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News and Updates

Do I Need to Hire a Safety Professional?

Do I Need to Hire a Safety Professional

Posted By Brandy King
February 20, 2023 Category: General

  It’s always important to have an easily-accessible and competent safety management resource, whether it’s a full-time member of your staff or a trusted third-party consultant.  For some companies, an internal Safety or EHS Manager is just as essential as their Operations or Finance Manager.  Other companies, such as those in relatively low-hazard industries, can sometimes get away with assigning safety as a secondary duty to internal staff.  Those multiple-hat-wearing employees should have a decent grasp of basic safety management concepts and a solid understanding of the OSHA standards applicable to their operations.  They will often seek the expertise of, and work in tandem with, a third-party safety consultant for periodic efforts such as compliance audits, program development, OSHA inspection assistance, or anything else that might be out of their wheelhouse. If you’re considering the addition of a safety professional to your team, the list below might help shed some light on your situation.  Or, maybe your company is one of many that hasn’t yet realized that this applies to you!  Either way, take a moment to reflect: Consider your size and industry: companies with 200+ total employees – especially in a higher-hazard industry, such as in OSHA’s list of NAICS codes covered by the Injury/Illness Recordkeeping Rule – should already have an internal Safety Manager. The hazards posed to empl

2023 Spooner Safety Seminars Announced

2023 Spooner Safety Seminars Announced

Posted By Brandy King
February 20, 2023 Category: Safety Training, 2 Hour Training, Ohio Bwc, Spooner Safety Series

*ATTENTION 2022 PY Group and Group Retro Clients* The Spooner Safety Seminars are back on the road! All employers are welcome to attend these informative workplace safety seminars. The training sessions will satisfy BWC’s 2-hour safety training requirement for companies participating in Group Rating or Group Retrospective Rating for the 2022 policy year. Cleveland Area April 18, 2023 from 10 am -12 pm at Holiday Inn, 6001 Rockside Road, Independence, OH  44131 - Click here to register Dayton/Cincinnati Area April 19, 2023 from 10am - 12 pm at Hilton Garden Inn Dayton South-Austin Landing, 12000 Innovation Drive, Miamisburg, OH  45342 - Click here to register Columbus Area April 19, 2023 from 3pm -5 pm at Embassy Suites, 5100 Upper Metro Place, Dublin, OH  43017 - Click here to register Youngstown Area April 20, 2023 from 10 am - 12 pm at A La Cart Catering, 429 Lisbon Street, Canfield, OH  44406 - Click here to register   NOTE: Registration Deadline is 4/10/23, 11:59 PM The attendance fee is $35.00/person, billed out after your attendance. Feel free to contact our safety team with any

2023 Q1 Ohio BWC Update

2023 Q1 Ohio BWC Update

Posted By Brandy King
February 20, 2023 Category: Ohio Bwc, Bwc Update, 2023 Bwc Rates, Bwc Rate Reduction, Ohio Safety Congress, Dfsp, One Claim Program

BWC announced in January that they are proposing an 8% rate reduction for private employers in the 2023 policy year (which begins 7/1/23). This isn’t the first time they’ve touted it – and it’s also not the first time people have misunderstood what it actually means. Not all manual classifications (NCCI codes) will receive a decrease. In fact, some may see their base rates rise. The 8% is an average, meaning BWC will collect 8% less premium across the board. The administrative fee baked into employer premiums will be coming down for the 2023 policy year, but don’t get too excited. It’s going from 31.59% to 29.01%. The 2.58% drop won’t make a huge difference for most Ohio employers. For example, a policy with a $75,000 annual premium will only see a savings of $1935 next year based on that change. Make sure you complete the 2-hour safety training required for 2022 PY Group Rating and Group Retro participants by June 30, 2023. We have you covered on this one! Just sign up for one of our Safety Seminars being held throughout Ohio in April. These fill up fast, so don’t wait to register. Registration is open for 2023 Ohio Safety Congress! We’ve missed this event dearly and we’re excited to return. For the uninitiated, this three-day event takes place March 8-10 and is FREE for state-fund employers (those with a BWC policy). Between the education, exhibits, continuing education credits and teambuilding

