The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) announced this week that workplace injuries have been reduced by 30 percent since fiscal year 1997, according to the results of a recent study conducted by the bureau.
In fiscal year 2004, there were 184,810 Ohioans injured at work. That number compares favorably to just eight years earlier when more than 263,179 employees were hurt in on-the-job accidents.
“Today’s news represents a positive step in demonstrating Ohio is a safer place to work,” Gov. Bob Taft said. “Working safely and preventing accidents helps to advance Ohio’s business climate by keeping productivity high and greatly reducing workers’ compensation expenses. But more importantly, it shows we’re making progress in our efforts to care for the lives of Ohio workers.”
James Conrad, BWC’s administrator and CEO, was encouraged as well. “I am extremely pleased we’re making progress in our efforts to improve safety in Ohio’s workplaces,” he said. “By expanding our resources, advancing our educational efforts, and most importantly, partnering with our stakeholders, it’s clear we’ve had a positive impact on the lives of many workers and their families.”
Conrad attributes the decrease to a combination of BWC safety programs and a greater awareness effort on the part of Ohio employers to prevent injuries. Overall, more than 200,000 businesses across the state had no claims filed during the fiscal year 2004, which runs from July 1, 2003, through June 30, 2004.
“Preventing injuries is important to businesses that want to reduce workers’ compensation expenses,” Conrad said. “Fewer injuries not only lead to lower premiums, but also marginalize other costs such as overtime and training that can’t necessarily be measured but certainly hurt a company’s bottom line.”
The study also examined allowed claim trends over an eight-year period in Ohio to determine which counties had the fewest claims among all of its businesses. Franklin County had the lowest claim rate at 1.4 per $1 million of employer payroll, followed by Delaware County at 1.5. Athens and Hamilton Counties were next 1.6, while Greene and Defiance came in at 1.7.
Statewide, the average was 2.0 per $1 million of payroll.
Overall, 75 of 88 counties saw the number of injuries decline between fiscal year 1997 and 2004. Lawrence County experienced the most significant improvement with a 49-percent decrease. Monroe (47 percent), Clinton (41 percent), Hardin (41 percent) and Putnam (39 percent) followed.
Businesses incur a variety of expenses that result from workers’ comp claims. In addition to direct costs, such as increased premiums, companies face indirect costs which are nearly four times as expensive. Some of these costs include hiring and training replacements, paying overtime, experiencing decreased productivity or losing business altogether.
In fact, with today’s average claim costs around $30,000, it reportedly becomes more difficult to recoup lost revenue. For example, a business with a profit margin of five percent would need sales of $600,000 to cover the direct costs of an injury and sales of $2.4 million dollars to cover the indirect costs of an injury.
Since 1995, the bureau has worked with its stakeholders, including business and labor groups, to identify strategies and techniques it could use to reduce workplace injuries. BWC has created a host of programs that provide premium discounts in exchange for helping businesses implement comprehensive safety programs designed to prevent accidents.
In addition, educational conferences, such as Workers’ Compensation University, have attracted more than 20,000 attendees who seek to learn how to make their workplaces safer.
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