Government

BWC Touts New Billing at Safety Council Event

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The upcoming change in the way companies participating in Ohio’s workers’ compensation system pay for coverage will help employers in how they budget, an official with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation says.

“The advantage is that employers will have a better opportunity to budget their workers’ compensation costs knowing exactly what’s to come in advance versus after the fact,” Michelle Francisco said Wednesday at the Mahoning Valley Safety Council’s annual awards luncheon at the Maronite Center.

Beginning July 1, BWC will move to a prospective billing system, in which employers pay for coverage in advance rather than after the fact, as under the retroactive billing system in place since the agency was established. Prospective billing is “cost effective and, most importantly, we believe it will benefit employers,” Francisco said.

Francisco helped present 154 awards to participating companies for their accomplishments in safety during 2014 in various categories, including 24 companies that were singled out for special recognition.

Antenucci Inc. received the ninth annual Joan Kovach Safety Leadership Award, named in honor of Joan Kovach, who with her husband, Michael J. Kovach Jr., founded City Machine Technologies. Joining Antenucci as finalists for the award, selected by the safety council’s board, were Berk Enterprises of Warren and Prout Boiler of Youngstown.

“This award is not our company’s award but it goes to everybody that works with us at Antenucci Inc.,” said Betsy Antenucci Kuhn, vice president, whose father started the mechanical contracting firm in 1948.

“Our goal is still the same today as it was the day that my dad incorporated the business, and that’s that we want to see every person that works with us go home to family as safe and healthy as they came to us to work with us in the morning,” Kuhn reflected.

The award recognizes their accomplishments “in going injury and illness-free, and we’re very pleased that we can share that award with them,” she remarked.

The Warren-based company conducts onsite safety inspections and walk-throughs, and works with the safety services office of the Youngstown BWC branch, Kuhn said. It also conducts quarterly training for on safety-related topics and conducts weekly “toolbox safety sessions” in conjunction with payroll distribution.

“We meet with folks to talk about what they need in the workplace, new safety products coming on the market, the challenges in the workplace they need help with in terms of equipment or better work scheduling — whatever it is,” she said. “And we utilize these Mahoning County Safety Council sessions every month.”

Tom Humphries, president and CEO of the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, which operates the safety council, delivered the keynote address. In his remarks, Humphries reflected on his previous career in the telephone industry, which culminated in him serving as general manager for Sprint’s Ohio East region.

“I had about 1,600 employees that I worked with,” he recalled. “I don’t care if it’s just yourself or you and a small team, or 1,600 people, you think about safety.”

Looking back on the safety record and the employees he was responsible for managing, Humphries said, “Problems usually came when they got distracted, when they weren’t paying attention.”

He acknowledged that he once fell off a telephone pole, “not because I wasn’t trained well” but because he was racing another worker on the adjacent pole to see who could climb down first.

“Sort of stupid, and I fell about 20 feet,” he said. “Thank God I didn’t get really hurt.”

Pictured: The Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber’s Tom Humphries and BWC’s Michelle Francisco present awards at the safety council event.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.