Initial Victory for 2018 Group Retro Refunds

Initial Victory for 2018 Group Retro Refunds

Posted By Brandy King
February 20, 2023 Category: 2018 Group Retro, Ohio Bwc, Missing Refunds

Obviously, our biggest news is the legal victory in our Group Retro case! Earlier in February, a Magistrate from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Columbus ruled in favor of our client Kent Elastomer Products, Inc., vacating BWC’s 2020 decision to withhold 2018 Group Retro refunds. You can read our official public statement in its entirety here. There are still a couple of hurdles to be cleared, so we’re doing our best to educate employers on the story so far, and what could happen next. As of 2/15/22, Ohio BWC had requested a two-week extension on their initial two-week appeal window. Please stay tuned for updates! Any major developments will be shared first on the Spooner Inc LinkedIn page.   If you're not a Spooner Inc client, you can complete this form to request additional information about your potential

February 2023 OSHA Update

February 2023 OSHA Update

Posted By Brandy King
February 20, 2023 Category: Osha, Osha Compliance, Fairfax Memo, Combustible Dust Nep,

    Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh announced his resignation in early February. At the time of the update, he has not actually stepped down and ideas are being tossed around about his potential replacement. Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su is expected to take over as acting secretary, which presents the possibility that she could be our next Secretary of Labor. Regardless of who fills the shoes, OSHA field offices and inspectors will stay busy (see below) – which means employers need to stay diligent. Expansion of combustible dust NEP – This National Emphasis program has now been expanded to the following industries: 311812 – Commercial Bakeries 325910 – Printing Ink Manufacturing 321912 – Cut Stock, Resawing Lumber, and Planning 316110 – Leather and Hide Tanning and Finishing 321214 – Truss Manufacturing 424510 – Grain and Field Bean Merchant Wholesalers The NEP was revised after enforcement reports indicated that wood and food products made up over half of the materials involved in combustible dust fires and explosions. Instance-by-Instance Citations – Also in February, OSHA announced a change in how they may handle enforcement to discourage non-compliance. Instead of grouping citations, Regional Administrators and Area Directors can use their authority to cite each instance of non-compliance separately. These will theoretically be reserved for “high gravity,” serious, and repeated viol

Initial Decision on 2018 Group Retro Refunds

Initial Decision on 2018 Group Retro Refunds

Posted By Brandy King
February 08, 2023 Category: 2018 Group Retro, ohio bwc, missing refunds

Many of you know about our ongoing legal action involving BWC’s withholding of 2018 Group Retro refunds. We are beyond excited to share that a Magistrate for the Tenth District Court of Appeals in Columbus ruled in favor of our lead plaintiff, Kent Elastomer Products, Inc., vacating a 2020 BWC decision to withhold 2018 Retro refunds from participating Ohio employers following a dividend distribution.  To sum it up, the Magistrate agreed that BWC did not have the authority to withhold roughly $244 million in 2018 Retro refunds, and is thusly obligated to return those funds to participating Ohio employers. It's important to note that not only does BWC have two weeks to appeal the decision, but that the court must also uphold the decision in order for these funds to be distributed. We'll have additional detals coming soon, so please stay tuned for

How the Spending Bill & Other New Laws Could Impact Your Business

How the Spending Bill  Other New Laws Could Impact Your Business

Posted By Brandy King
January 19, 2023 Category: Ohio Minimum Wage, Secure 2.0, Retirement, 1099, Non Compete Ban OSHA Penalty, PWFA, PUMP Act, Plans, Hr Update

Secure Act 2.0 Narrowly missing our December newsletter, the SECURE Act 2.0 (SA2) was included in the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package signed into law on 12/29/22. If the acronym for the long-winded “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement” sounds familiar, that’s because it’s an expansion of 2019’s SECURE Act. The 2.0 version contains laws intended to provide incentives to both employers and employees to grow retirement plans, and hopefully shore up savings for late starters or those whose retirement funds may have suffered losses in the market over the last couple of years. Unless otherwise noted, these changes will be effective January 1, 2024. Here are some of the high points on requirements: SA2 broadens eligibility for some small businesses to qualify for a credit that would cover the administrative costs of setting up a workplace retirement plan. Beginning in 2025, employers with retirement plans will be required to auto-enroll employees once eligible, at a minimum of 3% of the employee’s wages (no more than 10%) and will be increased by 1% each year (also no more than 10%). Employees can opt out of this automated enrollment if they choose. Catch-up limits: We talked about the initial changes back in December, but the SA2 will allow a second increase to participants ages 60, 61, 62, and 63 – effective plan years 2024 and later. Most plans will have a limit of a $10,000 catch-up, whereas simple plans wil

