Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation Convicted 125 Employers for Fraud in 2012

 

Showing further evidence that crime does not pay, officials with the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) recently reported 11 individuals were convicted of or pleaded guilty to charges related to defrauding the state’s compensation system in the month of December.

 

The court actions stem from investigations conducted by BWC’s special investigations department (SID). From illegally receiving workers comp payments to running a business without comp coverage or under reporting it, a number of individuals have been arrested and charged within the last year.

 

“Our investigators wrapped up 2012 with 125 convictions of employers, injured workers, providers, and others who committed fraud against the State Insurance Fund,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “Their work helps keep employers from having to cover the cost of fraudulent claims, non-payment of premium, illegal billing, or any other illicit schemes designed to cheat the system.”

 

Among those who ran afoul of the law for a variety of offenses:

 

Eric Renzhofer, dba ARS Construction Inc., (Bowling Green, Wood County) was found guilty Dec. 3 of workers comp fraud for altering his coverage certificate. SID received an allegation from a premium auditor that Renzhofer may be altering a certificate of coverage. While conducting an audit on an unrelated case, the auditor noticed the policy number listed did not match ARS Construction, Inc. The Employer Fraud team investigation found that Renzhofer altered a certificate belonging to another business to make it appear that his business (ARS Construction) had active coverage. Renzhofer confessed to altering the certificate and cooperated by providing business records to determine the premiums he owed. Renzhofer was ordered to pay fines of $250 and restitution.

 

Eugene Vaughn (Spencer, Medina County) was found guilty Dec. 28 on five felony counts of deception to obtain a dangerous drug after he was discovered doctor shopping. A pharmacy contacted SID and advised that Vaughn was receiving prescriptions from multiple insurers, including BWC. SID worked with the Medina County Drug Task Force on the investigation, which found Vaughn obtained narcotics from different doctors during the same prescription cycle, including prescription drugs paid by BWC. Vaughn also used multiple pharmacies to fill these prescriptions. Vaughn was sentenced in the Medina County Common Pleas Court to three years general supervision by the Adult Parole Authority, drug screening, and continued drug treatment. Vaughn’s driver’s license was suspended for six months with work privileges upon request. He must have only one prescribing doctor with those prescriptions verified by Adult Parole Authority.

 

Victor Figueroa (Columbus, Franklin County) pleaded guilty Dec. 13 to one count of workers comp fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID’s Intelligence Unit detected that Figueroa was earning wages from multiple employers during periods he was collecting Temporary Total disability benefits from BWC. The investigation found Figueroa worked for Fairfield Insulation and Qualiteck, Inc. while collecting these benefits. Figueroa was ordered to pay restitution of $9,653.70 and he paid in full at the sentencing. He was also sentenced to one day in jail, suspended for time served.

 

Danny Albert (Columbus, Franklin County) pleaded guilty Dec. 17 to one misdemeanor count of workers comp fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID received an allegation that Albert was working for Southeast Mental Health as a Resident Specialist while he was receiving benefits and was prohibited from working. The investigation found Albert was in fact employed with Southeast, Inc, and Stevens Building Services while receiving Living Maintenance and Temporary Total benefits. Evidence obtained during the investigation also showed that Albert intentionally misrepresented and withheld employment activity in order to continue collecting these benefits. Albert was sentenced to 180 days in jail, suspended for 12 months of community control, and ordered to pay $7,051.75 in restitution.

 

Sheldon Greene (Middletown, Butler County) pleaded guilty Dec. 6 to one felony count of workers comp fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID received an allegation that Greene had returned to work at Michael’s Dining and Jazz restaurant in Dayton. The investigation found Greene was working at Michael’s Dining and Jazz restaurant as a chef and was operating his own catering company, Liberty City BBQ, in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas while receiving BWC disability benefits. Greene appeared in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas and the judge terminated the case after he repaid BWC $9,992.28.

