I have yet another story that demonstrates the challenges businesses face in today’s environment. I.D. Images is a drug-free workplace. We recently hired someone. He had worked for us for less than a week. One morning, out of the view of everyone, he hurt his foot. (Many work place accidents happen when employees first report to work, with no one watching. I’m not cynical about that at all.) Per our policy, he had to take a drug test. He tested positive for marijuana. We denied his claim for Workers’ Compensation. According to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, he should not receive benefits. Pretty simple, right? Of course not.
The Ohio BWC did not accept our denial, saying he is entitled to workers’ compensation. We protested. To do so, we paid (out of our pocket) an additional amount for an additional review of the drug test by a BWC certified doctor. The doctor concluded drugs in his system “significantly impaired his judgment and significantly contributed to his injury.” Much to our surprise, the BWC upheld the decision, saying the doctor’s opinion does not constitute the “legal standard” for denying a claim.
I called the BWC, asking what the legal standard is. They faxed me a few pages of legalese. His marijuana levels were 6 times the limit in the BWC’s regulations. Because the doctor used the word “significantly”, the BWC felt he was not drugged up enough. We get one more chance to appeal. If we lose, he will be granted workers’ compensation for his bruised foot (medically known as a contusion).
It is situations like this that make me ponder the wisdom of owning a manufacturing business in today’s day and age. Don’t get me wrong; accidents happen and workers’ comp is a necessary system. Workers should be protected. We do what we can to mitigate accidents, including being a drug-free workplace. We are very proud of our safety record. It is now potentially tarnished. Ohio rates employers on their safety record. The more accidents, the more you pay. We had not had a lost time incident in 1,758 days prior to this incident. Now, we will potentially pay more in premiums because a bureaucrat didn’t like the letter our doctor wrote. What these bureaucratic enterprises don’t seem to understand is everything they do to make employers’ lives more difficult endangers the future of their bureaucracy. They are killing their golden goose. Free enterprise is the goose that lays the golden egg from which bureaucracies extract their pounds of flesh.