Avoiding Slips, Trips & Falls

Avoiding Slips, Trips  Falls

Posted By Brandy King
January 19, 2023 Category: OSHA, Safety, Slips Trips Falls, Workplace Injury, Walking Working Surfaces, Soft Tissue Injury, Ohio Workers' Comp

Slips, trips, and falls continue to be a leading cause of emergency room visits for many workers in the state of Ohio, and nationwide. Some common slip, trip, and fall injuries include: •    Fractured Bones •    Lacerations •    Strains/Sprains •    Back injury •    Head injury/brain trauma Causes of Slips, Trips, and Falls Some common causes of these injuries include: •    Wet or oily surfaces •    Weather hazards including rain, snow, and ice •    Loose mats and rugs •    Walking surfaces that are not level •    Obstructed views •    Poor lighting •    Clutter •    Uncovered wires and cables Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls There are several ways that employers can help prevent these types of incidents and keep worksites safer. The simplest way is to practice good housekeeping throughout your facility. Other options include wearing slip-resistant shoes, using caution when walking on uneven surfaces, as well as surfaces that may be slippery or wet. Good Housekeeping Tips Good workplace housekeeping is an easy way to prevent most slips, trips, and falls, and it’s often overlooked. Simply cleaning up your work area as you go can help on the job site. Examples of good housekeeping

Handicaps in Ohio Workers' Comp

Handicaps in Ohio Workers Comp

Posted By Brandy King
January 19, 2023 Category: Ohio Bwc, Ohio Workers Comp, Handicap Reimbursement, Tpa, Claims Management

When our team meets with prospective clients, we provide an in-depth analysis of their Ohio BWC policy. This allows us to show them how things got to where they are, where they’re headed, and if any of the damage done can be mitigated in some way. By the time we review the claims, it’s sometimes too late to un-ring most of those bells. However, one of the key items we focus on for our clients (especially new ones) is handicap potential. Ohio BWC has a list of pre-existing conditions that would delay a claimant’s recovery following a work-related injury.  While some maladies on the list are rare in claimants, the top four are fairly common. If you have a lost time claim in your experience, it’s worth looking into. Here’s an example of what it could look like: Employee files a workers’ compensation claim that causes a 30% increase in premiums (once it enters the experience), to the tune of $20,000 additional each year for four years. Without a handicap, this claim is projected to cost the employer $80,000 in additional premium. Spooner locates medical evidence to indicate a pre-existing condition that qualifies for a handicap, and obtains a handicap at 30% from BWC.  Employers receive a benefit from the handicap in either reduced premium payments in the future, or will receive a refund check from the BWC for overpaid premium - depending on when the handicap is granted by the BWC and how far along the claim is in the

2022 Ohio BWC Year in Review

2022 Ohio BWC Year in Review

Posted By Brandy King
December 12, 2022 Category: General

After a three-year hiatus, Ohio Safety Congress has finally scheduled an in-person return! This three-day event is scheduled for March 8-10, 2023, and is free to all Ohio BWC state-fund employers. The keynote address and several other sessions will be livestreamed online during the event. This is one of our favorite events, and we’re excited to see you all there! Reinstated Safety Intervention Grant Program – $3 to $1 match on safety investments is back. More here!  Safety Council rebates finally returned! The program transitioned to virtual meetings in March 2020 and a hybrid option was offered for the 2021 policy year, but they also did away with the premium rebate benefit during those two policy years. Now that the program has returned to 100% in person, virtually any private or public state fund employer can earn a 2% premium rebate for attending at least ten meetings each policy year.  The Substance Abuse Recovery Program is funded by millions that the DeWine administration committed toward helping Ohio employers hire, manage and retain employees in recovery. The funds can be used to reimburse employers for employee drug testing (with some caveats), training, and related policy development. As Governor Mike DeWine begins his second term in 2023, he’ll have a new Chief of Staff in Stephanie McCloud, formerly the Administrator (CEO) for Ohio BWC. John Logue will succeed her as the Administrator next year. Logue currently serves as

