It is the goal and responsibility of all business owners to provide safe working conditions for their employees. But no matter how many precautions are taken, accidents happen and there will be times when workers are hurt on the job. For those occasions, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ compensation is available to ensure those injured workers have resources to help them get back to health.
In recent years the legislature has made reforms to the Ohio’s workers’ compensation system to make sure the program remains strong for many years to come. In passing House Bill 207 last week, the Ohio House took another common-sense step to protect both workers and business owners.
The purpose of House Bill 207 can be most easily understood when considering the following hypothetical: An employee gets into a motor vehicle accident while performing a function of his or her job. The accident is not the employee’s fault, but instead the fault of a third party—someone not involved with the performance of the job or the business.
In this situation, it is clear that neither the employee nor the employer should be blamed for the accident. However, under Ohio law, the employer would need to file a claim with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and the BWC would be liable for physical damages to the employee. Over time, this incident would likely cause the rates that the employer pays to the BWC to increase. That can eventually lead to the employer being kicked out of its group rating plan, or in other words, removed from a plan that previously allowed the business to pay lower rates.
Again, this clearly seems unfair, considering that the motor accident that led to all of this was not the fault of anyone involved with the business. Under House Bill 207, the costs associated with the workers’ compensation claim in this case would be charged to what is called a Surplus Fund Account, rather than to the employer’s rating. Such an alternative frees up the employer from ultimately paying higher rates to the BWC. At the end of the day, HB 207 makes sure that employers are not punished for mishaps that are outside their control, which can save employers a lot of money and even damage to their companies.
When the sponsors, Reps. Mike Henne and Rob McColley, shared with me their ideas for this legislation, I knew it was something that made sense and that needed to be done. HB 207 can save employers a lot of money and potential damage to their companies, while still ensuring that injured employees receive proper treatment and care following an accident on the job.
Cliff Rosenberger is the Ohio House Speaker.