May 28, 2020
COLUMBUS – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced today the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is deferring the due date for employers to pay their June, July, and August premium installments until Sept.1.
Governor DeWine said the deferral is designed to help employers focus resources on re-opening their businesses under his Responsible RestartOhio Plan, the state’s effort to restart the economy while keeping Ohioans safe amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“By extending the premium due date, businesses can continue to focus on the safety and well-being of their employees and customers during this health pandemic,” said Governor DeWine.
BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud noted the deferral is the second deadline extension given to employers since COVID-19 emerged in Ohio in March.
“We’ve said since the beginning of this pandemic we would do our best to relieve the financial pressures employers are facing in this unprecedented time,” said Administrator McCloud. “This is our latest step, and I’m grateful to Ohio’s employer community, our stakeholders, and our staff for putting us in a strong position to help.”
Among several actions to help the business community’s bottom line, BWC sent Ohio’s private and public employers nearly $1.6 billion in dividends in late April thanks to strong investment returns, declining injury claims, and other costs savings. The agency is also sending at least 2 million face coverings to employers and their workforce to weaken the spread of the coronavirus under its Protecting Ohio’s Workforce — We’ve Got You Covered plan.
For more on COVID-19, including prevention guidelines and its impact on Ohio, visit the Ohio Department of Health website coronavirus.ohio.gov.
# # #
Tony Gottschlich, 614-644-4940 or 614-296-1734, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim Norris, 614-728-8045 or 614-361-0202, email@example.com
Established in 1912, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is the exclusive provider of workers’ compensation insurance in Ohio and serves 249,000 public and private employers. With 1,800 employees and assets of approximately $28 billion, BWC is the largest state-run insurance system in the United States. Our mission is to protect Ohio’s workers and employers through the prevention, care and management of workplace injuries and illnesses at fair rates. For more, visit www.bwc.ohio.gov.
If you would rather not receive future communications from Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, let us know by clicking here.
Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, WGB, 30 W. Spring St., Level 24, Columbus, OH 43215 United States
Allen Lima Leadership Class of 2020
Media Contact: Melissa Sponseller (419) 908-7788
Matthew Childers, ALL Executive Director
firstname.lastname@example.org (419) 204-8152
ALL CLASS OF 2020 DEVELOPS REGIONAL SURVEY TO ASSIST ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS
Lima, Ohio (September 4, 2020)
The Allen Lima Leadership (ALL) Class of 2020 has accepted the challenge by Executive Director, Matt Childers to develop a project that will add value to the Greater Lima Community. During the ten-month program, teams developed project ideas and presented those projects to a panel of judges in June. The winning project is the development of a community-wide survey to gather information related to livability in the Greater Lima Region. The class is working closely with the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce and the Allen Economic Development Group to develop the best survey questions to offer the best data that will assist their strategic planning efforts.
The Regional Survey is made up of 15 questions and will take less than 5 minutes to complete. The survey will open on Friday, September 4, 2020, and will close on Friday, September 11, 2020. The survey will be sent to regional businesses, employees, students, and posted on various social media channels. The data collected will be analyzed to develop targeted growth campaigns for companies that represent economic value to all people in the Greater Lima Region. The project coordinators are looking to receive a minimum of 1,000 responses to provide a 90% confidence rate of the data.
The Survey will also be linked on the following websites: Lima/Allen County Chamber, Allen Economic Development Group, The Lima News and Hometown Stations as well as through the ALL Facebook page.
The ALL Class of 2020 would like to invite the community to participate in this 15 question survey and share it with their friends and family, especially those that have moved away from Lima. The targeted audience is those born and raised in the Greater Lima Region, age range 18 to 35, those currently working in the Greater Lima Region, and those who live and work outside of the Greater Lima Region. Results will be presented at the class graduation scheduled on September 24, 2020, at the Civic Center.