Spotlight on Dayton Society of Natural History and the Boonshoft Museum

Spotlight on Dayton Society of Natural History and the Boonshoft Museum

Posted By Brandy King
December 08, 2022 Category: childrens museum, non profit, science museum, ohio planetarium, dayton museums, ohio zoo, ohio STEM learning, STEM camps

Photo courtesy of Ohio's Largest Playgrounds We love showcasing the interesting work of our different clients. Every organization provides something integral to our everyday lives – from tanker trucks moving fuel to the resealable bag that keeps your favorite chips fresh. There are also organizations designed simply to give back and improve life in our communities. The Dayton Society of Natural History (DSoNH) has been enriching minds in southwestern Ohio for decades, with its origin as a museum going all the way back to 1893. The organization now includes the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery and Sunwatch Indian Village & Archaeological Park. For those unfamiliar with the museum – there is truly something for all ages. Their hands-on science exhibits are a hit with kids of all ages, but the museum also includes a number of learning labs, nature-focused areas, and even an AZA accredited zoo with critters from all over the globe. The grown-ups can keep an eye out for their laser light shows in the planetarium, summer block parties and their big fundraising Boonshoft Bash in August.  We recently spoke to their Marketing Director, Taylor Hoffman to learn more about their mission, and how to get involved. What is DSoNH’s mission? Our mission is to be the regional go-to for STEM education, natural history, astronomy - and fun, informal learning about the world around us. We’re a children’s museum as well as a science center, nat

2022 OSHA Year in Review

2022 OSHA Year in Review

Posted By Brandy King
December 08, 2022 Category: osha, regulations, 2022 osha review, heat illness standard, regional emphasis programs, hearing conservation, ITA reporting

OSHA was very well-funded and staffed throughout 2022, and they kept themselves busy. There were plenty of Regional Emphasis Programs (REPs) in region 5 (which includes Ohio), including grain handling, demolition, powered industrial vehicles, tank cleaning operations, and hearing conservation – plus a National Regional Emphasis program on Heat Illness. While many businesses had largely forgotten about COVID protocols and safety measures by 2022, certain sectors of the healthcare industry were still under the agency’s microscope this year. The measures aimed at healthcare employers are “advisory” in nature, not considered standards or regulations. Still, OSHA did renew their focus on inspecting healthcare facilities from March through June 2022. The short-term initiative was directed at healthcare facilities that treat or handle COVID-19 patients, like hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. With surges still occurring, we could see more of these focused inspections in 2023. A number of National Emphasis programs were also issued, including one for Heat Illness. This issue has become a top priority over the last few years, due to climate change creating unbearably hot conditions for both indoor and outdoor workers.  OSHA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking back in October 2021, with an extended comment period through late January 2022. In simpler terms, they’re indicating that a standard is being considered and took the

Ohio BWC Reinstates Safety Intervention Grant Program

Ohio BWC Reinstates Safety Intervention Grant Program

Posted By Brandy King
December 08, 2022 Category: safety, ohio bwc, osha, safety grant, grant money, safety intervention, ergonomics

Ohio employers may be able to check one more thing off their wish list this year, without paying full price. Ohio BWC has reinstated the Safety Intervention Grant (SIG) Program, which matches eligible state-fund employers $3 to $1 on investments to create a safer workplace. Most employers who have had an Ohio BWC policy for at least one year, are paying above minimum premium ($120+), current on installments and true ups with no lapses this year should be able to take advantage. Self-insuring employers, employers in a self-insured PEO, state agencies and state universities are not eligible. Every three years, eligible employers can apply for up to $40,000 in matching funds to purchase “equipment to substantially reduce or eliminate injuries and illnesses associated with a particular task or operation.” Prior to applying, you should plan to reach out to a BWC safety field consultant to assist with the application process. Be prepared to show them info on any workers’ comp claims or incidents associated with the particular area or task, the number of employees performing the task, and explore vendors to get price quotes on the equipment you have in mind. As always, there are items and services that grant funds can’t be used for - like standard PPE, training, equipment needed to meet minimum OSHA requirements, etc. A detailed moratorium can be found here. Of course, there are always a few strings attached when money is being given away. There are some

