Turning around Ohio workers’ comp

To the editor:

As a member of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation board of directors since 2011, I have had the chance to witness a substantial change in Ohio’s workers’ comp system.

Since 2011, BWC has saved employers $4.3 billion in workers’ comp costs by reducing premiums, issuing rebates and providing credits to transition to a more flexible billing system.

BWC has reduced average rates for public and private employers by nearly 30 percent, resulting in a cumulative difference in premiums collected of $1 billion to date.

Strong investments and conservative fiscal management allowed for two $1 billion rebates.

By issuing $1.2 billion in credits to Ohio employers, BWC transitioned, without any cost to employers, to a modern billing system that adds flexible payment options and further reduces premiums.

BWC tripled its safety grant program to $15 million annually, issuing $40 million in grants over the last five years.

Along the way, BWC has also made significant improvements to worker safety and the care of those who are injured. We created programs that reward employers for making workplaces safer. In fact, during the past five years, injury claims have dropped 9 percent, making Ohio’s injury rates lower than the national average and all surrounding states.

We’re also taking steps to improve care of injured workers. We have started a pilot program that will help improve recovery from a workplace injury by taking a more coordinated and comprehensive approach to care with fewer delays. Our new “first-fill” program is also making sure injured workers get their first prescription without waiting until their claim is approved.

Ohio deserves a workers’ comp system that protects workers and promotes business. I’m pleased to say, that’s exactly the path we are now on and the path we intend to continue on.

Nicholas W. Zuk

Columbus

(Editor’s note: Zuk is chair of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation board of directors, as well as senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of White Castle System.)