 

Jerry Adams, dba Quaker Pool & Spa, (Calcutta, Columbiana) was found guilty Dec. 13 of one felony count of fraud for allowing his workers comp insurance coverage to lapse. BWC’s Employer Compliance Department attempted to work with Adams, owner of Quaker Pool & Spa, after he allowed his coverage to lapse. After multiple attempts, Adams still failed to submit outstanding payroll reports and the case was turned over to SID for a fraud investigation. Employer fraud team agents met with Adams and his accountant on multiple occasions and facilitated the receipt of all but one of the outstanding payroll reports. Adams was given instructions on how to request a payment plan in order to get the policy reinstated. However, Adams again failed to follow through. Adams paid $4,226.34 as a down payment and signed a Payment Plan with the Attorney General’s Special Counsel agreeing to pay the remaining balance of $11,495.50 over the course of the next year. His sentencing is scheduled for February 21, 2013.

 

Anil Nalluri, MD (Youngstown, Mahoning County) pleaded guilty Dec. 13 to one misdemeanor count of workers comp fraud for billing for services not rendered. SID began investigating Nalluri in 2003 after receiving a complaint from an injured worker that he was providing only 10 minutes of psychotherapy services during what was supposed to be a 45 minute session. The injured worker confronted Nalluri about the lack of care and Nalluri informed the patient that he would receive payment from BWC regardless of the treatment provided. Nalluri later removed the injured worker from treatment at the office and failed to provide the patient his medical records when requested. Agents conducted an undercover operation and observed several patients exiting the office very soon after arriving. An agent also posed as a patient, visiting Nalluri 12 times and capturing video supporting the allegation, including an appointment that lasted one minute. In another instance, BWC was billed for a 20 – 30 minute psychotherapy session that video showed lasted three and a half minutes and consisted primarily of discussions about the economy. After the undercover operation concluded, investigators conducted interviews with Nalluria’s employees and patients. A number of patients reported the services they received were less than adequate and often lasted just enough time for Nalluri to write a prescription. Nalluri was paid $71,669.62 in restitution and investigative costs. He was also voluntarily decertified as a BWC provider.

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 


Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation Award $153,000 in Safety Grants

 

Ohio BWC Awards Safety Intervention Grants to State Businesses
 
The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) recently awarded safety intervention grants to five Ohio businesses totaling more than $153,000.
 
BWC designed the Safety Intervention Grant Program to assist Ohio employers in reducing illnesses and injuries and to create a partnership with them to establish best practices for accident and injury prevention.
 
 
Safety Grants Available to Protect Wellbeing of Workers
 
"Safety grants are available to businesses in any industry looking to protect the health and wellbeing of their workers," said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. "Many employers find their purchase allows for sometimes the simplest of adjustments that can make a tremendous difference in the number of injuries and corresponding costs associated with claims."
 
Ohio private and public employers are eligible for safety intervention grants, which include a 2-to-1 matching amount up to a maximum of $40,000 for a total of $60,000 – $20,000 from the employer and $40,000 from BWC. Quarterly data reports and follow-up case studies help BWC determine the effectiveness of employers" safety interventions and establish best practices.
 
 
The following are a list of businesses that received grants from BWC:.
 
City of Girard Fire Dept. (Trumbull County)
BWC awarded $38,570 to purchase an exhaust removal system to reduce carcinogens from diesel exhaust. The City of Girard Fire Department is a public employer that provides fire suppression and emergency medical services to the city's 10,000 residents and thousands of workers.
 
Bowlin Energy LLC (Hamilton County)
BWC awarded $40,000 to purchase battery powered crimping tools and hydraulic tampers to reduce the risk of strains, sprains and carpal tunnel syndrome resulting from forceful exertions and awkward postures. Bowlin Energy is a private utility employer that repairs and replaces overhead power lines and supporting power poles.
 
Peerless Saw Company (Franklin County)
BWC awarded $40,000 to purchase a precision leveling machine to perform saw blade flattening. The purchase will reduce ergonomic risk factors associated with manual hammering, including injury to the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder. Peerless Saw Company manufactures custom circular saws.
 
SMI Crankshaft LLC (Seneca County)
BWC awarded $22,078 to purchase a vibratory finishing machine to reduce the risk of injury from vibration, repetitive motion, and awkward postures. The machine will also reduce eye injuries resulting from metal particles. SMI Crankshaft is a finishing operation that produces precision crankshafts from raw forgings and castings.
 
Buckeye Power Sales (Franklin County)
BWC awarded $12, 754 to purchase 30 hoist systems to reduce the risk of sprains and strains resulting from manual material handling. Buckeye Power Sales sells, delivers and services power generation systems. This grant was awarded through a partnership between BWC and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to research how to create safer work environments for employees working in the wholesale/retail trade, and other sectors that perform delivery, installation, receiving or material handling tasks.
 
