Consider These Moves to Maintain a Lid on Workers’ Comp Costs

Consider These Moves to Maintain a Lid on Workers’ Comp Costs

Here are six practical steps Ohio employers can take to keep their premiums down.

1. Prevent injuries before they occur. Ohio employers can take advantage of safety services offered by the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation.

Industrial hygienists from the bureau will, upon request, come to your business to evaluate physical hazards in the workplace. They will evaluate the safety of machines and systems and safety of the workplace to help reduce traumatic injury and occupational illness.

2. Try to get into a group rating program. Generally, employers who are able to get into group rating programs receive large discounts on their Ohio workers’ compensation premiums.

A group rating program allows companies to group their workers’ compensation claims histories together. 

3. Adopt written policies on early reporting of injuries. The earlier an injury is reported, the sooner the employer can take action. Employers should have written policies requiring employees to immediately report accidents, with or without injury, to their supervisors.  

4. Challenge suspicious claims or suspicious requests for benefits. As an Ohio employer, you have the right to contest a claim if you believe that the injury did not occur in the course of or arising out of the employee’s work.

For example, if the employee tells a co-worker a week before the alleged work injury that the injured worker injured himself at home, this would be a basis for arguing that the employee’s alleged work injury actually occurred outside the course and scope of employment.  

5. Get the employee back to work as soon as possible. Workers’ compensation premiums are based largely upon the amount of benefits paid to employees in workers’ comp claims.

Getting the employee as soon as possible will limit the amount of benefits paid by the bureau and, as a result, can help keep an employer’s premiums down.  

6. Take advantage of several Ohio BWC programs. The workers’ compensation bureau has several programs available. They include:

Salary continuation. Employers are permitted to continue paying an employee’s salary directly, if the employee also agrees. This reduces the temporary total disability benefits paid by the bureau to the employee and, in effect, can help to reduce premiums.

One claim program. For employers in group plans, the bureau’s “one claim program” entails a 40 percent discount to the employer’s “base rate,” which is used to calculate the bureau premium.

Premium discount program. This is for employers not in a group rated plan and can help employers save up to 10 percent on their premiums for several years.

Drug-free workplace program. This offers discounts to employers who implement programs to address workplace use and misuse of alcohol and other drugs.

Dealing with workers’ compensation claims can be extremely aggravating for employers, especially when they feel they are not being treated fairly by Ohio’s workers’ compensation system.

But following the proper strategies and working with a third party administrator and/or an attorney, as well as the bureau itself, employers can make a meaningful impact on their workers’ compensation costs.

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Martin Boetcher is a lawyer at HHM in Youngstown, Ohio. He can be reached at mboetcher@hhmlaw.com or at (330) 744-1111