COLUMBUS — The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Thursday proposed a 20 percent reduction in the average premium rate it charges private employers, which would be its largest rate cut in nearly 60 years if approved by the agency’s board of directors.
BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud told board members fewer workplace injuries and falling estimates of future medical costs are driving her recommendation to lower rates for the ninth time since 2008.
“We’re pleased Ohio employers recognize that workplace safety is vital to the health of their workforce, their businesses and our state’s economy,” said McCloud. “Their efforts to promote safe and healthy workplaces are clearly paying off, and they’re making it easier for us to maintain low and stable workers’ compensation rates now and into the future.”
If approved by the board at its meeting Feb. 22, the rate reduction would be effective July 1 and save private employers $244 million over premiums for fiscal year 2019. The proposed cut would follow a 12 percent reduction last year and a pattern of no increases since 2006. It would also follow a 12 percent rate reduction for public employers — counties, cities, schools and others — that went into effect Jan. 1.
Overall, the average rate levels for the 242,000 Ohio employers in the BWC system are at their lowest in at least 40 years.
Premiums paid to BWC not only cover health care and wages for injured workers, they support BWC’s Safety & Hygiene Division, which offers grants, training, consultations and other services to help employers improve workplace safety. Employer participation in these services has grown by more than 70 percent since 2010. Claims, meanwhile, have fallen 18 percent over that time to 85,136 in 2018, according to the BWC.
The proposed 20 percent rate cut represents an average statewide change. The actual premium paid by individual private employers depends on a number of factors, including the expected future claims costs in their industry, their company’s recent claims history and their participation in various BWC rebate programs.