The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) will mail an estimated $66 million in bonus checks to 2,755 Ohio public employers later this year for attending a Public Employer Summit designed to explain methods of improving workplace safety and managing workers' compensation costs.
Beginning in November 2001, all public employers were invited to the summit via mail, email, fax, telephone or personal visit. Of those contacted, 2,755 employers sent a qualified representative and many sent more than one person to one of 14 summits in all areas of Ohio including Cleveland, Canton, Toledo, Cincinnati, Columbus, Youngstown, Bridgeport, and Chillicothe. Those who attended will receive a 25 percent bonus based on workers' compensation premiums for the 2001 policy year.
In the end, eligible public entities attending the summits earned approximately $66 million of a potential $67 million available. The 989 non-attending employers will not receive the bonus.
"I'm pleased that so many leaders attended and hope that they will adopt one of our programs and invest in workplace safety," says James Conrad, BWC, administrator/CEO. "But I can't figure out why some wouldn't plan to attend when we made it clear that they would benefit their communities with a bonus check and applied knowledge after the summit."
Since 1997, private sector employers have decreased their injuries, while public sector employers (such as city governments) have continued to experience increasing medical costs and lost-time claims because of workplace injuries. This alarming increase in public employers' workers' compensation claims has made it necessary to raise premiums.
"I hope public employers use the summit information to help them eventually lower worker's comp costs by creating a safer workplace and reducing worker days lost to injury and illness," said Gov. Bob Taft.
Employers were told by Tina Kielmeyer, BWC chief of medical management, that there are two keys to injury management: Don't assume others are taking care of your employees, and don't assume you can delegate everything. The presentations in the summits encouraged employers to take a proactive role in managing workers' compensation claims by maintaining communication with injured employees and service providers such as doctors, by maintaining a list of preferred providers that know and understand the workplace, having a return-to-work strategy to help reduce costs, and by offering transitional work for injured employees who want to return to work.
In the Taft administration, BWC has returned nearly $500 million to Ohio public employers in the form of one-time dividends and more than $2.6 billion to private sector employers without compromising the medial care or benefits for injured workers.
BWC estimates that if public employers implement proven cost-saving measures and solid safety programs covered at the summits, future cost savings can more than equal the total of the 25 percent bonus.
edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])