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Author: Brandy King

New Ruling on MMI to Impact TTD Termination

Posted By Brandy King
March 22, 2024 Category: Ohio Bwc, Ohio Supreme Court, Workers' Comp, TTD, MMI, Temporary Total, Disability Comepnsation

Earlier in March, the Ohio Supreme Court made a decision regarding Temporary Total Disability (TTD) that overrules a 25 year precedent set by another interpretation. In State ex rel. Dillon v Industrial Commission, the court ruled that an Ohio employer may request termination of a claimant’s TTD from the date an independent medical examination (IME) renders that claimant MMI, or Maximum Medical Improvement. MMI is the point in recovery where the claimant’s condition has stabilized, and any notable improvements going forward are unlikely.  Ohio employers can now request that TTD payments are stopped on the date that MMI is determined by a medical provider, without waiting for the next Industrial Commission hearing that could be up to 60 days away. This case also sets a precedent that claimants are no longer eligible for continuing TTD payouts once they’ve reached MMI status. That means self-insured employers (and BWC) will have the ability to recover compensation overpayments that may have occurred after MMI was determined.  Our friends at Roetzel & Andress have put together a more detailed explanation. If you have questions about how this this may impact your current, open claims, please reach out to your

SUR Program Provides Additional Program Funding for Employers

Posted By Brandy King
March 22, 2024 Category: Ohio Bwc, Substance Use Recovery, Funding

We talked about this program a few months ago, and wanted to share it again since we’ve seen renewed interest from Spooner clients. Ohio BWC’s Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program provides additional funding for employers to effectively manage substance use in the workplace, especially for companies open to employing those in recovery from substance abuse.  Ohio employers can be reimbursed up to a maximum of $5000 annually. Policy development and testing expenses do have some limits within the $5000, but employers can spend the entire $5000 on training if desired. This isn’t reserved for Ohio BWC Drug Free Safety Program participants – any state fund employer can take advantage of this program. While there are a few rules in place and some ineligible expenses, this program is simple to participate in and use. The biggest exception is that drug test reimbursement is limited to employers with a “second chance policy.” Each category of reimbursement can be used individually, meaning that employers can still take advantage of the training and policy development reimbursements, even if they aren’t comfortable with a second chance

OH | ID Login Transition with BWC

Posted By Brandy King
March 22, 2024 Category: Ohio BWC, BWC Login, OH ID

Ohio employers have begun seeing the option to log in to their BWC accounts with their OH|ID username and password.  For the next couple of months, you’ll still be able to use your existing Ohio BWC site login. At some point prior to the upcoming 2024-2025 BWC policy year, employers will only have the option to login via OH|ID.    If your company already has an OH|ID set up, you’re a step ahead and will simply need to merge the accounts when prompted.  If not, we’d suggest getting it done as soon as possible. You can find more information on the upcoming change here, including links to video instructions on the right hand

Drug Free Safety Reporting Deadline March 29

Posted By Brandy King
March 22, 2024 Category: Ohio Bwc Drug Free Workplace DFSP Drug Free Safety Drug Testing Training

Employers participating in Ohio BWC’s Drug-Free Safety Program (Basic or Advanced) or a Comparable Program will need to submit their required reports by Friday, March 29. Keep in mind, this is the same week as Ohio Safety Congress – so it’s best to make sure your DFSP reporting is submitted before you leave for OSC.   The report and instructions for Basic and Advanced participants can be found online here, and the report and instructions for Comparable-Level participants can be found online here. Your report also serves as an application for the next program year. If you have additional questions or concerns about this reporting, or need a resource for training, please reach out to your Client Services Manager at Spooner Inc., or email

Columbus Bans Inquiries on Applicant Salary History

Posted By Brandy King
March 22, 2024 Category: Ohio Employment Law, Columbus Salary History Ban, Salary Inquiry, Applicants

As of March 1st, 2024, Columbus employers can no longer inquire about the salary history of job applicants. The city is jumping on the bandwagon with Cincinnati and Toledo, who have instituted similar bans over the last few years. The rule applies to employers with 15 or more employees in the City of Columbus.  The goal of the move is to bolster pay equity, and will also apply to “agents” of employers, such as staffing agencies or recruiters. This kind of ordinance isn’t considered new or groundbreaking. Fifteen states and several major cities have implemented bans on salary history inquiries from prospective employers.   Employers who are found in violation of this new rule may be subject to civil penalties between $1000 to $5000. The full verbiage of the measure can be found here, and Roetzel & Andress also has as easy-to-digest rundown on it