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.
 
©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

Prison Doors Slamming Shut Is Strong Reminder Workers Comp Fraud Does Not Pay

 

To Repay More Than $30,000
 
Keith Miller of Grove City (Franklin County), Ohio was recently ordered to pay restitution to the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) after he admitted to altering paperwork he submitted to request injured worker benefits. Miller pleaded guilty in a Franklin County courtroom and must repay more than $30,000.
 
According to BWC officials, Miller was receiving Living Maintenance Wage Loss, which is available to an injured worker who has completed a rehabilitation plan but continues to have physical restrictions and experiences a wage loss upon return to work.
 
 
Statements Had Conflicting Work Dates
 
BWC's Special Investigations Department received an allegation in 2010 that the wage statements Miller submitted to request compensation appeared to be suspicious. The statements had conflicting work dates and appeared to have been altered.
 
Investigators interviewed Miller and his employer, and he ultimately admitted to altering the statement forms and submitting false payroll records in order to receive benefits.
 
"It can be frustrating for someone who can work following an injury but faces employment at a lower wage," said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. "Living Maintenance can help close that gap, but is clearly not justified if submitting false information is the only way to gain approval."
 
 
7 Months in Prison, 5 Year Community Control, $30K Fine
 
Miller pleaded guilty to one felony count of workers comp fraud was sentenced to seven months in prison, suspended for a five-year period of community control. He was also ordered to pay $30,240.31 in restitution.
 
 
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.
 
©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

Ohio Worker Guilty of Workers Comp Fraud

Surveillance Caught Injured Worker Replacing Roof

 

An Ohio man was recently sentenced for fraud after pleading guilty to working as a landscaper and roofer while receiving workers comp benefits. The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) conducted a surveillance operation and caught Thomas Hofus on camera replacing a roof.

 

“Workers comp is intended for those who cannot return to work while recovering from an injury, however, surveillance by our investigators showed Mr. Hofus was clearly capable of physical work,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “BWC remains committed to putting a stop to cases like this that place employer dollars in the hands of those who are not honestly representing their ability to work.”

 

 

Receiving Temporary Total Disability

 

BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) acted on an allegation that Hofus was operating a curbing and landscaping business called World Class Curbing while he was receiving temporary total disability benefits for a prior workplace injury. Witness interviews, a review of financial records and surveillance videos confirmed he returned to work in violation with those benefits.

 

The evidence showed Hofus operated as a sales person at home and garden shows, provided on-site estimates for customers, supervised employees at job sites and participated in much of the physical work associated with landscaping and roofing.

 

 

Pleaded Guilty to Fifth Degree Felony

 

Hofus pleaded guilty to one count of workers comp fraud, a fifth degree felony, in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. He was ordered to pay restitution of $12,662.17 and sentenced to one year incarceration, suspended for three years of community control.

 

Terms of his probation include a substance abuse evaluation, any follow-up treatment recommended, and a requirement to maintain employment.

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 


Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation Prosecutes 10 in Work Comp Fraud

10 Individuals Caught Defrauding Ohio's Workers Comp System

 

Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer recently announced 10 individuals were convicted or pleaded guilty to charges related to defrauding Ohio's workers comp system during August.

 

The court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC's special investigations department (SID). The department works to deter, detect, investigate and prosecute workers compensation fraud.

 

 

Workers That Break Law Will Be Pursued With Criminal Charges

 

"While Ohio workers injured on the job will receive the care they need regardless of whether employers have paid their premiums, employers must make it a priority to maintain a policy in accordance with the law," said Buehrer. "Likewise, workers filing false claims, exaggerating injury or working while receiving benefits are breaking the law and BWC will pursue criminal charges accordingly."

 

 

A summary of the cases that resulted in a guilty plea or conviction during August follows.