2023 Group Retro Deadline Approaching!

Posted By Brandy King
December 08, 2022 Category: ohio bwc, workers comp, group retro, premium savings, 2023 programs

     We’re giving you one more reminder that the second biggest program enrollment deadline, Group Retrospective Rating – is right around the corner! More commonly referred to as Group Retro, this program is great for any companies who may be penalty rated, missed the Group Rating deadline, or simply have a different appetite for risk. Companies that participate in Group Retro will pay their normal premiums to BWC, and will be rebated based on the performance of the group they were placed in. Groups are homogenous, meaning you’re sharing a pool with other employers in your industry. Spooner will be accepting Group Retro enrollments through January

Respiratory Protection, Fit Testing & Written Programs

Respiratory Protection, Fit Testing  Written Programs

Posted By Brandy King
November 14, 2022 Category: Respiratory Protection, Respirator Fit Testing, Written OSHA Programs, Osha, PFT, Occupational Health, 1910.134

If your workplace exceeds the permissible exposure limits of airborne contaminants (more on that here), there are a few items you should have in place, starting with a written respiratory protection program. If this isn’t something your own safety staff is comfortable putting together, you can outsource it to a third party. Spooner’s safety team is well-versed in helping develop these types of programs to help businesses remain compliant. Once the written program is finalized, you’ll need to select the appropriate respirator based on the type of exposure. After both of those tasks are complete, it’s time to schedule respirator fit testing. Even though a pulmonary function test (PFT) is not always required by OSHA prior to wearing a respirator on the job, the medical provider performing the certification may require a PFT as part of the process. A PFT is required for employees wearing respirators for protection from asbestos, cotton dust, benzene, formaldehyde, silica and beryllium, to name a few. Any employee planning on wearing a respirator at work will need to complete OSHA’s Respirator Questionnaire. Simply asking your employees to complete one prior to wearing a respirator isn’t sufficient - OSHA requires that a physician [or other licensed health care professional (PLHCP)] to review the questionnaire. How the form is completed is determined by the type of respirator worn, and certain responses may serve as a red flag that additio

How Long Has It Been Since You Examined Your Payroll Invoice?

How Long  Has It Been Since You Examined Your Payroll Invoice

Posted By Brandy King
November 14, 2022 Category: Payroll, Overcharging, Additional Fees, Surety HR, SI PEO, Payroll Processing Fees, ADP Fees, Paychex Fees

Probably too long. Maybe never? Donpayroll, overcharging, additional fees, s’t worry, you’re not alone. The person handling payroll at your company – be it the owner, HR, office manager or even dedicated payroll personnel – probably breathes a sigh of relief every week when the hard part is over and tries not to think about it for six more days. Given the stories clients have shared about “service” with other payroll processors, we can see why it’s no one’s favorite task. The only problem is, most people are so happy that it’s done that they don’t comb through their invoices from the payroll provider. When you look at it – are you seeing several other charges in addition to the per employee/per pay fee you were sold on when you signed? We’ve seen charges like $250 for submitting after 12pm on the designated day, or $30 per employee for W-2 processing at year-end. We’re here to tell you – that’s not “normal.” You may have been told it was perfectly normal during the sales process, that all payroll providers have these ancillary fees.  Many payroll providers don’t, and SuretyHR certainly doesn’t. We’d be happy to review your most recent payroll invoice to make sure you’re getting the value promised for what you’re paying. If it turns out you’re being overcharged, we’ll do our best to help you find the right partner for your bus

Is Our Company Allowed to Pay Cash for Workers' Comp Treatment in Ohio?