Many Ohio small, minority- and women-owned businesses have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ohio Minority Micro-Enterprise Grant Program provides $10,000 in funding to help these companies through the current crisis and set them up for the future.
Grants will be awarded on first-come, first-served basis.
What will a return to work look like? That is the question weighing heavily on the minds of government leaders and public health officials, employers and their employees, and American families striving for the delicate balance of staying safe and making ends meet.
It is a question that begs more questions. But this much is increasingly certain: returning to work will be gradual, phased-in, and will vary by factors such as location, sector, business type or size, and the health status of workers. It also will require continued social distancing, expanded use of personal protective equipment, and other counter-measures.
Whenever the return to work begins, the planning for it must begin now. The American business community must begin preparing now for new processes, requirements, or restrictions for which there is no playbook or precedent. And we must not allow a lack of resources, regulations that are not fit-for-purpose, and the fear of litigation to sideline efforts to return to work and life—safely, successfully, and sustainably.
To help business and government anticipate the challenges we may face, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has begun to explore and catalogue some of the major implications of returning to work in this environment—ranging from workplace safety and employee rights to liability concerns and continued revenue disruptions.
Some of our initial thoughts are detailed below across three different sections:
This document is intended to spur discussion. We hope you will not only read it, but also react to it and add to it. We don’t have all the answers today – or even all the questions.
It is worth pausing to thank all of those who never stopped working, who risk their personal health to keep everyone else safer. As we proceed, we should think about how we honor them and recognize their efforts.
Working together, we know we can be better prepared for the successful reopening of our economy and an eventual return to normal ways of working and living.
General Health Screening
The CDC has recommended that critical infrastructure employers screen certain exposed employees for temperature, ideally before entering the facility. If this recommendation is expanded to cover all employees and potentially customers, employers will have to acquire temperature checking equipment and develop a process to screen individuals. Early and federally consistent guidance as to what will be expected is critical because it will take time to acquire equipment and establish protocols.
To the extent that return to work is based on the testing of employees either for the COVID-19 virus or antibodies to COVID-19, there will have to be sufficient testing capacity, as well as clear resolution on who is responsible for administering the tests, paying for the tests, and checking test results. Most employers are not well-positioned to administer these medical tests, so there must be widely accessible third-party providers. There also will need to be standardization as to when employees need to be tested, the frequency of tests (especially important if testing for infection, rather than antibodies), and the documentation employees will provide to employers. Frequent testing could be especially costly, and it should be determined who will bear those costs.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
If public health professionals recommend widespread use of PPE, such as masks, it will require clarity as to what is needed and who is responsible for providing such equipment, especially if shortages persist. For example, with respect to certain employees in critical infrastructure, the CDC has said: “Employers can issue facemasks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.” However, the purpose of these masks should be made clear as many are not rated for protecting the wearer and employers asking employees to wear them should not be held liable if an employee contracts COVID-19 while wearing such a mask.
Approximately eight million Americans rely on public transportation to get to and from work each day. Public transportation is most efficient when it maximizes density, which needs to be avoided to preserve social distancing. While staggered worktimes can help spread out the rush hour, transit systems likely will need to operate at what would normally be excess capacity in order to support public health. Transit systems will likely require some form of financial assistance to support a safe return to work.
Throughout the United States, many childcare providers that are still operating are primarily only caring for the children of essential workers. They also have implemented various public health recommendations to increase social distancing, such as lowering teacher-child ratios. In order to allow other parents to return to work, childcare providers will need to presumably operate under sub-optimal financial conditions: below previous capacity levels (as not all employees will return to work at once) and with increased costs (to maintain social distancing and accommodate staggered work times). Childcare providers will likely require some form of temporary financial assistance in recognition that they will need to operate at a loss in order to allow parents to return to work.