 

 

Allowed Coverage to Lapse

 

Keesh Edwards, dba Keesh Inc., (Cincinnati, Hamilton County) – Pleaded guilty to a felony count of workers comp fraud for allowing his businesses' workers comp coverage to lapse. BWC's employer fraud team received a referral from the finance department after banks refused to honor the checks he submitted to pay his premium. The investigation found that the employer had not submitted the required semi annual payroll reports since July 1, 2009. The owner, Keesh Edwards, was notified of the check denials and missing payroll reports. Edwards subsequently submitted some of the missing reports, but failed to make any payments for the lapsed coverage periods or the denied check. The employer continued to operate the business with employees without the required BWC coverage. A jury trial began Aug. 8 but Edwards changed his plea to guilty prior to the start of the second day of trial. Sentencing will be scheduled for this month. The total premium and penalty amount owed was $43,235.99.

 

 

Filed a False Claim

 

Travis Ametrano (Findlay, Hancock County) – Pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of workers comp fraud for filing a false claim. Ametrano alleged he was injured when he slipped on ice while walking into work. SID opened an investigation in February after receiving an allegation that Ametrano was actually injured during an indoor soccer game hours before reporting to work and allegedly falling. Agents interviewed referees and the scorekeeper from the game prior to his alleged injury. The interviews positively identified Ametrano by photograph as a player that injured his leg during a game on Sunday, the day before the reported injury. He initially denied having sustained any type of injury or having any physical issues during the soccer game. He later admitted that what the witnesses had reported was accurate but stated that he had suffered an injury not identified in his claim. BWC denied Ametrano's claim based on the investigative findings. Ametrano pleaded guilty Aug. 8 in the Findlay Municipal Court and was sentenced to a 30 day suspended jail sentence. He must also pay fines of $250.

 

 

Working While Receiving Benefits

 

Chester Fusco (Ashtabula, Ashtabula County) – Pleaded guilty Aug. 7 to working while receiving benefits. SID received an allegation through BWC's website indicating Fusco operates a snowplow in the winter and is paid in cash for his services. Surveillance, witness interviews and business and bank records revealed he worked independently as a subcontractor, for Cooper Contracting and Bauer Construction between November 2008 and February 2011. Fusco plowed commercial properties for these companies while receiving temporary total disability benefits. Fusco had previously completed a settlement agreement for his BWC claim with the Ohio Attorney General's Office representing the BWC; however, this did not preclude a criminal referral based on the investigation. Fusco pleaded guilty Aug. 7 in a Franklin County Common Pleas courtroom. He was sentenced to six months in jail, suspended for five years of community control. He must also pay restitution of $10,588.14.

 

 

Anthony Perry (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County) – Pleaded guilty Aug. 27 to one felony count of workers' compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. BWC investigators acted on a tip that Perry was employed while receiving temporary total and living maintenance disability benefits. The investigation found that Perry had returned to work as a self employed landscaper and snowplow operator. He used his own landscaping equipment to do yard work and mow grass for residential and commercial customers, and hired staff to assist. Perry was ordered to pay $41,644.28 in restitution and serve three years of community control.

 

 

Faked Injury to Receive Benefits

 

Robin Hammond and Randy Hammond (Galion, Crawford County) – Each pleaded guilty to fraud for their roles in a scheme to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits Robin claimed she needed following a workplace injury. Robin Hammond was a nurse's aide and claimed a workplace injury left her unable to use her arms and legs and without fine motor skills in her hands and feet. Based on her diagnosis, she was granted permanent total disability and BWC paid for special medical equipment. SID opened an investigation into Hammond after receiving allegation that she was not as injured as she claimed to be, and was engaged in physical activity. Surveillance video showed she visited her doctors in a wheelchair but demonstrated full use of all four limbs, walking without assistance after leaving her appointments. The couple fled the state after being interviewed by investigators. Attorney General Mike DeWine's office issued a nationwide warrant for their arrest and they were located in Hurricane, Utah. Robin Hammond pleaded guilty to one felony count of workers comp fraud and was and sentenced to one year in prison with judicial release possible after six months. Randy Hammond pleaded guilty to one felony count of complicity and received five years of community control. The couple was ordered to repay BWC $173,332.09.

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Ohio BWC Awards More Than $265K in Employer Workplace Safety Grants

 

The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) recently awarded safety intervention grants totaling more than $265,000 to Ohio employer. BWC designed the Safety Intervention Grant Program to assist Ohio employers in reducing illnesses and injuries and to create a partnership with them to establish best practices for accident and injury prevention.
 
