Pictured above are representatives from area companies and local governments which earned awards from the Putnam County Safety Council for their excellent worker safety records in 2018 - Putnam Sentinel
Pictured above are representatives from area companies and local governments which earned awards from the Putnam County Safety Council for their excellent worker safety records in 2018. (Putnam Sentinel/Martin Verni)

PUTNAM COUNTY — “It’s my pleasure to be here for your first ever Safety Council Awards program,” said Michelle Francisco, the Safety Council Program Manager who oversees all 83 of the state’s safety councils as part of her work with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Introduced in Putnam County last year, the Safety Council is, according to OBW’s website, intended to provide local communities with quality programs addressing occupational safety and health, workers’ compensation and risk management education and information. In exchange for participation, employers receive a two to four percent rebate on their workers’ compensation premium.

“In March, April and May,” Mrs. Francisco continued, “We dedicate safety council meetings to presenting awards to companies for their accomplishments in safety. These awards are for your activities in 2018 as reported to the safety council in your two semi-annual reports.”

Before presenting the awards, Mrs. Francisco also informed all those present of a proposal delivered by Governor Mike DeWine and BWC Administrator Stephanie McCloud to return $1.5 billion to Ohio employers this year following strong returns on the agency’s investments. As explained by Mrs. Francisco, the money would be Ohio’s fifth investment return to private and public employers of at least $1 billion since 2013 and sixth overall during that time.

Should the BWC’s Board of Directors vote to approve the proposal at their June 28 meeting, in addition to private interests, schools in Putnam County would receive a combined estimated $122,198.05, and local governments in the county could expect to receive a combined estimated $206,451.17.

According to a BWC press release, this proposal by Governor DeWine and Administrator McCloud continues a trend of lowering workers’ comp costs for Ohio’s private and public employers. BWC has repeatedly lowered premium rates in recent years, including a 12 percent cut for public employers that took effect in January and a 20 percent cut for private employers that begins July 1. The BWC earned $1.3 billion in net investment income in 2018, a net return of 5.1 percent on assets of $26.9 billion.

“This, on average, will mean an 88% return on your workers compensation premium, both for public and private employers, that will begin being paid out in September,” said Mrs. Francisco. “The rate of injuries and claims in Ohio are declining. That’s because your efforts, our safety council efforts, all of the work that our consultants do with employers, the safety congress - everyone’s combined effort to reduce accidents from happening in the workplace or prevent accidents from happening in the workplace.”

Three different types of safety awards were presented to local governments and companies who excelled at offering a safe environment for their workers last year. The Group Award goes to those organizations which achieved the lowest incident rate in their type of work. The 100% Award is given to any organization that worked the entire calendar year of 2018 without resulting in a day or more of work lost due to injury. And finally, a Special Award was presented to a company that worked over six months, and over 500,000 hours without an injury that resulted in a day or more away from work.

The Special Award this year was earned by Whirlpool Corporation of Ottawa. The other honors presented are as follows: B-K Tools - 100% Award; Bob Meyer Builder - 100% Award; Croy’s Mowing - 100% Award, Group Award; Elgin Service Center - 100% Award, Group Award; Industrial Millwright Services - 100% Award; Kahle Electric - 100% Award; Kalida Telephone Co. - 100% Award; Knueve & Sons, Inc. - 100% Award, Group Award; Mcelwain Industries - 100% Award; Miller Precision - 100% Award, Group Award; Monterey Township - 100% Award; POET - 100% Award, Group Award; Village Hardware - 100% Award, Group Award; Village of Continental - 100% Award; Village of Kalida - 100% Award, Village of Ottoville - 100% Award, Group Award; and the Village of Pandora - 100% Award.