Ohio's Workplace Injuries Have Dropped 30 Percent Since 1997

Workplace injuries in Ohio have been reduced by 30 percent since fiscal year 1997, according to the results of a recent study conducted by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

In fiscal year 2004, there were 184,810 Ohioans injured at work. Eight years earlier, 263,179 employees in the state were hurt in on-the-job accidents, according to the agency.

Overall, more than 200,000 businesses across the state had no claims filed during the fiscal year 2004, which runs from July 1, 2003, through June 30, 2004.

James Conrad, administrator and CEO of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, attributes the decrease to a combination of safety programs created by the agency and a greater awareness effort on the part of Ohio employers to prevent injuries.

"Preventing injuries is important to businesses that want to reduce workers' comp expenses," Conrad said. "Fewer injuries not only lead to lower premiums, but also marginalize other costs such as overtime and training that can't necessarily be measured but certainly hurt a company's bottom line."

Overall, 75 of 88 counties saw the number of injuries decline between fiscal year 1997 and 2004. Lawrence County experienced the most significant improvement with a 49-percent decrease. Monroe (47 percent), Clinton (41 percent), Hardin (41 percent) and Putnam (39 percent) followed.

Businesses incur a variety of expenses that result from workers' compensation claims. In addition to direct costs, such as increased premiums, companies face indirect costs that are nearly four times as expensive. Some of these costs include hiring and training replacements, paying overtime, experiencing decreased productivity or losing business altogether.

Since 1995, the bureau has worked with its stakeholders, including business and labor groups, to identify strategies and techniques it could use to reduce workplace injuries. The agency has created several programs that provide premium discounts in exchange for helping businesses implement comprehensive safety programs designed to prevent accidents. In addition, educational conferences, such as Workers' Compensation University, have attracted more than 20,000 attendees who seek to learn how to make their workplaces safer.

For more information on how to prevent injuries and reduce workers' compensation costs, contact the bureau at (800) OHIO-BWC, or visit the agency online at http://www.ohiobwc.com.

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