OSHA Citation Assistance

OSHA Citation Assistance

Posted By Brandy King
February 22, 2024 Category: Osha, Safety, Osha Citation, Osha Inspection, Osha Investigation,

Some of the calls and emails we receive from Spooner clients may be preventive and simple, others can be panicked, and everything in between. One of the things that sets Spooner apart is that we don’t just have a safety services team – we encourage our clients to take advantage of those services. We offer a 24/7 OSHA-Safety hotline to all of our clients, we can assist them in OSHA informal conferences, and we advise them to call us right away when OSHA is involved (or will be). The knee-jerk reaction for many people is to just start talking when OSHA shows up, announced or not. We’d recommend contacting us and/or your attorney before doing anything else. If you don’t have an attorney that is well-versed on labor and employment law, we can connect you with one. This isn’t something for your tax or real estate attorney to handle. There’s no need to make any admissions of guilt during the inspection. The importance of understanding the OSHA process and your rights before they come knocking can’t be overstated. Every inspector will present differently, but they’re always trying to get information – that’s their job. Regardless of what they find during the inspection, there’s a good chance the employer may have recourse in negotiating a settlement better than the “as written” citation.  It’s not unusual for our safety team to assist clients in getting a case dismissed before it even reaches

Enhancing Workplace Safety Through Ergonomics Assessments

Enhancing Workplace Safety Through Ergonomics Assessments

Posted By Brandy King
February 22, 2024 Category: Ergonomics Assessment, Ohio Ergonomic Consultant, Injury Prevention, OSHA

Ensuring the wellbeing of your employees is not only a moral imperative, but also a strategic advantage.  One critical aspect of workplace safety often overlooked is ergonomics—the science of designing workspaces, tools, and processes to fit the capabilities and limitations of human workers.   Why should you invest in ergonomics assessments? Reduced Workplace Injuries: Ergonomics assessments identify potential hazards related to repetitive tasks, awkward postures, and heavy lifting.  By addressing these issues proactively, you can significantly reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries, strains, and sprains among your workforce. Enhanced Productivity: When employees work in comfortable and efficient environments, productivity soars.  Ergonomics assessments optimize workstations, minimizing unnecessary movements and streamlining processes.  A well-designed workspace allows employees to focus on their tasks without discomfort or fatigue. Cost Savings: Workplace injuries lead to lost productivity, medical expenses, and workers’ compensation claims. Investing in ergonomics proactively can prevent these costs in the future.  Moreover, a safer workplace attracts and retains skilled workers, reducing turnover expenses. Compliance and Legal Requirements: Regulatory bodies are increasing their scrutiny of ergonomics.  OSHA doesn’t yet have a specific standard for ergonomics, but you’ve probably heard about the numer

February 2024 Ohio BWC Update: Rate Reductions and Login Credentials

February 2024 Ohio BWC Update: Rate Reductions and  Login Credentials

Posted By Brandy King
February 22, 2024 Category: Ohio BWC, BWC Update, OHID Login, BWC Rate Reduction 2024

Ohio BWC Rate Reduction for PY 2024-25 Approved Following a rate reduction for public Ohio employers that went into effect January 1, 2024 – Ohio BWC has approved another rate reduction for private employers. Governor DeWine and the administrators at Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation asked their board to approve a 7% rate decrease, which they approved on February 23rd, 2024. Those rates will become effective on July 1, 2024, at the start of the new policy year. BWC will collect roughly $67 million less in premiums from Ohio employers over the course of the policy year.   As we’ve mentioned before, it’s important to note that a 7% rate reduction is not literal – it “represents a statewide average” reduction. What that means for employers is that some rates may go down…but it’s also possible for some to go up. Spooner clients will be notified of any rate changes at their annual renewal. If you’re not a Spooner client and your TPA isn’t reviewing your anticipated rate changes with you, we’re happy to help you understand the potential impact on your premiums. Just complete our online AC-3 form and someone will reach out to you right away.  Ohio Employers Will Soon Transition to OH|ID Logins for BWC Website Around the end of February, Ohio employers may see the option to log in to their BWC accounts with their OH|ID username and password.  For the next couple of months, you’ll st

Spooner Safety Now Providing Ohio EPA Contact Hours

Spooner Safety Now Providing Ohio EPA Contact Hours

Posted By Brandy King
February 22, 2024 Category: EPA, Ohio EPA Contact Hours, EPA Contact Hours Provider,

