COLUMBUS — More than 570 Ohio employers have received, or are in the process of receiving, nearly $15 million in safety grants from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
Ohio BWC expects to finish awarding its Fiscal Year 2016 grants in the next few weeks to applications already in hand. This will be the quickest the money has been awarded since the amount of available dollars was tripled by Governor John R. Kasich three years ago.
“Ohio’s employers value the safety of their workers, and understand how investments in safety can reduce injuries and increase productivity,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “We have seen our injury claims drop more than 10 percent, from 105,000 to 94,000 over the past five years, which tells us Ohio’s workplaces are getting safer.”
Since Fiscal Year 2011 both claims that involve medical care only, as well as those involving time off work have dropped. In FY 15, BWC approved 81,348 medical-only claims and 11,870 lost time claims compared to 89,505 medical only and 13,296 lost-time claims in FY 11. This drop in claims has helped BWC reduce employer rates. Since 2011 private business rates have been reduced 21.4 percent overall, while public employers have seen a reduction of 26.5 percent.
Ohio’s safety record is echoed in recent figures released by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, which continue to show Ohio’s injury rate is below the national average. Those statistics, from 2014, show Ohio’s injury rate is 2.9 injuries per 100 workers, compared to a national average of 3.4 injuries per 100 workers. Ohio’s rate is lower than all its neighboring states including Michigan (3.7), Indiana (4.0), Kentucky (3.8), West Virginia (4.1) and Pennsylvania (3.6).
“With a workforce approaching six million, even this small difference means tens of thousands fewer injuries than if we were at the national average,” noted Buehrer.
“Ohio’s safety grant program is a proven way for employers to reduce exposure to hazards and consequently prevent accidents and injuries in their workplaces,” says BWC’s Chief of Safety and Hygiene Abe Al-Tarawneh. “Our data show that employers who participated in this program in the past managed to reduce the frequency and cost of injuries in the area of the intervention by 66 percent and 81 percent, respectively.”
The Safety Intervention Grant program, now in its 16th year, provides 3-to-1 matching funds, up to a maximum of $40,000 per employer. Al-Tarawneh notes that while BWC is no longer accepting applications for this year, employers can begin applying for $15 million in FY 2017 funds in April 2016.
Meanwhile, BWC offers a variety of safety services across Ohio, including training classes, consultation and a large library of resources. Employers can contact a safety consultant at 1-866-569-7805, or visit bwc.ohio.gov for more information.