Resolution of Regulatory and Legal Liability Issues
A reopening plan that is medically based and relies on social distancing and other best practices for public health may raise significant regulatory and legal liability risks. These are in addition to numerous lawsuits already filed as a result of COVID-19 and litigation risk that will become exacerbated during a reopening. Issues include:
Federal and some state laws are designed to maximize the health privacy of individuals. However, this objective could conflict with potential reopening requirements for employers to verify an employee’s COVID-19 status and/or their vulnerability due to underlying health conditions. Employer efforts to protect other employees and conduct contact tracing in the workplace after an individual has tested positive could be slowed by obligations to protect the infected individual’s health privacy. In addition, confidentiality requirements could prevent businesses from narrowly focusing their contact tracing so as to balance workforce safety while minimizing business interruption. During the COVID-19 national emergency and recovery period, employers will need a broad safe-harbor to make necessary inquiries regarding health status and to make certain limited disclosures to prevent the spread of the disease.
Employers who conduct a medically-based or risk-based reopening (using factors such as age or underlying health conditions) may face liability under existing anti-discrimination rules, including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the anti-discrimination provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition, employers could face claims for adverse employment actions by employees who are delayed in returning to work or who feel they are not provided other reasonable employment accommodations. At the same time, employers can likewise face liability if they return at-risk employees to work too soon. There is a need for clear guidance about what practices are acceptable in conducting a medically-based or risk-based reopening and provide a safe harbor for actions taken by employers consistent with those guidelines.
Safe Workplace Requirements
Generally, when maintaining a safe workplace requires the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, respirators, and physical barriers, OSHA requires employers to be responsible for ensuring the availability of such equipment and training employees on the use of the equipment. This is simply not possible if PPE becomes recommended in all workplaces. The federal government should make clear that PPE recommended specifically to combat the spread of COVID-19 is not subject to the normal OSHA requirements around workplace PPE.
Employers also may face lawsuits around the limited supply of or training for PPE. Worker’s compensation issues dealing with shortages of PPE or its incorrect use are also likely to emerge. The federal government should clarify the scope of liability for the provision (or inability to provide due to scarcity) of PPE.
Support for Independent Contractors
More than 23 million Americans receive income as independent contractors in fields as varied as construction, news reporting, professional services, and online-platform-enabled work. Businesses want to be able to provide the same type of workplace protections to independent contractors as they do for employees. However, doing so could be used to argue that the individual has ceased to be an independent contractor and is instead an “employee.” Congress should settle this tension by creating a safe harbor that would allow businesses to implement health practices and provide benefits, including PPE, without establishing a formal employment relationship for the duration of the COVID-19 return to work transition.
Employers already are facing litigation regarding employment practices related to the pandemic. This includes class actions in the transportation industry regarding employees’ scope of work and travel destinations. Employers also could face liability around wage-and-hour issues (for example: Are employees compensated while getting tested or passing through screening?), leave policy, travel restrictions, telework protocols, and worker’s compensation. In addition, employers could risk legal actions if they do not accommodate employees who either insist on returning to work even though they have not completed health screenings or are high risk, or who refuse to return to work and provide adequate support for such refusal. There should be a safe harbor for temporary employer-implemented workplace policy changes designed to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Another source of liability are charges against employers forced to lay off workers in response to social distancing policies and government-mandated closures. The federal WARN Act and many similar state laws require employers comply with procedural requirements, including notice to employees in the event of layoffs. California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order on March 17, 2020 that suspended some requirements under California’s WARN Act and ordered the state’s labor agency to issue guidance on the suspension. Policymakers should implement similar statutory and/or regulatory changes designed to limit the application of the WARN Act for COVID-19 related layoffs.
