Policy Effective Date: October 15,
It is the policy of the Ohio Bureau of
Workers’ Compensation (BWC) to provide fair and equitable treatment to all
employers in their dealings with BWC. In addition, BWC provides due
process of law in administrative hearings (e.g. Adjudicating Committees,
Administrator’s Designee hearings, Self-Insured Review Panel, Self-Insured
Employer Evaluation Board hearings).
In that regard, it is essential to
ensure that persons participating in administrative matters, receiving a
BWC-initiated premium audit or having contact with any other BWC staff member
have an opportunity to have their questions and concerns effectively expressed
in English. In addition, those persons who are not verbally competent in
English or are hearing impaired should have interpreter services sufficient to
ensure a full and fair interaction with BWC staff.
This policy applies to all BWC staff
requiring interpreter or sign language services in their dealings with Ohio
employers. This policy does not apply to Claimants (injured workers)
filing claims with BWC or appeals to the Industrial Commission.
Interpreter services for claimants are addressed in the BWC claims policy on
Bilingual Staff: BWC staff who have indicated
their ability to speak one or more foreign languages. Interpretation is
not their primary job function.
Any individual who can translate English into a
foreign language and back. These may be friends, relatives,
co-workers, employees, etc. of an employer, or a BWC staff member.
Interpreter: Interpreter possessing interpretation skills and employed as
an interpreter as part of their job. Professional interpreters are
neutral parties and are not associated with, nor have any monetary interest in
the proceedings. Professional interpreters provide on-site
services. BWC staff members and friends, relatives, co-workers,
employees, etc. of an employer who provide interpretation services are not
considered professional interpreters.
Any individual skilled in American Sign Language
(ASL). These may be friends, relatives, co-workers, employees,
etc. of an employer, or a BWC staff member. (As of October 2010, BWC does not
have any staff skilled in American Sign Language).
Signer: Individual skilled in American Sign
Language (ASL) and employed as a Signer as part of their job.
Professional signers are neutral parties and are not associated with, nor have
any monetary interest in the proceedings. BWC staff members and friends,
relatives, co-workers, employees, etc. of an employer who provide sign language
service are not considered professional Signers.
Services: A private professional interpreter service contracted by BWC to
provide over-the-phone interpreter services (does not provide on-site services)
of a Need
basic premise of BWC’s policy on interpreters for employers is that the
employer has the primary responsibility to identify a need in regards to
interpreters and/or sign language assistance. In most cases, the
non-English speaking or hearing impaired employer, by virtue of being an
employer, has already established its own procedures on how to address
potential language barriers when dealing with government agencies, suppliers, distributors, employees, customers, etc., whether through
family members, employees, friends, etc. BWC will not automatically
provide an interpreter but will do so in situations where the employer cannot
or will not provide their own.
virtually all cases, the employer is aware of the potential barriers and will
automatically provide its own interpreter or Signer when dealing with BWC (or
any other governmental agency). It is in situations where the employer or
the BWC staff has identified a need, and the employer cannot or will not
provide an interpreter or Signer, that this policy addresses.
fundamental question determinative of the issue of whether BWC provides an interpreter
is: “Can this contact between BWC and the employer potentially lead to a
negative impact on the employer (e.g. fines, penalties, additional premiums, or
in extreme cases, fraud charges or referral to other government agencies for
collections). If so, use of a professional
interpreter outside the control and influence of BWC should be used. A
professional interpreter is one that is provided by a contract with a private
agency, as opposed to using a BWC staff member that is bilingual or is skilled
in sign language.
situations addressed in this policy include
Management staff encounters with employers (e.g. Employer Services Specialists
processing an employer’s complaint, front counter staff initiating policy
coverage, field consultants working with an employer).
Additional situations not specified
above may also be covered by this policy.
pays for a professional interpreter, professional Signer and Tele-Interpreter
will pay for professional interpreters or professional Signers procured by
BWC. BWC will pay for these services using the Surplus Fund, or in the
case of Tele-Interpreters, through BWC’s contract with this service. BWC
will not pay for interpreters or Signers for self-insured employers or for
interpreters or signers provided by the employer.
to obtain the services of BWC bilingual staff, professional interpreters,
professional Signers or Tele-Interpreter (phone – assisted) services?
Bilingual Staff: Refer to the list
located on BWC’s internal web site under Divisions / Human Resources /
Interpreters/Professional Signers: If BWC determines a professional
interpreter or Signer is required on-site, contact the BWC Communications
Department staff. The Communications Department will make arrangements
for the services of a professional interpreter or professional Signer and
arrange for payment. BWC Communications can be contacted via e-mail at BWCComm@bwc.state.oh.us.
BWC staff can contact Tele-Interpreters directly by calling
1-866-531-9038. Instructions for contacting and using Tele-Interpreters
are located at the end of this policy.
