Home > SID Information > Completing the circle of coverage: A look at our Safety Violations Investigation Unit

Completing the circle of coverage: A look at our Safety Violations Investigation Unit

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is one of only a few single-line workers’ compensation insurance companies in the country and has several service offerings to match its impressive title. Ohio’s complete circle of coverage to injured workers includes investigating violations of specific safety requirements (VSSR), which may result in a monetary award for injuries stemming from the workplace. Many times, these injuries are catastrophic. The Special Investigations Department’s Safety Violations Investigation Unit (SVIU) provides full-service investigations of an employer’s alleged violation of a specific safety requirement as outlined in the Ohio Administrative Code. Because these investigations examine the facts and determine the truth, they serve employers and injured workers.

Investigators’ work usually begins at the very end of the claims process. In cases of death, SVIU is typically one of the first responders on the scene along with police, ambulance and coroner investigators. The details following a catastrophic incident are vital to the VSSR process, and ultimately, to the award granted to workers or their estates.

“Even though our work is investigative in nature and all factual, a big part of our job is working one-on-one with both the employer and the worker,” said SVIU Supervisor Bill Garver. “The incidents we investigate can be life-altering for the injured worker, their families and the employer. We work tirelessly with the worker and employer to ensure a safe work place for all employees for the future.”

One example is the case of a metal fabrication industry worker whose injury was determined to be the result of his employer’s violation of a specific safety requirement. The worker sustained second and third-degree burns on his body after being splashed with caustic bath solution. The injury occurred while the worker, who wasn’t wearing any protective equipment, prepared metal for processing by removing surface solvents through high temperature chemical baths. After a comprehensive investigation with the employer and the worksite, an SVIU investigator interviewed the injured worker.

“Interviewing injured workers and employers can evoke raw emotion, causing increased anxiety,” an SVIU investigator has noted. “I understand that with each question I ask, I am bringing those involved right back to the day and moment of the incident.”

Conducting these types of investigations requires experience as an interviewer. The detailed chronicling of incident events originating from investigations and interviews allows the Ohio Industrial Commission to better assess whether the merits of Ohio’s safety violation requirements alleged were violated by the employer.

Safety violation additional awards granted by the Industrial Commission can range from 15 to 50 percent of Ohio’s average weekly wage and is paid directly to the injured worker. (The average weekly wage is the median weekly salary of all employees in the state of Ohio.) The monetary award granted to the injured worker is then directly billed – dollar for dollar – to the employer. Additionally, any such ruling can require the employer to correct violations that were determined the cause of the injury or death.

Learn more about VSSRs here.

Categories: SID Information

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