This is perhaps the largest area of concern for the overall business community. It encompasses multiple types of claims that could be brought against business that have been designated as “essential” as well as large swaths of the remaining business community once the economy is reopened. The core component of claims in this category is that a customer/employee/patient/member of the public/etc. was exposed to COVID-19 in a business facility or as the result of a business’ particular action, or failure to act, and then that claimant became sick. The legal theories underlying these claims may range from simple negligence to strict liability to public nuisance, which the plaintiffs’ bar could try to pursue through contingency fee arrangements with cash-strapped states and municipalities. Depending on the legal theory underlying the claim, proving causation may be a challenge for plaintiffs. If enough claims are brought, the scope and magnitude of the litigation still may exert enough pressure to threaten businesses or industries with bankruptcy. The threat of exposure-related lawsuits also will deter some businesses from reopening even after it is determined that they could safely operate by following the guidance of appropriate health authorities.
Reforms to address these types of claims are largely dependent on which legal theory underlies a particular claim. For example, in the negligence space, providing a safe harbor for companies following CDC or state/local health department guidance could be helpful so long as the companies’ actions do not amount to gross negligence, recklessness, or willful misconduct. Procedural reforms such as channeling certain claims into federal court rather than allowing them to remain in various state courts could be helpful. Prohibiting or tightly circumscribing public nuisance claims also could be useful. Finally, policymakers should look to the reforms contained in prior economy-wide federal legal reform laws, such as the Y2K Act for guidance.
Makers of certain products/devices/equipment to either protect against, treat, or test for COVID-19 may not have sufficient protection against speculative litigation. While the PREP Act currently provides protection against some types of liability for some categories of key “countermeasures,” it does not cover others. For example, while respirators are now covered by the Act, hand sanitizers, soaps and other key cleaning supplies are not. Furthermore, the Act does not provide protection outside key healthcare-related spaces. For example, a non-healthcare provider business that provides PPE to its employees or uses recommended cleaning products does not receive any protections under the PREP Act. The list of product types covered by the PREP Act should be expanded to include widely recommended protective products such as hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies. In addition, the Act could be expanded to cover additional categories of users and providers of essential countermeasures.
There is increasing concern about medical liability claims being brought against healthcare providers and facilities caring for COVID-19 patients. For example, the plaintiffs’ bar could try to bring medical liability/malpractice claims arising from care decisions, lack of care due to equipment shortages, as well as mistakes due to long hours or staff shortages. Also of concern are lawsuits brought against nursing homes and assisted living facilities for allegedly failing to protect residents/patients from contracting COVID-19. Healthcare facilities could be forced to ration care and make difficult decisions about who does and does not receive specific types of treatments, and each of those decisions has the potential of becoming a lawsuit. In addition, there are liability concerns about claims brought by non-COVID-19 patients who allege that they did not receive the appropriate standard of care due to the influx of COVID-19 patients that a healthcare facility or provider was required to treat.
At the federal level, the CARES Act provides some liability protections for volunteer healthcare providers caring for COVID-19 patients. The CARES Act language should be expanded to include all healthcare providers and facilities (not just volunteers). In addition, significant state-level COVID-19 medical liability statutes, such as one New York recently enacted, could serve as a model for a preemptive federal fix in this area.
Securities class actions already have been filed against businesses impacted by the coronavirus—such as those in the cruise line and pharmaceutical sectors—based on stock-price drops resulting from the impact of the virus and claims that companies should have been warning investors about the potential consequences if the world was faced with an unprecedented pandemic. In addition, securities litigation also has been filed related to data privacy concerns for certain video conferencing platforms that have increased in popularity due to the increased use of teleworking because of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. An automatic stay should be placed on securities litigation cases arising out of or related to the COVID-19 emergency until after the President’s declaration of a public emergency has been rescinded. In addition, these types of securities cases could be consolidated into one or a few federal district courts for efficiency purposes. Also, defendants in these cases should be allowed to have interlocutory appeal rights for the denial of a motion to dismiss and plaintiffs should have to plead with particularity all the elements of their claim in these cases; and all discovery should be stayed until after the motion to dismiss stage of the litigation. Finally, it is worth considering a cap on damages in COVID-19 related securities lawsuits.
