COLUMBUS – Governor John R. Kasich today joined Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer to announce a $1 billion rebate to Ohio’s private and public sector workers’ compensation customers, as well as a major new investment in worker safety research and training. Dubbed “Another Billion Back,” the rebate comes on the heels of last year’s $1 billion rebate for workers’ comp customers. Both rebates were made possible by strong investment returns in the workers’ compensation fund.
Kasich made the announcement at Portfolio Creative, a Columbus company that recruits and staffs talent in all areas of design, marketing, communications and advertising. They are one of approximately 184,000 private and 3,800 public employers likely to receive a rebate.
“Sound fiscal management and a well-executed investment strategy continue to put BWC in a position where it can return money to its customers—Ohio’s employers—but also to workers in the form of initiatives that help them stay safe on the job,” said Kasich. “Ohio continues its effort to transform the workers’ comp system to be a better partner with employers and workers to help them succeed and stay safe, and the ability to make these types of significant rebates is part of that effort.”
BWC’s preliminary annualized return of investments was 8.9 percent over the last three fiscal years, including 13.3 percent in 2014. The State Insurance Fund net assets stand at $7.7 billion and its funding ratio far exceeds target guidelines set by the BWC Board of Directors. If approved by the BWC Board of Directors, eligible private and public employers would receive a rebate equal to 60 percent of premiums paid during the July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013 policy year (calendar year 2012 for public employers). The proposal will be presented to the board at its August meeting, and if approved in its September meeting, BWC could begin issuing checks as early as October*.
Another Billion Back seeks to build on last year’s $15 million investment in safety intervention grants with several initiatives that will ultimately enhance the safety, health and wellness of Ohio’s workforce. Additionally, special safety training is proposed to reduce injuries among firefighters, whom frequently have very high workers’ comp rates due to the dangerous and risky nature of their work. Additional information on the proposal can be found here.
“BWC’s Division of Safety and Hygiene is a national leader in promoting safe and healthy workplaces,” said Buehrer. “Our safety services provide a superior return-on-investment. We want to encourage more and more employers to put safety education resources to work to keep their workers safe and reduce their workers’ comp costs. Our new safety initiatives will make these efforts more effective and accessible for employers.”
Buehrer added that BWC is also embarking on a safety campaign themed Better Business Starts with Safety, Safety Starts at BWC to reach Ohio employers and encourage them to take advantage of BWC’s safety services before experiencing a workplace injury or illness. A microsite allows employers to compare injury rates and costs within and across industry sectors. It also links employers directly to BWC safety consultants, who can survey their workplace and advise them on preventing occupational injuries and illnesses in their workplaces. The campaign is a result of the safety commitment made as part of last year’s Billion Back initiative, which also tripled safety grant funding to $15 million for each of fiscal years 2014 and 2015.
Another Billion Back is an example of BWC’s work over the last four years to be a better partner in improving Ohio’s business environment and helping encourage the state’s economic revival. Sound financial and operational management has also allowed BWC to:
Reduce average base rates for Ohio’s private employers, bringing combined four-year collections down $409 million.
Reduce average rates for public employers by an estimated $70 million, placing them at their lowest levels in at least 30 years.
Commit $1.2 billion in transition credits to Ohio employers as part of the conversion to prospective billing.
Expand safety funding, which resulted in allowed claims dropping below 100,000 for the first time.
*Eligible employers must be in good standing and have paid their January 1 to June 30 premiums.