OH BWC Board of Directors Approves New Workplace Substance Abuse Prevention Program

                               Columbus, OH (CompNewsNetwork) - The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors has reinforced its commitment to the mitigation of substance abuse in Ohio workplaces with the creation of the new Drug-Free Safety Program (DFSP). The Board voted today to adopt the program to promote the health of Ohio's work force and to prevent workplace injuries attributed to use/abuse of alcohol and/or drugs. The DFSP will be available on July 1, 2010.

The DFSP will replace the current Drug-Free Workplace Program and was created as a result of the recommendations of the recent comprehensive study of Ohio's workers' compensation system, its programs and services. The modernized program extends eligibility to more employers and eliminates the current program's participation limit of five years. The restructured program will also provide premium discounts from three to seven percent. Additional program information, including an application for interested employers, will be available Friday, Apr. 2 at ohiobwc.com.

"The DFSP has improved the application and participation process for Ohio employers. It will also provide measurable results and be actuarially sound," said Dr. Abe Al-Tarawneh, Superintendent of BWC's Division of Safety and Hygiene. "The DFSP's design process included a thorough review of scientific literature in this area, benchmarked similar programs at the national level, consulted with experts including the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and The Ohio State University. The process also included structured meetings for soliciting input from interested parties including employers, employer and employee representative organizations, third party administrators, and vendors."

In addition, the Board of Directors was presented its monthly review of BWC's Enterprise Report, which demonstrated the impact of recent rate decreases during the latest payroll collection period. Collections from Jan. 1 through Mar. 16 saw a 13-percent decrease. The agency's chief financial officer showed the reduction is primarily due to the average 12-percent rate decrease in private employer premium rates that took effect July 1, 2009.

"Rate reform has lowered workers' compensation insurance costs for the majority of Ohio employers," said BWC Administrator Marsha Ryan. "Ohio's private non-group employers are now recognizing the impact of the 25-percent rate reductions that went into effect last year. Lower premiums allow employers to invest the money they've saved back into their operations and their workforce."

BWC's Enterprise Report provides details of the agency's financial and operational activities and is utilized for management and oversight by the Board of Directors. The report is posted on the Board of Directors page.

The board also unanimously approved a second contract renewal to retain Mercer Investment Consulting, Inc. as the Bureau's full-service investment consultant. Mercer, of Chicago, Ill., provides a range of consulting advice and services to the board, its Investment Committee and BWC staff. The firm was initially hired by the board in February 2008 following a Request for Proposal process. The current contract ends June 30, 2011.

Finally, the Board of Directors voted to maintain current investment strategies for the Marine Industry Fund (MIF) and the Public Work-Relief Employees' Fund (PWRF). The board voted to maintain the asset allocation for both funds at 99-percent bonds and 1-percent cash. The MIF provides voluntary coverage to employers that have employees who work on or about navigable waters, as required by the Federal Longshoremen and Harbor Workers' Act. The PWRF provides workers' compensation benefits for work-relief employees, who are employed by public employer taxing districts or public employer state agencies.

The next meeting of the BWC Board of Directors will be Friday, Apr. 30, 2010 at 8 a.m. in Room 3, Level 2 of the William Green Building, located at 30 W. Spring St., Columbus. 

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