"The biggest impact of these grants will be in helping the recipients' employees avoid injuries resulting from the manual handling of material," said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. "Repetitive motion while handling materials can cause long-term health issues, and I applaud these companies for taking ergonomics into consideration and making the changes necessary to protect their workers."
 
Ohio private and public employers are eligible for safety intervention grants, which include a 2-to-1 matching amount up to a maximum of $40,000 for a total of $60,000 – $20,000 from the employer and $40,000 from BWC. Quarterly data reports and follow-up case studies help BWC determine the effectiveness of employers’ safety interventions and establish best practices.
 
The following are a list of businesses that received grants from BWC:
 
Auto Gate Inc. (Erie County)
 
BWC awarded $40,000 to purchase an enclosed paint booth to reduce the risk of injury related to chemical exposure from spray painting. Auto Gate manufactures security gates and fencing for business and residential.
 
Cheeseman LLC (Mercer County)
 
BWC awarded $40,000 to purchase dock plates and repair damaged dock positions to reduce the risk of injury from slips, trips and falls; cuts and lacerations; and manual material handling while loading and unloading product from trucks. Cheeseman LLC is a leading provider in less-than-truckload and truckload services.
 
 
Cincinnati Preserving Company, dba Clearbrook Farms (Hamilton County)
 
BWC awarded $7,344.67 to purchase a vacuum lift system and freestanding workstation jib crane to reduce the risk of injury related to manual material handling, forceful exertions and deficient postures. Cincinnati Preserving has produced fruit preserves and pie fillings since 1924.
 
 
Frost Roofing Inc. (Auglaize County)
 
BWC awarded $17,640.05 to purchase Accutrac, Accuseam and Rhinotrac tools to reduce the ergonomic risk factors related to repetitive motion and awkward postures as insulation and roofing membrane are installed with screws and plates. Frost Roofing is a full service-roofing contractor for both residential and commercial fields.
 
 
Leonard Williams Masonry Inc. (Licking County)
 
BWC awarded $39,995.66 to purchase a hydraulic scaffolding to reduce the risk of injury such as sprains and strains, which are related to manual material handling that occurs while workers erect scaffolding by hand. Leonard Williams Masonry provides residential and commercial masonry work.
 
 
Oxford Township (Tuscarawas County)
 
BWC awarded $36,633.60 to purchase a pothole-patching machine to reduce the ergonomic risk factors, such as strains and sprains, associated with manual material handling while repairing streets and roadways. Oxford Township is a public employer providing street repair and maintenance services to the township.
 
 
SCS Construction Services Inc. (Hamilton County)
 
BWC awarded $39,795.13 to purchase a self-propelled scraper, electric scaffold, wall/floor scanner, drywall screw guns, reciprocating saws, rotary hammer kits, Cutquik Cart for cutoff saw, dual disc floor grinder and powered carpet puller. These items will help reduce the risk of injury related to manual material handling. SCS provides commercial construction, demolition and remodeling services.
 
 
Spring Meadows Extended Care Facility (Lucas County)
 
BWC awarded $3,996.66 to purchase a pivot assist to reduce the risk of injury such as sprains and strains related to manual patient handling. Spring Meadows is a 100 bed skilled nursing, longer-term care and rehabilitation facility.
 
 
Troy Innovative Instruments Inc. (Geauga County)
 
BWC awarded $40,000 to purchase an automated passivation and cleaning unit to reduce the risk of injury related to repetitive motion and awkward postures, in addition to citric or nitric acid exposure. Troy Innovative is a manufacturer of medical implants and instruments.

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation Obtains Grant for Workplace Safety Program

 

Grant Aims to Increase Workplace Safety
 
The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) has been awarded a grant by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to participate in a program that aims to increase workplace safety by compiling nationwide statistics on occupational injuries and illnesses.
 
Abe Al-Tarawneh, BWC's Superintendent of Safety and Hygiene, reported to the BWC board of directors the $117,000 grant to include Ohio in the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), the largest occupational injury and illness surveillance system in the country.
 
 
 
Will Allow for More Comprehensive Understanding of Occupational Injuries
 
"BWC's participation will allow for a more comprehensive understanding of the nature and extent of occupational injuries and illness in Ohio, as well as benchmark our prevention efforts against the rest of the nation," said Al-Tarawneh. "BWC’s Division of Safety and Hygiene is taking a more active role in conducting research to analyze industry trends, as well as how and why injuries occur, because we will be most effective in taking action when we know the factors surrounding those injuries."
 
