PDT Staff Writer
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Board of Directors Friday approved a recommendation by BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer to reduce average rates for public employer taxing districts by five percent. This marks the fourth consecutive year in which public employer rates have been reduced by at least five percent. Average rates, based on an employers’ payroll, have not been this low since at least 1983.
“I’m glad that Ohio can again reduce workers’ comp rates for local governments. They’re taking the right steps to help keep employees safer, and good management and strong investments at BWC are bringing rates down to the lowest level in nearly 30 years. At a time when government at all levels is expected to tighten its belt, Ohio is promoting shared services and lowering workers comp rates to help local governments cope,” Gov. John R. Kasich said.
The reduction is projected to lower combined premiums by an estimated $12.7 million for Ohio’s 3,900 cities, counties, townships, villages, schools and special districts, beginning Jan. 1, 2013. Combined with last year’s five percent rate reduction, Ohio’s public employers will experience an estimated two year savings of approximately $40 million, when compared to 2011 rate levels.
In Scioto County, the BWC rate reduction is projected to be one more thing that will help the county’s former deficit economy rebound.
“At all levels, BWC has worked tirelessly with us to overcome major financial obstacles in extremely difficult financial times,” said Steve Wells, Risk/Safety Director and Economic Development Administrator for Scioto County. “Our county was declared to be in fiscal emergency at a time when our claims costs were spiraling out of control. With the advice and help of BWC, we have been able to decrease claims and costs in a dramatic way. These efforts have been most instrumental in helping us to approach our goal of exit from fiscal emergency, and a timely rate decrease will help us further achieve that goal.”
The overall average decrease of five percent will result in base rate reductions, based upon recent and projected experience, for 12 of the 14 public employer types, known as manual classifications. This decrease includes some classifications in which base rates will decrease even more than the average statewide level. For example, counties’ base rate will decrease by 7.1 percent, and the base rates for public libraries, joint vocational schools and special public universities will all decline by 15.7 percent. Actual premium changes for individual public entities will differ based on several factors including their own recent claims history and program participation.
Buehrer also used the opportunity to encourage public employers to take full advantage of the bureau’s rate-savings and safety programs.
“We’re doing our part to help keep workers’ compensation rates as low as possible for Ohio’s local governments, but there are a number of programs and services BWC offers that can help even more,” Buehrer said. “Last year, we awarded $720,000 in grants to help nearly 40 public employers make their workplace safer. And safer workplaces mean fewer accidents, which translates to lower premiums.” Buehrer also noted that hundreds of public employers and thousands of public employees have benefited from safety programming through BWC’s Division of Safety & Hygiene.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.