BWC Exec Morrison speaks on worker safety


By Josh Ellerbrock - jellerbrock@limanews.com



LIMA — The best way to reduce the costs of workers’ compensation has been to ensure that workers don’t need it in the first place.

That was the message brought to the Lima Rotary Club by Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (OBWC) Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison during the club’s Monday meeting at Veterans Memorial Civic Center.

While addressing Rotarians, Morrison mentioned the many initiatives the OBWC undertakes to keep Ohio’s workers, such as firefighters and social workers, and its work environments safe.

For example, Ohio fire departments qualify for a number of bureau grants that allow them to purchase equipment that allows firefighters to scrub away some of the carcinogenic debris that tends to dirty their outfits and cause skin cancer. Such grants decrease the amount the OBWC has to pay out in the long run, Morrison said.

Altogether, the bureau rewards up to $15 million in grants to Ohio private businesses and public entities. Grant uses include but are not limited to purchasing hydraulic adjustable tables to prevent carpal tunnel and back problems for factory workers, deploying wellness coaches to curb rates of diabetes and obesity through the Better You, Better Ohio program or helping health care companies buy lift cots to assist EMTs and nursing home caregivers when lifting patients.

At the end of the day, because of the bureau’s safety programs, Morrison said an extra 20,369 employees are able to return home safely.

The Bureau has also saved Ohio businesses money through some unplanned rebates. Due to unforeseen returns on some of the bureau’s investments, Morrison expects an additional $1.5 billion to be given back to those utilizing compensation services from the OBWC. This is possible, Morrison said, because the bureau’s profit margin is regulated closely and any overages on that margin is returned to taxpayers.

Morrison said Ohio’s compensation rates are some of the lowest in the nation. The latest numbers from 2015 put the Buckeye state as 11th lowest in the country. Morrison is looking to break the lowest 10 by the next national study exploring compensation rates.

“Our rates are currently at the lowest they have ever been in the last 40 years,” Morrison.

Morrison has also recently been recommended by Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown and nominated by President Donald Trump to serve as U.S. Federal District Court Judge for the Southern District of Ohio. Recommendations are vetted by the White House and Senate Judiciary Committee before confirmation is considered by the Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee received Morrison’s recommendation in mid-April. Morrison did not comment on her recommendation when asked.

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By Josh Ellerbrock

jellerbrock@limanews.com

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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