Businesses have an enhanced need during the COVID-19 emergency to communicate to customers via telephone and text messages regarding operating status, restricted access, and other issues. However, the threat of litigation under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) can cause a business to limit the use of the important informational phone calls and texts. Approval of a pending petition at the FCC to expand the type of communications subject to an emergency exemption due to the COVID-19 situation would be helpful.
False Claims Act
Cases brought under the federal False Claims Act (FCA) can impose significant liability on entities receiving federal funding or contracts and these types of liability concerns have the potential of slowing down relief under the CARES Act and any future relief measures. In the FCA space, the Small Business Administration’s Interim Final Rule implementing the paycheck protection loan program under the CARES Act does contain very helpful hold harmless language for financial services providers; to more fully effectuate that language a memorandum of understanding between the SBA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding how DOJ will approach FCA litigation under the CARES Act loan program would be extremely valuable and similar reforms also should be implemented for any future relief measures.
The federal government took unprecedented steps to support employers and individuals during the current shutdown. These programs will need to be modified and to some extent extended and targeted to assist those businesses and individuals who will remain under distress during a phased or gradual reopening.
Businesses Dependent on High-Density Gatherings or Travel
Entertainment venues, restaurants, bars, companies that host meetings and events, and many other businesses are only profitable when they achieve the type of occupancy and density that is not possible during social distancing. In addition, many businesses rely on business, trade show, and personal travel that may be greatly reduced based on social distancing guidance. A gradual or phased reopening that restricts the size of gatherings or limits travel may technically permit these businesses to reopen but this will mean operating at a significant loss. During the period where occupancy and gatherings are numerically restricted, these businesses should be provided with bridge assistance to enable them to remain viable.
Individuals Delayed in Returning to Work
Until there is a widely available vaccine, or at least a widely available effective treatment for those who fall ill, not everyone will be able to resume normal work activities. High risk populations will need to engage in social distancing or even remain at home entirely. Individuals, including independent contractors, who must stay home because of their risk profile will need ongoing financial support if they cannot work remotely. This may require an extension of regular unemployment insurance or the creation of a new “high risk” unemployment insurance system.
|From:||Suzanne Clark, President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce|
|Date:||April 13, 2020|
Changes have been made to the CARES Act passed on March 27, 2020. We realize there have been several delays in the loan processes and this has been very trying for you, our valued small business owners. We are sending this update in an effort to keep you informed.
If you have applied for an EIDL and EIDL Advance, we are hearing of some clients who have received the money in their bank account(s) as of last night.
On Thursday, April 9, 2020, the Senate blocked efforts to expand the $349 billion small business stimulus lending program by an additional $250 billion. The Senate is adjourned until Monday. The expansion of the PPP small business loan program may still occur at a later date.
Source: Coleman Report 4/10/2020
The SBA said nearly four million businesses have applied for funding under this program—seeking $383 billion—while Congress has allocated far less, $17 billion.
Source: Wall Street Journal 4/10/2020
The PPP just opened applications on April 10, 2020, for Sole Proprietors and Independent Contractors.
There is a PowerPoint presentation available on our website at www.rhodesstate.edu/sbdc if you would like to learn the details of the programs.
Stay well and together, we will get through this!
Kathy Keller, Director
Rhodes State College
Small Business Development Center
4240 Campus Drive, KH 133
Lima, OH 45804
Anthem cover member out-of-pocket costs for testing and related
visits for COVID-19?
Out-of-pocket expenses—inclusive of copays, coinsurance, and deductibles for COVID-19—are waived for tests and related visits, including visits to determine if testing is needed. Test samples may be obtained in many settings including a doctor’s office, urgent care, ER or even drive-thru testing once available. While a test sample cannot be obtained through a telehealth visit, the telehealth provider 4 can help you get to a provider who can do so. The waivers apply to members who have individual, employer-sponsored, Medicare and Medicaid plans.
