Saturday, January 21, 2012

Guest Column: New Programs a priority for BWC

Guest Column from State Rep. Barbara Sears:

New Programs a Priority for Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

As a long-time advocate for employee benefits, I am excited that the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. The BWC has a long legacy of protecting Ohio workers and creating programs that speak to the best interest of both Ohio business owners and their employees. The BWC has been especially successful in its 100th year when it came to creating programs that protect and benefit Ohio workers.

One of the great programs created this past year by the BWC is the Destination: Excellence Program. This program aims to improve return-to-work rates by rewarding employers for building a risk management plan that focuses on safety, prevention, and returning injured employees back to their jobs more quickly. The plan offers seven program options to best fit the unique needs of employers and their businesses.

Another BWC program that seeks to keep employees healthy and productive is the new Wellness Grant Program. The Wellness Grant Program is a four year $4 million plan that awards companies up to $15,000 to create employee wellness initiatives. This program will help employers meet the challenges related to rising incidences of obesity and chronic disease, as well as an aging workforce. All of these factors contribute to workplace injuries and slow the recovery of injured workers.

Additionally, there is the Grow Ohio Program. This program speaks specifically to employers. It is designed to help boost economic development by creating options for new employers that can decrease their premiums by up to 53 percent. The Grow Ohio Program and similar efforts are crucial to creating an environment in Ohio in which businesses are able to thrive and expand.

Aside from program building, the BWC has made it a priority to cut down unnecessary spending through a series of efforts. The BWC has saved Ohio’s private employers $65 million in premiums by reducing the average base rates by four percent. Next, it has reduced Public Employer rates by five percent, thereby saving local governments $22 million a year. Lastly, the BWC has saved an additional $80 million by reducing its budget by 12 percent over the next two years.

The combination of creating excellent programs for Ohio’s workforce, alongside accomplishing major reductions in unnecessary spending, has fostered a healthier environment for the Ohio job market. It has been a remarkable year for the BWC, and I have no doubt that the momentum it has gained in its 100th year will continue into the future as we continue to serve the needs of Ohio’s workforce

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