Is Our Company Allowed to Pay Cash for Workers Comp Treatment in Ohio

Posted By Brandy King
November 14, 2022 Category: Ohio Bwc, Workers Comp, Cash Payment, Paying Cash For Treatment, 15K, SI PEO, Deductibles

We know it happens. An employer pays cash at an urgent care for that “one and done” work-related injury visit, or maybe a handful of chiropractor visits. The employer didn’t want the claims costs hitting their experience and premiums, or to risk their EMR going even higher. Unless they’re in one of a few specific programs, employers paying cash for treatment of a work-related injury is prohibited. It can go left quickly and create some ugly scenarios for employers. We want to help you understand what can happen, and some above-board ways to reduce the impact of medical costs on future premiums. Paying cash for an injured worker’s medical treatment is a slippery slope. Ohio BWC-approved providers should not be willing to accept an employer’s cash payment for treatment unless they are self-insured for workers’ comp in Ohio, part of the 15K program, or an Ohio-BWC approved deductible plan. If an employee hurts their back at work and claims they just want to see a chiropractor - it may seem both easy and tempting to pay cash for a few visits. No need to file a claim and make a big deal of it, right? Wrong. Especially with soft tissue injuries, treatment could go on for months (even years), and may eventually require an orthopedic surgeon. When BWC finds out that the initial injury wasn’t reported as a claim and the employer chose to pay cash for treatment, that employer now has a non-covered claim. That means the employer will b

Mergers & Acquisitions and How They Impact Your Ohio BWC Policy

Mergers  Acquisitions and How They Impact Your Ohio BWC Policy

Posted By Brandy King
November 14, 2022 Category: Mergers, Acquisitions, MA, Ohio Bwc, Polcy Combination, Transfer Of Experience, Group Rating,

  Thinking of Buying a Business in 2023? Congratulations! You’ve probably spoken to your banking partner, CPA and maybe a business advisor. What about your workers’ comp TPA? It’s typically the last thing on anyone’s mind while progressing through a merger or acquisition, but reviewing the workers’ comp policy should be part of the due diligence process. With a home purchase, you have a thorough inspection done by experts that know what to look for, and they provide a report on anything that could become costly down the road. If it that analysis makes it seem like a money pit, you may choose not to move forward. Shouldn’t a buyer also investigate every angle of a business purchase the same way? Even if the purchase is “in name only,” Ohio BWC has other ideas about how much of the previous owner’s problems you’ll inherit. Let’s say you already own one business, and you’re interested in purchasing another. Your existing business is enrolled in BWC’s Group Rating program, with a 40% discount on premiums. You cover all of the usual bases during the due diligence process – examine the seller’s overall financial health, debts, leases, contracts, and any other obligations. Everything appears to be in good shape. The transaction is complete, and you now own another business. You contact your workers’ comp TPA to let them know you have a new entity to cover for workers’ co

Legal Considerations for Company Holiday Parties

Legal Considerations for Company Holiday Parties

Posted By Brandy King
November 14, 2022 Category: HR, Legal, Holiday Parties, Lawsuits, Christmas Parties,

  Some company holiday parties are legendary, whether it was a cheerful good time for all involved, or a full-on fiasco. There was even a movie made about them, which we're convinced could be based on real stories from HR managers around the world. The merriment comes with legal considerations that should be weighed ahead of time, so your management team can avoid the dreaded "over-served" employee(s). Speaking of covering your bases, we're obligated to remind you that this is not legal advice. If you have concerns about the risk associated with throwing a holiday party for employees, please consult your business counsel. Attendance - Make sure all employees are included in the party, but attendance should be voluntary.      The focus of the party should be on celebrating the employees and not about a particular holiday. Avoid referring to the party as a “Christmas Party,” and just call it a “Holiday Party,” or an “End of the Year

Open Enrollment Checklist for Employees

Open Enrollment Checklist for Employees

Posted By Brandy King
November 14, 2022 Category: Open Enrollment, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Checklist, HR, Human Resources

There's no shortage of checklists for HR managers and benefits administrators reminding them of what boxes to check during open enrollment. Those are great tools for management, but what about the group that tends to need the most guidance with benefits - employees? We put something together that you're free to download (just right click and save image), or you can request a high resolution printable by emailing

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