COLUMBUS — Lt. Governor Mary Taylor and Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison have announced a $44 million investment in workplace safety, health and wellness.
The safety initiative is part of the $1 billion rebate plan proposed by Gov. John Kasich last month and approved by BWC’s board of directors April 28.
Taylor and Morrison were joined by State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers and Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities Director John Martin for the announcement at the Wesley Glen Retirement Community in Worthington.
“Each day, millions of Ohioans leave their homes to go to work, provide for their families and drive economic growth in Ohio,” said Taylor. “We owe it to Ohio’s workers and their families to ensure our workplaces are safe and that those workers are able to return home each day after their shift.”
The new initiative calls for $44 million over two years to improve wellness and safety for workers across Ohio. This includes a new wellness program, funding for specific programs to help firefighters and those who work with children and adults with disabilities, and an education campaign to address common injuries at work and in the home.
“We at BWC have a strong history of promoting safety in the workplace, as evidenced by record-low claims,” said Morrison. “This program is about expanding that effort directly to workers and creating a culture of safety among all Ohioans.”
The initiative is expected to launch in January and includes:
• $6 million annually for a new health and wellness program for Ohioans working for small employers (50 or fewer employees) in specific high-risk industries, as well as injured workers with certain types of injuries. Services include smoking cessation programs, health coaching and chronic disease management.
• An extension of the current annual funding level of $15 million for Safety Intervention Grants, setting aside $4 million a year for two high-risk occupations: $2 million for fire departments to purchase equipment, including personal protective equipment, to minimize exposure to dangerous environmental elements; $2 million for employers that serve disabled children and adults; funds will support training and equipment aimed at preventing injuries among social and health care workers providing these services.
• A $2 million statewide safety awareness and education campaign for slips, trips and falls, overexertion and motor vehicle accidents, which are responsible for more than 60 percent of workplace injuries. The effort will include online and mobile training resources that address safety at home and at work.
With the green light by its board of directors, BWC will move forward with its Third Billion Back rebate plan the agency announced in March. BWC will prepare to send more than $1 billion in rebates to more than 200,000 private and public employers. Eligible employers will begin receiving checks in July totaling 66 percent of premiums for the policy year that ended June 30, 2016 (calendar year 2015 for public employers).