Regulatory Roundup, December 8

Regulatory Roundup is a weekly compilation of employee wellness and safety news.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

What to do after an OSHA citation

The Business Journals released an article outlining the three things you need to do after receiving a citation from OSHA. The article explains proper procedures for posting a copy of each citation, carefully reviewing each citation and its associated penalty, and then working on abatement…MORE

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Proposed respirator leakage standards rule withdrawn

Due to evidence provided during the public comment period, NIOSH withdrew a notice of proposed rulemaking that would have established standards for total inward leakage of half-mask air-purifying particulate respirators. Stakeholder input said that the requirements might not improve performance of NIOSH-approved respirators and could remove well-performing respirators. There was also concern that the cost could outweigh any benefits. NIOSH has decided to pursue improvements through developing national and international consensus standards instead…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

Graphics available on transportation fatalities

The National Transportation Safety Board revealed that 39,339 people died in transportation accidents in 2016 – 2,030 more than in 2015. Highway, marine and railroad sectors saw increases, while aviation saw a slight decline. The board released charts showing a breakdown for each mode…MORE

Tips for preventing a cold and the flu

Each year, about one billion colds are caught and five to 20 percent of the U.S. population catches the flu. The National Safety Council provided a 5-minute safety document containing tips on staying healthy, symptoms of the flu and  colds, as well as how to stop the spread of germs if you do become ill…MORE

Tips for warehouse safety

Fatality, injury and illness rates for warehouse workers are above the national average for other industries. The EHS Daily Advisor released an article detailing the most common injuries and hazards in warehouses, including forklift accident, unsafe lifting, slips and falls and struck-by injuries. The article also provides tips on how to prevent them…MORE

More CMV drivers are wearing seatbelts

A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration survey found that 86 percent of commercial truck and bus drivers wore seatbelts in 2016. This statistic is up by 21 percent from 2007 and two percent from 2013. However, the administration is still adamant that the number should reach 100 percent…MORE

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Stepping up for family after a workplace accident

More than 500 Texas families lost loved ones to workplace accidents in 2015. This is what drives Texas Mutual to promote safety, so that workplace deaths can be prevented. But if the unthinkable happens and a worker is involved in a catastrophic accident, our commitment extends to their family. It’s one of our most important responsibilities.

One of the ways we support surviving family members is through our scholarship program, which offers scholarships to qualified surviving family members of employees who die from an on-the-job accident.

On April 15, 2013, Morgan Carmichael became one of those whom Texas Mutual supports when her father died in a traffic accident on the job. Watch her story below.

It’s impossible to go back to normal after losing a family member, but it’s our mission to set children and spouses up for success. With a scholarship from Texas Mutual, Morgan is able to go to college without worrying how to pay for her tuition.

Our scholarship program is one of the ways we put our commitment to creating a stronger, safer Texas into action. The Texas Mutual Scholarship Program has distributed $600,390 in college funds to the dependents of catastrophically injured workers since 2001, with more than $85,000 awarded in 2017.

Learn more about our scholarship program on our website and see how to apply. To learn more about how we are making a difference in our great state, visit TXM for Texas.

4,000 newer Texas Mutual policyholders earn dividends

More than 68,000 business owners rely on Texas Mutual to meet the needs of 1.4 million workers every day. We have a responsibility to promote safety and help prevent workplace injuries, and that’s why we recognize the great efforts that many businesses take to keep these workers safe.

One way we recognize our policyholders who share our commitment to safety is through our dividend program. As we announced earlier this year, Texas Mutual distributed a record $260 million in dividends. We recently completed the final phase of the dividend payout by distributing $3 million to 4,000 newer policyholders who are already exhibiting safe workplaces.

Early qualifier dividend recipients are those who haven’t been a Texas Mutual policyholder long enough to qualify for a regular dividend but are implementing safe practices in their businesses. This includes those who have a good loss ratio on their first-year policy with Texas Mutual and have renewed with us during the first half of the year. Early qualifier dividends allow us to reward newer policyholders for their safe habits sooner. Watch the video below to learn more about our dividend program

You can find more than 2,000 safety resources in your Texas Mutual account, exclusive to policyholders, to support the safety culture at your workplace. We offer online training with our new e-Learning, posters, flyers and videos, available in both English and Spanish, to help you keep your workers safe. Workplace accidents can disrupt production and morale, and when you do your part to avoid them, we do our part to take notice.

