Ohio boasts one of the best performing workers’ compensation systems, a system that came under intense criticism in 2005, with many calling for privatization of the program. The past five years, however, have been a turning point for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation as they have begun to exceed all expectations. As Ohio’s workers’ compensation system has improved, so has our state’s business environment. 

The BWC has incorporated a number of changes in order to transform the system into one of success. These extensive changes have enabled the BWC to return $2 billion back to the pockets of employers in both sectors. Additionally, the bureau was able to allocate $35 million for workplace safety grants in order to make a safer environment for Ohio workers. These changes have enabled the BWC to reduce the base rates for private employers by 21.4 percent in the past five years, and have reduced the rates for public employers to their lowest level in 30 years.

Employee wellness and healthcare is also something that has been emphasized. The BWC claims process has been expedited in order to provide the employee with the proper healthcare in order to help them return to work quicker. Claims are now referred to a specialist depending on whether the claim is considered short or long term, and the BWC is working with physicians to allow for a more flexible treatment plan. A Wellness Grant Program has also been initiated that encourages a healthy workforce by addressing symptoms of chronic disease, and other ailments, that contribute to workplace injuries.

Additionally, I co-sponsored legislation passed by the Ohio House that pertains to issues of state workers’ compensation claims that involve motor vehicle accidents caused by a third party. Under House Bill 207, auto claims that are the fault of a third party are paid for from the Surplus Fund Account. This is in contrast to current law, which often leads to employees being kicked out of their group rating program meaning their premiums are at the very least doubled. This legislation will benefit many employers and employees because they will no longer be held financially liable for an incident for which a third party was responsible.

The Ohio workers’ compensation system has broken through every barrier proving that privatization was not the answer. Strong leadership and better money management helped put the agency on a path to success. Now, employees can rest assured knowing that if something were to happen on the worksite, Ohio has them covered.

The BWC has certainly proven itself over the past five years, and I am confident in its ability to continue this trend of success in order to help Ohio businesses and their employees.

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