Last spring, the administrator of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), Sarah Morrison, announced a $1 billion rebate for both public and private employers who participate in the State Insurance Fund (State Fund Employers). The bureau announced that the rebate was made possible as a result of better than expected investment returns for the bureau over the past few years. The bureau further attributed the rebate and its strong insurance fund to workplace safety programs and excellent care for injured workers. In the spring of 2017, the net value of the State Insurance Fund was $9.6 billion.

At its April 2017 meeting, the BWC’s board of directors approved the workers’ compensation premium rebate in the estimated amount of $967 million. Eligibility requirements for the rebate included the duration of the risk (the length of time the employer has had workers’ compensation coverage through the State Insurance Fund) and whether the risk was in good standing with the BWC, i.e., whether the employer had paid all past workers’ compensation premiums. The premium rebates apply to private State Fund Employers for policy years ending June 30, 2016 and for public State Fund Employers for calendar year 2015.

Payment of the rebates to qualified employers commenced in July 2017. The bureau projected that it would take approximately two months (through mid-September 2017) to pay all of the premium rebates. If your company qualifies for a State Insurance Fund premium rebate and you have not received one to date, you should call the bureau’s risk department at 1-800-644-6292. Additionally, the bureau is preparing to present its Safety Innovation Awards for the second year. These awards are designed to reward employers who innovate solutions that help reduce the risk of workplace injuries and occupational diseases. The bureau believes that rewarding safety innovations creates an atmosphere in which employers take note of the safety innovations created by other organizations and utilize them in their own companies’ safety efforts.

In the 2017 competition, the bureau awarded first place to a company that created a pneumatic clamping mechanism that eliminates repetitive manual squeezing and releasing of clamps while an employee is in the process of filling cylinders with a product. In all, the bureau presented first-, second- and third-place awards along with two honorable mentions and a People’s Choice award, with prizes ranging from $1,000 to $6,000 each.

The BWC accepted applications for the 2018 Safety Innovation Awards through September 30. After two rounds of judging, the finalists will be announced on January 8, 2018, and the winners will be announced at the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo at the Greater Columbus Convention Center on March 8, 2018.