Ohio BWC Returns $39.8M to Valley Employers

Ohio BWC Returns $39.8M to Valley Employers

WARREN, Ohio — Employers in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties who pay premiums to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation can expect a sizable refund in the mail by early next month.

The Ohio BWC has started sending rebate checks to companies across the three-county region totaling $39.8 million, said Mark Clendenin, northeast region business development manager, during a press conference at Ohio Star Forge.

“It’s a real boost for the region,” he said. “We do hope that some of that money will be reinvested into safety programs of those companies that receive it. It’s a really great opportunity.”

Employers in Mahoning County stand to receive a total of $21,286,291 in rebates; Trumbull County companies are slated to get $11,387,600 in rebates; and Columbiana County businesses will see $7,136,719 in rebates.

Clendenin said that this year, more than $1.5 billion in rebates would be paid out to Ohio employers. It is the fourth consecutive rebate the agency has issued and the largest in 20 years, he added. The returns amount to 85% of the premiums paid this year, and the agency has refunded more than $8 billion to companies since 2011.

BWC was able to pay out rebates over the last several years because of a combination of the agency’s sound investment income, reduced claims and prudent fiscal management, Clendenin said.

The agency has also invested in new safety programs amounting to a $44 million – $8 million of which are grants earmarked for law enforcement and school safety improvements, he said.

“We’ve had tremendous success in these programs,” he said, citing a grant initiative last year that helped fire departments clean turnout gear to remove carcinogens left by fires.

Clendenin urged all businesses to watch for these payments in the mail, since there have been times when recipients have discarded them without bothering to open the envelope. He pointed to some cases in which he’s tracked down employers that were entitled to $100,000 in rebates but never saw the payment.

“We’re excited to lead the way in the industry,” he said. “We’re looking for work safety at home, work safety at work among all Ohioans.”

Denise Villanueva, human resource manager at Ohio Star Forge, accepted a mock check for $39.8 million on behalf of the entire region.

“We do take safety seriously, and the wellness and safety of our employees is paramount,” she said.

William Orbach, president of Ohio Star Forge, said that the company does not compromise when it comes to the safety of the 120 employees who work there.  “We instituted a safety program many years ago that rewards our employees for being safe,” he said. While this translates into overall lower BWC premiums, it most importantly established a safe, secure working environment for the company’s employees and their families, he added.

Ohio Star Forge manufactures bearings and other components for the automotive industry, Orbach said. Many of the jobs require heavy-industry positions such as forging and other tasks, while others are less physically demanding but nevertheless involve attention to detail.

Orbach said it’s been 21 months since an employee has lost time because of an accident.

“This is our 30th year in business,” he said. “We have grown over the years to where we are now involved in automotive more than our original bearing company. At this point and time, we expect to continue to expand.”

Pictured above: (From left) William Orbach, president, Ohio Star Forge; Hirohiko Yoshida, chief financial officer, Ohio Star Forge; Denise Villanueva, human resource manager, Ohio Star Forge; Mark Clendenin, regional business development manager, Northeast Ohio, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.