The Ohio Industrial Commission Statewide Hearing Officer Meeting offered some key insights for Ohio employers.
Statewide Hearing Officer Meeting insights
First, some good news — the number of pending workers’ compensation cases in Ohio continues to decrease year after year. This decrease can be due to a myriad of factors, but is likely mostly due to the change in employees’ work environment and the overall trend of moving Ohio’s economy to be more focused on service positions. Ohio’s average number of injuries per 100 employees continues to remain below the national average, making Ohio a desirable place for employees to work. Consequently, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation continues to lower rates for employers and issue premium refunds. We expect the BWC will issue more refunds to Ohio employers in 2024.
Second, in an effort to assist employers, the BWC will now permit entities to make premium payments for multiple entities. For example, if a restaurant group owns multiple restaurants, each with their own risk policy, the restaurant group can log on and make payments for each restaurant at one time. This may be particularly useful if payroll companies or accounting firms also make payments for multiple companies. The BWC has also reduced the time for approval of safety grants to employers, increased availability of safety grants, and expanded eligibility for safety grants.
Finally, the Industrial Commission hinted at changes that may be forthcoming. The option to attend hearings via Webex will remain; and it is possible the Commission will permit attendees to attend hearings via video and present video evidence. Further, the Commission may determine certain hearings will only be conducted virtually; however, this presents difficulty for ensuring all injured workers have access to a computer. To date, the Commission has not yet authorized these changes.
We will continue to monitor any changes to the workers’ compensation system in Ohio.