Committee Hearings and Administrator Designee Hearings
interpretation services are the preferred method for Adjudicating Committee and
Administrator’s Designee hearings due to the nature of the activity being
conducted. However, telephonic interpretation services are acceptable.
an employer appearing before the Adjudicating Committee or Administrator’s
Designee, the employer may provide its own interpreter. In situations
where the employer cannot or will not provide an interpreter or Signer and BWC
believes due process can best be served by utilizing the services of a
disinterested professional interpreter or professional Signer, BWC will provide
the services of a professional interpreter or Signer at no cost to the
employer. Use of BWC bilingual staff or sign language proficient BWC
staff is not considered acceptable in these situations due to possible perception
of bias and/or competence.
employer must provide advance notice of this need. Usually, the BWC
scheduler will be contacting the employer to schedule a hearing. During
this person-to-person contact, the scheduler can usually identify a need for an
interpreter and recommend the employer bring someone with them. If
necessary, the scheduler can utilize the services of BWC bilingual staff to
explain the various options available to the employer. In the event an
employer presents itself before the Adjudicating Committee or
Administrator-Designee and the services of a language interpreter is deemed
necessary, the hearing, by mutual agreement, may be rescheduled to allow time
for the employer to obtain an interpreter, or for BWC to obtain the services of
a professional interpreter.
the employer wants to proceed with the hearing without its own interpreter,
then BWC may use the Tele-Interpreter services through a phone
conference. The Adjudicating Committee recording secretary will follow
the procedures outlined in this policy and initiate Tele-Interpreter services.
interpretation services are recommended for premium audits due to the nature of
the activity being conducted (i.e. reviewing financial documents).
audit schedulers will usually identify interpreter
needs during scheduling contacts with the employer. During this
person-to-person contact, the scheduler can identify a need for an interpreter
and recommend the employer have someone available on-site during the audit.
If the employer indicates it does not have its own
interpreter available, the scheduler will notify the auditor of that
need. If necessary, the scheduler can utilize the services of BWC
bilingual staff to explain the requirements of the audit.
Management staff come in contact with employers in numerous situations.
These may include explaining various BWC programs, answering employer
questions, initiating policy coverage, etc. These contacts are less
formal in nature and the assistance of a professional foreign language
interpreter is not required.
most effective solution is for the employer to provide interpreter services, as
the employer is in the best position to know what it needs. In the event
the employer does not provide interpreter services, the following guidelines
should be followed by BWC staff.
visit with employer
to allow employer time to obtain the services of an interpreter. If the
employer cannot obtain an interpreter, establish phone conference with BWC
bilingual staff member.
the event where an on-site interpreter is determined
to be critical, contact your supervisor and the service office manager
to discuss the possibility of having a BWC bilingual staff member accompany the
EM staff member to the employer’s location.
an on-site interpreter is determined critical and there are no qualified BWC
staff available, contact your supervisor and
the service office manager to discuss the possibility of having a professional
interpreter contracted to make an on-site visit at the employer’s location.
to allow employer time to obtain the services of a Signer.
the employer cannot obtain a Signer, the BWC staff should contact their supervisor
to schedule a professional Signer accompany the BWC staff to the employer at a
use of a bilingual BWC employee in the local office is preferable. If
there are no BWC staff available in the office, established a phone conference
with a bilingual BWC employee from another service office.
no BWC bilingual staff member is available within the
agency, EM staff can utilize the services of Tele-Interpreter for
over-the-phone interpreter services.
the event where a face-to-face interpreter is
determined to be critical and there is a BWC staff member available in another
service office, contact your supervisor and the service office manager
to discuss the possibility of having the BWC bilingual staff member travel to
the local service office.
Signer: If a
professional Signer is required, contact BWC communications to schedule a
for Obtaining and Recording Tele-Interpreter Services
The Ohio BWC contracts with Tele-Interpreters
of Monterey, California for phone assisted interpreter services. BWC
staff can contact Tele-Interpreters directly to request interpreter
services. Once the service has been provided, the BWC staff must record
the service provided into BWC’s data base for payment purposes.
Before initiating Tele-Interpreter
services, ask the employer if they are willing to use this service.
Ensure the employer that the interpreter is not a BWC employee. This will
help assure the employer that the interpretation will be impartial.
To obtain interpreter services
(Have either an extension phone or
speaker phone available before you initiate the Tele-Interpreters service)
keyboard (or provide Tele-Interpreter representative):
This is the account number assigned to BWC. BWC staff can view this
number by accessing BWC’s J-Drive and opening the file under J – Drive / EM –
Policy Tech / Tele-Interpreter Client Number. Note: The BWC client number is a confidential number and
should not be provided to non-BWC individuals.
Your A – number
Your first name
Press “1” for
Press “2” for
all other languages. Say the language you need at the prompt
will be connected to the call (interpreters identify themselves only first name
and number. Record this information for your records)
interpreter. Summarize what you wish to accomplish and give any special
non-English individual to the line (either via extension phone or speaker
Once call is
completed, say “End of Call” to interpreter
Recording the call on BWC’s Share
Point data base
Once the call is
completed, the BWC staff member is required to record the call on BWC’s Claims
On-Line Resources (COR) Tele-Interpreters Share Point data base.
To access the
share point site:
Use this link:
Go to BWC’s
Internet Explorer Browser / Task and Tools
Tools”, click on COR
Scroll down and
click on to Tele-Interpreters
Under “Tips and
Tools”, click on Tele-Interpreters Usage Data Base.
Once on the
Tele-Interpreters Usage Data Base:
Click on “New”
Fill in the 6
(click on the open book on the far right to obtain the correct employee name).
Employee’s A –
Office (click on the
drop down arrow and select appropriate office)
Comments: Enter 1- 2
sentence explanation of what you did with the employer (e.g. discussed One
Claim Program, used interpreter to assist with Adjudicating Committee hearing
regarding retroactive coverage, etc.)
When done, click
No further action is required of the BWC