The 50 percent matching grant will assist BWC in distributing surveys to 4,000 Ohio employers to collect specific information surrounding injuries and days away from work. This data will be analyzed to publish research reports specific to Ohio at the end of each year. Ohio will also be included in the analyses of nationwide trends in occupational injuries and illnesses.
 
 
 
Data Used to Identify and Correct Safety Hazards
 
SOII currently has 44 participating states and territories and the data covers most private-sector industries, as well as state and local government. The data is utilized by employers and employees, policymakers, safety inspectors, health and safety consultants, and researchers for a number of reasons, including identifying and correcting safety hazards to reduce injuries.
 
 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Ok, I Did It. Ohio Convicts Eight Individuals from Guilty Pleas in Workers Comp Fraud

 

Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer recently announced eight individuals were convicted of or pleaded guilty to charges related to defrauding Ohio's workers compensation system during June.
 
The court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC's special investigations department (SID). The department works to deter, detect, investigate and prosecute workers comp fraud. [WCx]
 
A sampling of cases that resulted in a guilty plea or conviction during June is as follows:
 
Kelly Hart (Diamond, Portage County) pleaded guilty June 12 to two counts of theft for working while receiving benefits. An allegation indicated Hart was working while receiving temporary total disability benefits. Investigators found Hart returned to employment as a car detailer for Just the Details LLC while receiving benefits. The business owner and Hart himself confirmed his employment. Hart was sentenced to 18 months prison, suspended for five years of Community Control. He was ordered to pay $4,861.91 in restitution and $500 in investigative costs as a condition of his community control.
 
Ronald J. Richards (Weirton, West Virginia) pleaded guilty June 12 to one count of theft for working while receiving benefits. Richards was awarded temporary total and living maintenance benefits after he was injured as a truck driver for Riley Petroleum Products LLC in Toronto (Jefferson County). Working on a tip, investigators found he was employed as a truck driver for Bee Mack Trucking in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, while receiving these benefits. Richards was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $5,153.05 and sentenced to 180 days incarceration suspended for 36 months of community control. The judge also ordered him to maintain viable employment and will serve an immediate 30 day sentence if he misses a single restitution payment.
 
Robert T. Howland (Millersburg, Holmes County) pleaded guilty June 12 to one count of theft for working while receiving benefits. SID received an allegation from a BWC claims service specialist that Howland may be working for the Robinson Country Inn/Hotel in Millersburg while receiving Living Maintenance benefits. These payments are available to an injured worker instead of Temporary Total Disability while he or she is actively involved in an approved rehabilitation program. The claims service specialist submitted the tip after reviewing a pay stub submitted by Howland and suspecting he may be receiving wages from the hotel. The investigation confirmed that Howland did work for the hotel performing kitchen duties in conflict with his collection of benefits. Howland was ordered to pay restitution of $5,928.43. He was also sentenced to 90 days of incarceration suspended for 60 months of community control. [WCx]
 
Benjamin Lawrence (Covington, Kentucky) pleaded guilty June 4 to one count of workers comp fraud for filing a false claim. Lawrence was allegedly injured on the job and was receiving benefits until a co-worker secretly taped him confessing to faking the injury. The co-worker supplied the employer with the tape, in which Lawrence states he purposely injured himself and knowingly filed a false claim. He also brags that he was able to receive pain pills. Lawrence pleaded guilty to one count of workers comp fraud in a Franklin County courtroom and the judge ordered him to pay restitution of $2,057.92 to BWC. He will serve 180 days in jail he does not pay the full amount by Oct. 1, 2012. He paid $500 towards his restitution the day of sentencing.
 
 
 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

60 Percent of Work Comp Claims Preventable Slips, Trips, and Falls

 

The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) recently wrapped up National Safety Month with tips for preventing some of the most common workplace injuries. BWC claims data show that more than 60-percent of Ohio's lost-time injury claims were caused by preventable slips, trips and falls and overexertion.
 
