Scioto County to get over $5 million back

By Mark Richard

Safety pays off, literally.

Southern Ohio businesses received a check Thursday morning from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation in the amount of $17 million. The amount was based on a decrease in the amount of claims, as well as good investment numbers over the past year.

Of the counties in the southern Ohio region, Scioto brought home the largest check with $5,027,639 in rebates. Other counties receiving rebates included Adams, $1,385,091; Gallia, $1,682,808; Lawrence, $2,130,705; Jackson, $1,648,164; Pike, $1,614,102; and Ross, $3,471,082.

Bob Braun, BWC Regional Business Development Manager said it is the agency’s job to protect its customers, which are the employees and employers. He said making sure the employer is protected in the event of a work related injury as well as the well being of the employee is their number one goal.

The rebates come as the result of a $1.5 billion rebate to Ohio’s employers this summer, which marks the fourth rebate since 2013 and the largest in 20 years.

“BWC is pleased to present the region’s employers with $17 million they can use to strengthen and grow their businesses, Braun said. “While the money is theirs to spend as they see fit, we encourage employers to invest in workplace safety measures that prevent injuries and reduce their workers’ comp costs.”

The presentation took place at the Portsmouth/Scioto County Visitors Center and was hosted by the Portsmouth Area Chamber of Commerce. Chamber Executive Director Lisa Carver accepted the ceremonial check saying she hopes all those receiving rebates will use the money to promote safety within their respective organizations. “This is a huge impact on our economy,” Carver said. “I encourage you to re-invest this money into safety programs.”

Those on hand representing entities that will receive a rebate included Scott Dutey, superintendent of Portsmouth City Schools, Brian Rau, superintendent of Manchester Local Schools, Sgt. Joe Shuppert of the Portsmouth Police Department and Michael Zirkle, corporate safety director of Tri America Contractors.

Zirkle praised the local BWC office, saying they are wonderful to work with. He noted a recent conversation he had with them in regards to a safety grant, saying it wasn’t like most grant applications he was used to. He said BWC has simplified the application process, making it very customer friendly and said the local staff are very supportive and helpful.

Braun said injury claims have seen a 20 percent reduction saying workplace safety has been improving. He said he is very excited to bring the money to southern Ohio. “We care about our employees…and we care about our employers.”

According to a press release from BWC, most rebates amount to 85 percent of the employer’s premium for the policy year ending June 30, 2017. BWC expect all checks to be mailed by early August.

According to the release, the rebate will also include a $44 million state-wide investment in workplace safety as well. According to Braun, BWC will increase the Safety Intervention Grant Program from $15 million up to $20 million for each of the next two years. As part of that increase, $4 million for Ohio police as well as $4 million for schools. This is in addition to $2million each for state agencies and the continuation of funding research at Ohio higher education institutions and research organizations.

By Mark Richard