Safety Intervention Grants: Ohio Agency Declares War on Work Injuries
Ohio’s workers’ compensation program was 100 years old this year – one of the oldest in the country – proclaims the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation website. The BWC is the state agency that administers the Ohio workers’ compensation benefit program for workers injured on the job or with occupational diseases.
Broadly, workers with covered workers compensation claims normally have their related medical bills paid, and may be eligible for some combination of lost wages, awards for temporary or permanent disabilities, lump-sum settlements, advance payments to cover expenses like legal fees or living expenses, vocational rehabilitation services and more. In addition, death benefits may be available to people who were dependent on workers killed by work-related injuries or illnesses.
Safety Intervention Grants
In addition to seeing that injured workers and their families receive the benefits they deserve, the BWC is all about preventing work-related injuries and diseases in the first place. To this end, the BWC’s Safety Intervention Grant program invests millions of dollars – also called SafetyGRANT$ – annually in safer worksites.
The grants to eligible public and private employers are to purchase equipment to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses. The agency will match every dollar the employer spends with a two-dollar grant, up to $40,000 total from the BWC.
Examples of grant purchases approved in the current fiscal year:
- A variety of special ergonomically friendly equipment to improve awkward postures and to lessen the risk of repetitive motion injuries, pinches, musculoskeletal disorders, sprains and strains
- More user-friendly tools with less chances of causing slips and falls
- Machinery to lessen exposure to extreme force, dangerous minerals and dust, risk of cuts, and excessive noise or vibration
- Apparatus to enhance safety for tasks performed at elevated heights
Criteria for employer participation:
- Contribution to the Ohio State Insurance Fund
- Active coverage by the fund
- Currency on fund premiums
- Proven need for “safety intervention”
- Quarterly safety updates to BWC
- Case study to BWC after one year
- Verification of grant money expenditures
If an employer is later disqualified, the BWC may request the return of the grant money. Where appropriate, the bill may be referred to the Ohio Attorney General for collection or other legal action.
If you are an Ohio employer wanting to improve safety in your workplace, consider contacting the BWC about the safety grant program and an experienced workers compensation attorney to learn about your responsibilities under the law. A worker with a job-related injury or occupational disease, or a family member of an employee killed on the job or who died from a work-related condition, should get informed legal advice as soon as possible to preserve his or her rights under workers’ compensation and any other applicable laws.