Also, Anthem will waive member cost share for telehealth visits, including visits for behavioral health, for our fully-insured employer, individual, and Medicare Advantage plans, and where permissible, Medicaid plans. Self-insured plan sponsors will have the choice to participate. Cost-sharing will be waived for members using Anthem’s telemedicine service, LiveHealth Online, as well as care received from other providers delivering virtual
care will be waived for 90 days, beginning March 17. Co-pays for acute and
behavioral telehealth visits for health conditions will be waived.
For additional services, members will pay any out-of-pocket expenses their plan requires unless otherwise determined by state law or regulation. Members can call the number on the back of their identification card to confirm coverage. Providers should continue to verify eligibility and benefits for all members prior to rendering services. Self-insured plans no longer have the option not to waive out-of-pocket member expenses for the diagnostic test and the visit associated with the test, as laid out in the federal mandate.
March 17, 2020
We are going through an unprecedented disruption together. But we have been tested before in different ways, and always emerge stronger – and we have no doubt this will prove true once again.
The Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and various other business organizations commends the Governor for making the difficult decisions to protect Ohio residents from the COVID 19 virus.
We realize that these decisions will impact our businesses and the residents of our community and throughout the State of Ohio. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce President CEO Andrew E. Doehrel stated “We know this difficult decision was made in consultation with leading health experts, including Dr. Amy Acton, who are recommending actions to keep Ohioans safe during this unprecedented time. We support Governor DeWine’s decision because we believe taking steps now to confront the coronavirus will ultimately benefit our state by limiting the spread of the disease and enable Ohio to get back to normal sooner”.
We are writing today with some important updates on things that have been announced over the last few days:
Small Business Support
The President announced loans through the Small Business Administration on Thursday evening. The Lt. Governor also talked about those in Sunday’s State press conference. Here is a great resource page that gives some highlights on this program.
Here in Ohio, the Development Services Agency is helping to take the lead and they have asked that any small business owners who have been affected please send your contact information to the following email address: BusinessHelp@Development.Ohio.Gov and they will follow up with you.
Impacted Employee Support
Your employees may be affected by the temporary restrictions put in place. The Governor’s office also announced several initiatives to help:
· They are broadening current state policy to clarify that individuals that are quarantined by a health professional or by their employer are unemployed and will not be subject to requirements to actively seek work during the period of emergency.
· This also applies to companies that determine it is necessary to temporarily shut down operations due to the current emergency.
· Ohio currently has a 1-week waiting period before an individual can receive unemployment. In order to expedite the payments to impacted Ohioans, they are waiving the waiting week so that workers eligible for unemployment benefits will receive them for the first week of unemployment.
These points were taken from the Governor’s Twitter page, but as soon as more detail is available, I will share it with you.
Unemployment & Businesses
The Governor also announced some relief for businesses regarding unemployment:
· Because they do not want to penalize individual employers for the impact of this outbreak by increasing future taxes, the costs of these additional benefits will be mutualized.
· ODJFS will also waive employer penalties for late reporting and payments for the next quarter to assist employers impacted by a lack of staff availability.
*We will also share more information on these, when available.
Bar/Restaurant Owner Support
The Lt. Governor announced a temporary buy-back of high proof liquor products purchased within the last 30 days. The goal of this is to ease cash flow for bar/restaurant owners. Here is a release by the Department of Commerce that shares more. It should be returned to the Agency where it was purchased. If you have questions you may call 1-877-812-0013 or email email@example.com
Additionally, Congress acted late last week to pass legislation to support businesses and families affected by the disruption. Here is a great overview by the US Chamber which breaks down what is included.
How do you respond?
The Governor strongly urged business leaders today to consider your response to this urgent situation. Can your employees work remotely? How many? They issued the strongest call yet to have businesses encourage that. I understand that many businesses cannot do that. If that is your case, what steps can you take to ensure the maximum protection of your teams and customers, and ultimately our community? There are no easy answers here.
