Ohio law allows BWC to adopt rules establishing worker safety standards that are the minimum requirements of an employer in protecting its employees.
The board approved revisions of safety rules for the following industries:
metal casting, steel making, laundering and dry cleaning, elevators, rubber and plastics and window cleaning. The changes are necessary because when injuries are caused by a violation of a specific safety requirement, the injured worker may receive additional compensation payable in the claim.
In other business, the board approved a slight premium rate decrease for Ohio state agencies, universities and university hospitals.
A BWC actuarial analysis recommended the change to the Public Employer State Agencies rate. State agencies, which pay bi-weekly premiums, will begin paying the new rate beginning July 1. State universities and university hospitals pay quarterly premiums and will begin paying at the lower rate in October.
BWC's Actuarial Division determines rates for each agency that will generate premium collections that are equal to the anticipated losses during the upcoming year. The average rates vary among public employer state agencies. Agency rates will be individually calculated, while most can expect a rate decrease, some agencies could experience an increase based on their claim activity.
The board also approved an implementation strategy for diversifying both fixed and equity investments within the State Insurance Fund. The vote follows the board's approval last month of a comprehensive update to the Fund's investment policy statement (IPS), which was the result of a year-long analysis.
As a result of the new IPS, the State Insurance Fund portfolio will remain 100 percent passively managed and will be comprised of 70 percent bonds and 30 percent equities. The plan calls for the issuance of a Master Passive Index Manager Request for Proposal (RFP) to select a passive investment managers to execute the new investment strategy. The RFP is expected to be posted by July 2009, with finalists identified later this year.
- AAA Michigan opposes several bills introduced in the House of Representatives that would allow motorcyclists to ride without their helmets.
House Bills 4028, 4747, and 4907, sponsored by Representative Richard LeBlanc (D-Westland), would make helmet use optional, rather than mandatory, for those operating or riding a motorcycle.
According to AAA, every year bikers ride to Lansing to promote their narrow special interest (riding without helmets) without regard for the common good. A 2005 AAA study found nearly 90 percent of AAA Michigan members opposed a repeal of the state's mandatory motorcycle helmet law, which has served Michigan well for more than 35 years. AAA said a repeal of the motorcycle helmet law will result in at least 30 additional motorcycle fatalities each year, along with 127 more incapacitating injuries and $129 million in added economic costs to Michigan citizens. This is based on the experience of other states where similar measures have been enacted.
According to AAA, as evidenced by increased medical costs passed on to taxpayers, motorcycle deaths and long-term catastrophic injuries are on the rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2007, 5,154 motorcyclists were killed - a 7 percent increase over the 4,837 motorcyclists killed in 2006. In Michigan, 120 motorcyclists were killed in 2007. NHTSA estimates that helmets saved 1,784 motorcyclists' lives in 2007, and that 800 more could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.