstown event

  • When: 7:30 – 9 a.m. May 7
  • Where: Boak & Sons, Incorporated – 75 Victoria Road, Austintown, OH 44515
  • Event details: Presentation by experts from 3M and a drop demonstration truck; co-hosted by Boak & Sons, Incorporated
  • Register: Email David Costantino or call 330-301-5825; email David Loughner or call 216-538-9720

We may add more events in the coming weeks. Also, don’t forget the BWC Library offers an extensive collection of audiovisual materials related to fall hazards and fall prevention. Additionally, we offer year-round classes throughout Ohio to address fall protection requirements.

It’s not too late for your company or organization to plan a stand-down event. We’re here if you need help planning your activity. Just call 1-800-644-6292 for assistance.

Working hard in the yard? Remember these safety tips

By Andrea Dong, BWC Occupational Safety and Hygiene Fellow

Think about a typical grounds maintenance worker, like a landscaper or tree trimmer, and the tasks they perform on the job. Mowing, weeding, trimming, watering and planting – these probably sound familiar, and you likely have a similar to-do list for your yard at home.

Now take a moment to think about your awareness of the different hazards in this type of work. Are you taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself and everyone around you?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that landscaping workers experienced 9,030 injuries in 2015. The following are some guidelines to help you avoid injuries while performing these tasks at home.

Mowing the lawn is probably something many of you have been doing for years, and it has become second nature. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates lawn mowing injuries sent nearly 82,000 people to the emergency room in 2015.

Before you begin, make sure you’re wearing the proper clothes; long pants, sturdy shoes with a good grip, safety glasses and ear plugs are recommended. Inspect your lawn mower before using and make sure there are no cracks, nicks or parts missing. Next you will need to add fuel to the mower. Never do this while the motor is running to reduce the risk of fires and explosions.

Now that you have the right clothing, have checked for damage and have fuel in your engine, it’s finally time to start mowing, right? Before you answer, consider the terrain where you will be working. Debris, like sticks or rocks, can be swept up by the blades and thrown out from under the mower.

The standard mower blade rotates at thousands of RPM, which translates to hundreds of MPH, and any object thrown will also travel this fast. Use the discharge chute guard to deflect debris. Watch out for bystanders, especially children, to make sure other people will not be hit.

Consider the type of mower you own along with the environment. Walk-behind and riding lawn mowers have different operating procedures and different safety concerns. For example, does your lawn have a slope or incline? With walk-behind mowers you should always mow across the slope, never up or down. If you slip, you do not want your feet to get caught between the blades.

If you use a riding mower, you should be mowing up and down the slope, which decreases your chances of tipping. If there are any drop-offs, ditches or embankments, use a string trimmer to cut grass near the edge.

Hand tools – such as shovels, hoes, rakes, shears, trowels, pruners and others – can also cause serious injury if not handled correctly. The CPSC estimates more than 64,000 injuries in 2015 were due to garden hand tool use. Only use the tool for the tasks it was designed to do.

Keep tools in good condition, and do not use if there is any damage. Look for splintered, loose, bent, or cracked handles, mushroomed heads, sprung joints, and worn teeth. Wear clothing like long pants, long sleeved-shirts, gloves, close-toed shoes and safety glasses for added protection.

Aside from hazards like cuts and bruises, hand tools can also cause strains or sprains. Overextending yourself doing yard work at home increases any soreness and fatigue from working at your job.

Straighten your back when using long-handled garden tools. Avoid using tools above shoulder height. Rotate tasks as frequently as possible to reduce your risk for repetitive motion injuries.

Working outside can also expose you to environmental hazards, with heat stress being a common occurrence in the summer. Some symptoms of heat exhaustion are dizziness, headaches, fatigue, irritation, and clammy, moist, and flushed skin.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency that includes symptoms like hot, dry skin, disorientation or confusion, convulsions, or unconsciousness. It’s important to stay cool and drink water frequently to avoid overheating. Take frequent breaks and try to complete heavy work in the coolest part of the day, usually between 6 and 10 a.m.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure your yard looks great while you and your family stay safe and healthy this summer.