If you are in the service industry please send us your altered carry out/take out operations so we can assist in publicizing them to the community.
Effective March 17, 2020, the Center for Business Services building will not be open to the public. the LIMA/ALLEN COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, ALLEN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GROUP, GREATER LIMA REGION, INC, DOWNTOWN LIMA, INC., ACTIVATE ALLEN COUNTY AND ALLEN LIMA LEADERSHIP has limited the chamber building to only essential meetings of 10 or less people. most of our meetings will be held by conference calls.
Please note all chamber events have been canceled until we feel it is safe to hold them again. We have rescheduled the Awards Gala event for June of 2020 unless it will still be unsafe to hold the event.
As always, our team is working behind the scenes to figure out how we can pivot and better serve you during this time. We are interested in hearing from you, how you’re being affected, and especially any ideas that you may have to help!
Let’s rally, keep families safe and continue to support each other!
Please feel free to contact me if you have questions at cell-419-234-2600 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jed E. Metzger
BWC Increases Safety Grants Funding to $70 million – Deadline for Safety Grant
Ohio BWC secured approval to spend $70 million in fiscal years 2020 and 2021 on grants for Ohio employers to improve workplace safety. BWC increased the funding to $35 million a year, a 75% increase over the agency’s current two-year budget for the program. This increase comes just in time as Ohio employers seek grants from the BWC to invest in safety measures. Employers now have until March 31, 2020 to apply for funds in this year’s fiscal budget.
Employers who miss that deadline must wait until July 1st, the first day to apply for fiscal 2021 funding, under BWC’s popular program. Funded by employer premiums, the Safety Grants program has already reached its 2020 appropriation of $20 million. However, the BWC’s Board of Directors approved the increase at its January 31st meeting to distribute the additional funds to Ohio employers. Applications for fiscal 2020 funds via U.S. mail must be postmarked no later than March 31st. The online
application service will close after March 31st and not re-open until July 1, 2020 the first day of fiscal year 2021.
The March 31st deadline applies to the following grants:
• Safety Intervention
• Employers Working with Persons with Developmental Disabilities
• Firefighter Exposure to Environmental Elements
• School Safety and Security
• Workplace Wellness
The Safety Grants, providing up to $40,000 per employer and supporting a range of employer types, are available to all Ohio state-fund, private and public taxing district employers to purchase equipment to eliminate or reduce workplace hazards. Find more information on the Safety Grants program.
BWC Expands Worker Recovery Program
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) joined the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Clark, Greene, and Madison counties on February 4, 2020, to announce the board’s participation in BWC’s Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program (SUR-WSP). Among its features, BWC’s program incentivizes local employers to hire, better manage, and retain workers in recovery from substance use disorder by funding drug screenings and special training for managers who work with those in recovery.
SUR-WSP launched in October, 2018 in three pilot counties: Montgomery, Ross, and Scioto. Other counties participating in the program are Pike, Adams, Lawrence, Scioto, Mahoning, Lorain, CrawfordMarion, and Paint Valley.
BWC funds cover the following:
• Reimbursement for pre-employment, random and reasonable suspicion drug testing.
• Training for managers/supervisors to help them better manage a workforce that includes individuals in recovery.
BWC recently launched a new $2 million safety grant program to assist employers in purchasing equipment to protect their workers while working in trenching and excavating situations.
BWC’s Trench Safety Grant Program provides 4-to-1 matching funds, up to $12,000, to Ohio private and public employers covered by the State Insurance Fund who wish to purchase equipment to substantially reduce or eliminate injuries and illnesses associated with trenching and excavation. The grant funds can assist employers in purchasing safety equipment, such as trench boxes and hydraulic shoring. Along with the grant, BWC will provide training and educational materials for employers to share with their employees on basic requirements of trench safety.
Visit trenchsafetyohio.com for links to trenching safety information and tips, training, and publications.