"Preventing the most common injuries can be as simple as maintaining good house-keeping practices, using slip resistant shoes, eliminating lifting tasks and training employees on proper lifting techniques," said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. "Attentive employers can make a few minor changes at minimal cost that can significantly increase safety in the workplace and provide the added benefits of healthy, productive workers and lower workers' compensation premiums." [WCx]
 
Thirty percent of lost-time injury claims result from slips, trips and falls. They are largely associated with slipping on ice/snow, water/grease and tripping over objects. Overexertion is a cause associated with more than 30 percent of all lost-time injury claims, mostly related to lifting, pushing and pulling, bending and twisting, repetitive motions, and awkward postures. Fifty-four percent of lost-time injury claims resulting from overexertion are associated with lifting and pushing and pulling tasks.
 
There are several simple solutions that can prevent injuries caused by slips, trips and falls:
  • Establish good house-keeping practices;
  • Fix poor lighting;
  • Keep floors and stairs clean and free of objects;
  • Clean slippery surfaces (wet, oily, icy) regularly;
  • Cover hoses and cords or run them out of the path of walking areas;
  • Don't allow aisles to become cluttered;
  • Establish a procedure for regularly sweeping granular or powdered material;
  • Wear slip resistant footwear;
  • Repair uneven surfaces (such as cracks or holes).

Solutions to preventing injuries caused by overexertion include:
  • Reduce forceful exertions;
  • Reduce manual material handling and eliminate manual lifting by using convey-ors, hoists, lift-assist devices, lift gates on trucks, and other mechanical means;
  • Reduce the weight of objects to be lifted;
  • Lift with the legs not the back;
  • Use handles on objects to be lifted;
  • Reduce the frequency and distances of lifts;
  • Bend the tool, not the wrist;
  • Minimize reaching. Locate frequently used items as close to you as possible;
  • Reduce mechanical pressure on soft tissues;
  • Add padding to tools;
  • Use cushioned chairs;
  • Use floor mats.  [WCx] 

 

BWC safety consultants provide on-site services to help implement injury-prevention solutions like these in Ohio workplaces. Employers can visit ohiobwc.com or call 1-800-OHIOBWC to request the services of a safety consultant at no additional cost. 
 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

OSHA Cites Cleveland Employer for Worker Safety Violations $124,740

The U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited Ohio-based Falls Stamping and Welding Co. with a total of 19 safety and health violations including one willful and three repeat offenses. OSHA began an inspection after receiving a complaint alleging a failure to lock out and tag out machinery energy sources at the company's Cleveland metal stamping facility, which exposed workers to amputation hazards. Proposed penalties total $124,740.

 
 
The willful violation has been cited for failing to ensure workers who lock out machinery, such as mechanical power presses, were trained in lockout and tagout procedures. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. [WCx]
 
 
The repeat violations include failing to provide machine guarding for equipment including lathes and shears, ensure that hand controls on mechanical power presses were in a fixed position to prevent workers from relocating them and ensure that safety blocks were used when changing the press die. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar violations were cited at the company's Cuyahoga Falls facility in 2009.
 
 
Seven serious safety violations involve failing to develop and document machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures, provide a periodic review of energy control procedures for the mechanical power presses, ensure that guards were in place on the maintenance department grinder, provide safety blocks for workers making adjustments and repairs to a mechanical power press, and ensure that the power cable for horizontal band saw had effective strain relief.
 
 
Four serious health violations include failing to perform a required workplace hazard assessment, train workers in the use of portable fire extinguishers, implement a hazard communication training program and evaluate powered industrial truck operators for competency. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
 
 
Four other-than-serious health violations involve failing to label bottles of oil with their contents and hazard warnings, affix a plate to indicate the load rating for the mezzanine storage level and include a list of hazardous chemicals used in the company's hazard communication program. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
 
 
"Failing to train workers in proper lockout and tagout procedures of energy sources in a manufacturing environment places workers at risk of amputations and other serious injuries," said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland. "Employers cited with repeat violations demonstrate a lack of attention to employee safety and health. OSHA is committed to protecting workers on the job, especially when employers fail to do so."
 
 
Due to the willful and repeat violations and the nature of the hazards, OSHA has placed Falls Stamping and Welding Co. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. [WCx]
 
 
Prior to this inspection, the first at the company's Cleveland location, Falls Stamping and Welding Co. Cuyahoga Falls facility had been inspected by OSHA 19 times.
 
 

Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He is an editor and contributor to Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com
MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  
www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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