We would like to officially announce our 2017 Scholarship winner, Kevin Johnson!
4,836. That’s the number of deaths on the job in 2015. 50,000. That’s the estimated number of workers who die from an occupational illness. The death toll of jobs in America is, thankfully, small relative to the past and less developed countries, due to both the passage of laws mandating workplace safety and a shift in the job market towards white collar and service-based jobs, as opposed to manufacturing or factory labor. That shift has reduced the death toll, but unfortunately, injuries on the job will always occur. The ability of a state to respond to workers compensation cases and the regulations that handle them is important to preserve the sanctity of life and enable those who were injured on the job a form of compensation for their suffering.
Ohio is the 7th most populous state in the United States and almost 20% of Ohio’s output is from manufacturing. Given the relatively large amount of manufacturing an effective method for addressing workers compensation cases is important. Ohio has, in my opinion, developed an effective policy to treat workers comp cases that adequately protects both sides. Ohio utilizes a single payer system, claims are filed through the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation, or BWC, a public department funded through premiums paid by companies. The use of a single payer system is rare within the United States to treat workers compensation cases, most states simply have a private insurance market for businesses.
Businesses each purchase separate insurance packages and utilize their own insurance in the case of a workplace injury. However, this is a system that is inherently flawed, as insurance companies often prefer to pay for lawyers to contest claims as opposed to paying the claim to save money. That means that workers who were legitimately injured on the job won’t be compensated simply due to an insurance company’s pursuit of profit as opposed to the BWC which has no such incentive protecting employees.
Another feature of the BWC that distinguishes it from insurance companies and even most government department is the rapid response to claims; a response is provided within 28 days of the claim being filed. The short time frame allows for the BWC to provide assistance relatively quickly in the case that medical bills are exorbitantly expensive or living expenses greatly exceed the savings of the injured worker. However, the 28 days are still sufficient for investigation of the claim filed by the injured worker in order to prevent fraud. Since the BWC acts as the major provider of protection it sets the time period in which claims can be made, 2 years after the onset of a disability due to an occupational disease, and automatically closed claims after 6 years. These two conditions that manage the period for which a claim can be filed are an effective measure to protect employees who are injured, without allowing for an exorbitant period of time to pass before a claim is filed.
Holistically, I believe that the Ohio laws regarding workers compensation cases and specifically the main mechanism for paying out claims, the BWC, tend to be more lenient regarding employee protection. I tend, however, to believe that this is an appropriate policy as protecting and reimbursing employee not only protects those who are hurt but ensures that companies and the BWC isn’t viewed in a negative capacity which would interfere with investigations conducted by the BWC and likely result in reduced worker productivity. Therefore, the leniency that is attained through Ohio laws is an appropriate balance to protect both employers and employees from injuries that may occur.