If your company holds a Water Supply or Distribution license, some of your employees may be required to complete a certain amount of Contact Hours, which are essentially continuing education for their specific field and position. Spooner Safety Services is now an authorized provider of Ohio EPA Contact Hours for employers/employees who must meet the requirements for related jobs under its standard. Contact Jon Carpenter with any questions at

DOL Issues Final Rule on Independent Contractors

Posted By Brandy King
January 17, 2024 Category: DOL, Independent Contractors, Ohio Bwc, Workers' Comp

Who’s Really an Independent Contractor? DOL Finalizes New Rule Clarifying Classification Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) finalized its rules regarding classification of independent contractors. The organization hadn’t previously defined this by regulations, only by guidelines (which are as clear as OSHA “best practices”).  The updated rule creates a six-factor “economic realities” test to determine whether or not a worker is truly an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Among others, the test includes factors such as degree of permanence, amount of control the employer holds, and the worker’s skills.   Since Ohio employers aren’t required to cover 1099 employees under their BWC policy, we have a lot of discussions with clients about whether or not a worker actually meets the qualifications of being an independent contractor. Understanding these qualifications is not only important for insurance purposes, but also for recordkeeping, and the application of minimum wage and overtime rules.  Our friends at Roetzel & Andress have done a great job of explaining this new classification rule in a way that’s easy to digest and understand, so we’re deferring to their recent update for the details.  For more info on how independent contractors can impact your Ohio BWC policy, check out this blog.  This goes into effect March 11

A Guide to Submitting 2023 OSHA Logs

Posted By Brandy King
January 17, 2024 Category: OSHA, Electronic Recordkeeping, Form 301, Form 300, OSHA 300A, Safety, Incident Reporting, Compliance

It’s time to post and electronically submit your OSHA logs - and this year, submission requirements will impact far more U.S. employers. We discussed this in detail when the rule was finalized in July 2023. Effective January 1, 2024, OSHA will require employers with over 100 employees in certain high hazard industries to complete electronic records submissions of Forms 300 and 301, in addition to Form 300A. These are records that covered employers should already be keeping, but previously have not been required to submit. The impacted industries include (but aren’t limited to) retail, wholesale, performing arts, manufacturing, farming, and grocers. Our safety team agrees that the fastest, easiest way to find out your company’s submission requirements is to use this ITA Coverage Application. Enter your company’s NAICS code and employee count, and it will confirm which logs should be submitted. As a general guide: 20-249 employees and on this list must submit 300A 100 or more employees and on this list must submit the 300A, 301 and 300 log.  Employee count is “per establishment,” not entire corporation size. So, what is OSHA’s definition of an “establishment?” An establishment is a single physical location where business is conducted, or where services or industrial operations are performed. For activities where employees do not work at a single physical location - such as construction, transportation, communication

Grading Payroll Providers on Enrollment and W-2 Performance

Posted By Brandy King
January 17, 2024 Category: Payroll, Overcharging, Additional Fees, Surety HR, SI PEO, Payroll Processing Fees, ADP Fees, Paychex Fees

With 2023 group health enrollments behind us, and W-2 season wrapping up – most employers have a strong opinion about the role their payroll provider played in both of those, good or bad.  Let’s consider open enrollment first. If your payroll provider utilizes an electronic benefits module, and made an implementation plan with your broker – things should have gone smoothly. Benefits enrollment is always subject to hitting snags throughout the process. Here are some things to consider:  •    Was there communication between all parties if a timeline changed? •    Was everyone pulling in the same direction, without making you (the employer) an unnecessary go-between?  •    Was every party involved invested in making sure things were done right the first time? •    Have you considered an API connection or Data Bridge with your Carrier?  (Fees may apply)  It’s important not to over- or under-rely on technology. Let the electronic benefits modules do their job, but make sure you and your payroll provider have your eyes peeled for potential issues.  W-2 season brings similar headaches. If the employer has done their best to ensure that all employee info is up-to-date and accurate, the prevention and resolution of those headaches’ rests heavily on your payroll provider. If employees have questions about W-2s, or there’s a potentia

Ohio BWC Update to Wrap Up 2023

Posted By Brandy King
December 18, 2023 Category: Ohio Bwc, Bwc Update, Group Retro, Transitional Work, Ohio Bwc EM Cap, Drug Free Safety Program

Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will be rolling out several changes that will impact Ohio employers in 2024. We mentioned back in August that the way base rates are structured may be changing, which BWC has confirmed. It’s uncertain how this will impact the end premiums, but no big swings are anticipated. We’ll be keeping our clients informed about any major changes.  The following rating elements will also be changing, with the potential to impact future premiums:  •    Deductible Factors •    Individual Retro – minimum premium factors •    Group Retro - loss development factors •    Premium Size Credit – ranges and factors This is also a “wait and see” situation, as we don’t yet know exactly what changes BWC plans on making to these elements.  Certificates of coverage will look different next year as well. They’ll now also list the employer’s MCO, any additional insureds, officers, who is eligible for elective coverage (such as owners), and NCCI codes and descriptions, in addition to the company’s address.  As of now, if employers need to make a minor change or correct an error in a company’s policy name, they had to complete a specific form and fax or mail that form back to BWC. The only way this process could be made slower would be by carrier pigeon. Luckily, they’ve stepped int

EEOC Reporting and Updates

Posted By Brandy King
November 27, 2023 Category: EEOC, EEO 1 Reporting, Harassment, Compliance, DEI

EEO1 guidance/reporting After pushing their projected reporting window back (originally slated to open in July 2023), EEOC opened the reporting window for the 2022 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection reports on October 31. These demographic reports are mandatory for all private sector employers with over 100 employees, as well as certain federal contractors. EEOC has also released a booklet to help employers through the process.  Some employers struggled with reporting options last year, as there was no way to accurately report non-binary staff members. This oversight has been addressed in the booklet. Per the agency, “Employers that voluntarily choose to report non-binary employees in the ‘comments’ section of the report(s) should not assign such employees to the male or female categories or any other categories (i.e., job category and race or ethnicity) within the report(s).” Employers have through December 5, 2023 to submit this data, and EEOC will publish any updates on the process to the dedicated reporting website.  In other EEOC news, the group issued proposed guidance in late September on “Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace.” The epic 145-page proposal details what features EEOC feels effective harassment policies should include, as well as the minimum of what effective training should encompass. While that much information may seem like overkill- it’s important to consider that harassment is still

OSHA and NLRB Team Up on Enforcement

Posted By Brandy King
November 27, 2023 Category: NLRB, NLRA, OSHA, Compliance, Regulatory Agencies, Safety

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced on October 31, 2023 that they’ll be strengthening their partnership with OSHA on referrals, sharing information, training, and outreach. The Memorandum of Understanding allows OSHA and NLRB to work together more efficiently to enforce labor laws and protect the rights of workers.  Assistant Secretary for OSHA Doug Parker stated, "Everyone should be able to exercise their legal rights in the workplace without fear of losing their job or other forms of punishment.” He noted that the partnership will expand the capacity of both agencies to protect workers raising concerns about workplace violations or retaliatory activity. This arrangement is likely to increase overall understanding of workers’ rights under federal anti-retaliation and whistleblower protection laws. The two organizations have built a fact sheet to help workers understand their rights and what recourse they have and what recourse they have if those rights are infringed upon. You can find that fact sheet here.   It shouldn’t be news to employers that you can’t (and shouldn’t) retaliate against employees for exercising their rights when it comes to workplace safety. If you don’t already have this poster alongside all of your other required communications to employees, you can order one for free here. We’re sharing the news of this partnership because it stands to amplify the already aggressive stan

Retirement Update: Plenty of Changes on Deck for 2024

Posted By Brandy King
November 27, 2023 Category: 401k, Retirement, Retirement Contributions, Roth, 529, Secure 2.0, Fiduciary Definition

At the end of October, US Department of Labor (DOL) announced a rule expanding what’s considered “fiduciary investment advice” under the Employee Retirement Income Security ACT, better known as ERISA. This will include guidance from those involved in employer-sponsored retirement plans.  The most notable difference will be a change to the five-part test, which will now state that investment advice will be considered fiduciary if the person providing it “does so on a regular basis as part of their business.”  The advice must also be “provided under circumstances indicating that the recommendation is based on the particular needs” of the retirement investor, and could potentially be used as a guide in their investment decisions. DOL’s press release states that the update would come into play when financial services providers are charging what they consider “junk fees” for advice, which can cut into the funds saved.   An attempt was made by DOL in 2015 to update the definition of “fiduciary,” but fell apart after a circuit court vacated the rule before it could be enforced.  The IRS also recently announced plenty of changes in store for 2024, all part of the SECURE 2.0 Act. The headliner of these changes that will impact the majority of people saving for retirement - the maximum employee contribution for 401(k) retirement plans will increase next year. With a $500 increase from 2023, e

Are Ohio Employers Required to Provide Time Off to Vote?

