Commentary: Ohio’s BWC New Drug Free Program
By Admin

April 8, 2010

Ohio’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation did it again!

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They canceled the necessary help to Ohio’s economy that was found in the original DFWP program, which gave Ohio employers a deeply discounted – 10,15 or 20% premium discount based on the level of involvement in the program, and replaced it with yet another stringently qualifying, expensive to achieve Drug Free SAFETY Program which is “new and improved”.

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This new and improved program mandates “safety” as a stringent qualifier because we aren’t smart enough to realize that substance use and abuse in the workplace directly affects the safety of the user and their accompanying work mates.

DFWP ends June 30, 2010 and the new program DFSP begins July 1, 2010.  Applications must be submitted prior to enrollment if you’re considering it.

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The qualifiers have yet to be uncovered and are expected to be published later this month but the criteria appear to be similar. Initial and annual supervisor/employee training, pre-hire, post accident and reasonable suspicion required testing appear to be the same.  Annual reporting appears to be the same.  Written policy needs to include SAFETY in it. And, here’s the rub….all for a meager 4% premium reduction for the basic program and up to 7% premium reduction for the advanced program.  Sure you can stack with other programs like group participation but you can only receive the incremental difference.

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The discount doesn’t even cover the cost of the program for Ohio employers. The 4% premium discount doesn’t even come close to the cost of professional trainings by a “qualified/credentialed substance professional” which must be one of the BWC’s chosen providers.  This cost could be thousands of dollars depending on the size of your company. Although it appears you can “get” the material from a provider and do it yourself but if there are questions, the professional needs to be contacted within two days.  I doubt that their consultation would be given as a free will offering.  The 4 – 7% premium reduction doesn’t even come close to the $40 – $50 per person for the cost of a “recognized” test. (That’s just for a urine screen. The cost for an MRO review or a Breath Alcohol test could triple that expense).   And at my first read, it appeared that instead of a 10% random draw they’ve removed this requirement for the basic and increased it to 15% for the advanced. Add that into the equation.

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They said because of the savings generated by their recent rate reduction in base rates, Ohio’s employers are able to invest in additional equipment and programs to create safer workforces. Ohio employers are just giddy, didn’t you know that?  They’re rolling in the money!   So ding them elsewhere.   Is that the idea?

This new and improved discount will actually be actuarially sound said they but for whom?   Not Ohio’s employers.

Here at Champion Personnel Systems, we have been and will always be a zero tolerant, drug free workplace.  We do it because it’s the right thing to do for all of our employees.   They all have the right to work in a safe environment and are well educated on how drug/alcohol use and abuse directly affects that safe environment.  But does the BWC really think dangling a rotten candied apple in front of our faces is something that would make us jump through their hoop?  Seriously?  How many employers will stop their drug free workplace program all together because of this, dare I say, scam?  Instead of creating a safer environment, the BWC is pushing employers the opposite direction.

A Great Workplace is one that does the right thing just because – not for the sake of false discounts.

This new and improved DFSP, in my opinion, is nothing more than a bad joke for Ohio’s employers.