About Workers’ Comp

The Workers’ Compensation System

The Ohio Workers’ Compensation system is made up of two branches – the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), the administrative branch; and the Industrial Commission of Ohio (IC), the claims adjudicative branch. The BWC handles the daily processing of claims, and makes payments as appropriate. It monitors medical treatment, disability and return to work issues, and “medically manages” the claims with the help of outside companies called Managed Care Organizations (or “MCO’s” for short)


Occupational diseases vs. accidents

There are two main ways that the BWC classifies claims in the system. A worker with a claim has either an "injury" claim or an "occupational disease" claim. Most of thetime the distrinction does not mean a whle lot to workers or employers, but for attorneys and service companies who represent all parties in a claim, the difference can be important. The statute of limitations (the time in which a person has to file a new claim) is different, the legal requirements and proof are different, and the approach on whether a condition has been "aggravated" by work acitivty is different in an injury versus an occupational disease claim. Employers have to keep a record of all injuries and occupational diseases resulting in eight days or more of total disability. Disabilities resulting from occupational diseases differ in several ways from those resulting from accident:

  • An accident is the consequence of a sudden, unexpected, single occurrence that happened at a specific time and place, usually without warning. An occupational disease results from an injurious exposure over time to a substance or process that is common to the workplace but uncommon elsewhere.
  • An injury from an accident is usually diagnosed quickly, whereas the positive diagnosis of an occupational disease may take months or even years.
  • With few exceptions, injuries from accidents are not unusual in most businesses, but occupational diseases tend to be relatively rare.
  • The cause of an injury is generally easily detected, but the cause of an occupational disease can often affect a number of employees before that cause is identified and corrected.

Remember that this distinction is both a medical and a legal determination. All claims, when they are heard and determined by the Industrial Cmmission on the initial allowance of the claim itself, are now heard as both injuries AND occupational diseases together. Thus, a person can not file a claim "as an injury", and if it is ultimately denied, then go ahead and file another claim for the same problem as an "occupational disease".


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