COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation Wednesday announced a $1 billion rebate to business owners and municipal and county governments and what BWC billed as a major new investment in worker safety research and training.
The rebate, promoted as "Another Billion Back," follows last year's $1 billion rebate to participants in the state workers' comp program. Both rebates were made possible by strong investment returns in the workers' compensation fund, said Gov. John Kasich in making the announcement. To qualify, eligible employers must be in good standing and have paid their premiums for the period Jan. 1 to June 30.
"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," Kasich said in a prepared statement. "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 said its preliminary annualized return on its investments was 8.9% over the last three fiscal years, including 13.3% 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 as expected by the board in September, eligible private and public employers would receive a rebate equal to 60% of the premiums the paid during fiscal 2013 (ended June 30, 2013) or policy year (calendar year 2012 for public employers). The proposal will be presented to the board when it meets this month and approved at its September meeting. The BWC could begin issuing checks as early as October.
Steve Buehrer, administrator and CEO of the BWC, said his agency is embarking on a safety campaign -- "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 they experience a workplace injury or illness. A microsite on the bureau’s website (CLICK HERE) allows employers to compare injury rates and costs within and across industry sectors. The site links employers to BWC safety consultants who can survey their workplaces and offer advice on preventing occupational injuries and illnesses in their workplaces.
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, Buehrer said. Sound financial and operational management has also allowed the 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 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.
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Copyright 2014 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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