Are Ohio Employers Required to Provide Time Off to Vote

Posted By Brandy King
October 19, 2023 Category: General

The short answer is yes, but here are some additional details that may answer any lingering questions.  Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.) Section 3599.06 provides employees a “reasonable amount of time” away from work to perform their civic duty of voting on election day. This is a bit subjective, so take into consideration whether or not there have been long lines during previous elections in your area. Most employees don’t need a whole day, or even a half day. Plan on giving some extra cushion for employees who may not live near your worksite, as their polling location will likely be closer to their residence.  Additionally, O.R.C. states that employers may not: •    terminate or threaten to terminate an employee for taking reasonable time off to vote •    refuse to allow an employee to serve as a poll worker on election day •    insist that an employee accompany them to a polling location •    use any indirect force or threats to prevent staff from voting or compel them to refrain from voting  Employers are not required to pay hourly employees for this time away, but also may not deduct voting time from hours worked for salaried

OSHA Renews Focus on Crystalline Silica for Some Industries

OSHA Renews Focus on Crystalline Silica for Some Industries

Posted By Brandy King
October 19, 2023 Category: General

OSHA is supporting their National Emphasis Program (NEP) on respirable crystalline silica with an initiative focused on manufacturers and wholesalers of brick, stone and related construction materials (NAICS codes 327991 and 423320). This prioritizes inspection efforts for employers in these industries, with each area office in Regions 1- 8 required to perform a minimum of five programmed inspections over the next 12 months. Region 5 encompasses all of Ohio, and Ohio itself has four regional offices (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo) spanning the state.  Respirable crystalline silica is 1/100th the size of a grain of sand, and exposure to it has been linked to silicosis, obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, and other lung diseases. OSHA Administrator Doug Parker stated that workers in the aforementioned industries are reporting severe difficulty breathing, which limits their ability to work, at times resulting in total disability, or even fatality. The initiative also gives authority to local and regional OSHA offices to develop local or regional emphasis programs if they’re justified by relevant data.  If you have questions or concerns about your company’s compliance with the Respirable Crystalline Silica standard, contact your Spooner safety rep, or Spooner’s safety department at

Is Your Open Enrollment Process Coordinated or Chaotic?

Is Your Open Enrollment Process Coordinated or Chaotic

Posted By Brandy King
October 19, 2023 Category: General

There’s a good chance your company is using an electronic benefits module provided by your payroll processor to handle enrollments, deductions, and payments. These add-ons make enrollments a breeze and should automate a great deal of the employee communication, meaning HR isn’t tasked with reaching out to employees who haven’t completed enrollment, or who have a discrepancy in their enrollment choices. All of these applications are designed with most of the same features and capabilities. Not unlike the payroll processor itself – the differences are usually noticeable in the level of service, support, and communication the employer receives.  Employee benefits are often a major pain point for HR and management teams. They’ve already been mulled over for months by the time employees receive enrollment materials. The enrollment window is very time-sensitive, and communication between the employer, their broker, carriers, and payroll provider are essential during this timeframe. Typical enrollment windows are between two and four weeks, so any delays responding to employee issues or questions during enrollment can make things more chaotic than usual.   If communication (either electronic or human) has been a problem in your past open enrollments, consider examining the source of the problem – and how much you’re being charged by your payroll processor for a service that may not be a strong point for them. If having your ow

2024 Group Rating & Group Retro Enrollment

2024 Group Rating  Group Retro Enrollment

Posted By Brandy King
October 19, 2023 Category: General

If your business isn’t enrolled in a savings program for the coming 2024-2025 BWC policy year, you’ll want to get the ball rolling ASAP!  Two of the most highly-favored programs are Group Experience Rating (usually called Group Rating, or just “Group), and Group Retrospective Rating (often referred to as Group Retro or Retro). They’re both great programs that can boast savings over 50% for some policyholders, and the difference between them is fairly simple.  Group Rating is like a coupon – you receive the discount upfront, and pay lower premiums throughout the year. The maximum discount is 53% off of BWC’s base rates, which only applies to policies with zero or very few losses in their experience period.  Group Retrospective is more like a mail-in rebate. You pay the sticker price to BWC for premiums, and are rebated following the end of that policy year based on how your pool performed. Refunds can total close to 50% under the most optimal conditions.  Something to keep in mind: TPAs can advertise any Group Retro refund up to and including 63%, even if their pools have never achieved that. A maximum refund is uncommon, and nearly unheard of over the last couple of years due to eroding refunds due to changes within BWC. Recent changes have us hopeful that the program will begin yielding better refunds, but even still - a 63% refund in Group Retro is only achieved if there were no losses within that

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