Policyholders who earn a dividend can use the funds to support their safety programs, or invest it right back in to the bottom line. See how some of our policyholders celebrated their dividends earlier this year. Visit texasmutual.com/ownershippays to learn more about our dividend program.

Rebuilding after Harvey with Texas Mutual’s help

The Houston area was devastated by Hurricane Harvey this fall. The disaster was personal for Texas Mutual because it affected our own employees and many of the businesses that contribute to Texas’ economy. In response, we launched a $10 million grant program for policyholders just 10 days after the storm hit.

Policyholders could apply for up to $10,000 each to help with their recovery, and more than 1,100 business owners received a grant. Each one was affected in a different way, but what they all had in common was the drive to rebuild and the help they received along the way.

Kevin Topek Permaculture DesignsKevin Topek, owner of Permaculture Design LLC located in Bellaire, is a perfect example of that. His landscape design and installation company has been in the Houston area for 16 years and focuses on creating natural habitats and ecosystems.

Ninety-five percent of his neighborhood was completely flooded by Hurricane Harvey. The storm brought two feet of water into his business’ sheds. Many tools were damaged from the floodwaters, requiring extensive man hours to repair, while others needed replacement. After the storm subsided, Kevin’s business took in non-paying jobs so he could help his neighbors with disaster cleanup.

Kevin’s insurance agent, Jan Weatherton of Harco Insurance, contacted him and suggested he apply for a Hurricane Harvey relief grant from Texas Mutual. Using his phone’s sluggish hot spot to connect to the internet on his computer, Kevin detailed the damage his business had suffered: gasoline power tools and lawn mowers were submerged, organic fertilizer and pest control materials were waterlogged and ruined, and dozens of hand tools that were exposed to water became rusty, unusable equipment.

Texas Mutual employees worked tirelessly to process the relief grant applications we received and get responses quickly to policyholders. About one week after submitting his application, Kevin received an email notification letting him know he was approved for a grant. In his words, the response left him “gobsmacked.” He was completely stunned. The check arrived just three days later, giving him the means to start rebuilding his business. Kevin was able to quickly process paychecks for his two employees and put the remaining funds back into his business to help ease the burden during recovery.

In Texas, it is not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, but for Kevin, “it’s the right thing to do and I can’t imagine not doing it.” After receiving the grant funds, Kevin expressed his appreciation for Texas Mutual for helping to keep his business afloat in a challenging time.

“They have my loyalty as long as I’m in business in Texas,” he said.

Regulatory Roundup, December 1

Regulatory Roundup is a weekly compilation of employee wellness and safety news.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Two-week extension provided for electronic reporting

OSHA has announced a two-week deadline extension for employers to electronically submit their injury and illness data because of website downtime in August. Affected employers must submit their data by Dec. 15…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

Safety Training Evaluation Process (STEP) improves safety performance by 87 percent

The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) announced that its safety benchmarking and improvement tool led to as much as an 87 percent reduction in total recordable injury rates for participating businesses. The Safety Training Evaluation Process (STEP) gives employers a roadmap using six specific leading indicators to show how the organization is approaching its safety culture…MORE

Employees report elevated stress during holidays

A recent survey found that 35 percent of people feel more work-related pressure during the holiday season. Balancing holiday events, work obligations and increased workload were highest among the factors causing stress. Surveyed employees said that higher year-end bonuses, more flexible work schedules and more paid vacation would be helpful changes…MORE

Safety and health budgets expected to increase in 2018

A recent international study of environmental health and safety (EHS) directors showed that budgets will increase by about 5.4 percent in 2018 due to investments in technology. Reportedly, the areas of focus will be in technology spending, worker safety, EHS consulting and reducing greenhouse gas emissions…MORE

Tips for working in the cold

Winter weather can bring hazardous conditions for outdoor workers. Three main factors to consider are temperature, wind and moisture. Limiting exposure to cold temperatures can help prevent cold stress, frostbite, hypothermia and trench foot…MORE

How to avoid OSHA’s top 10 most-cited violations

Every year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) releases a list of the top 10 most frequent workplace safety violations. OSHA shares this list to help you avoid the violations in your workplace and keep employees safe. Earlier this month, Texas Mutual reviewed OSHA’s 2017 top 10 list in our policyholder webinar and discussed how to reduce your risk and maintain compliance. Our webinar includes visuals to help you understand these OSHA standards and the most common violations. You can watch the webinar here, or keep reading for a recap.

Each standard and its associated OSHA code are included below. The codes beginning with “1926” are standards specific to the construction industry, and those beginning with “1910” apply to other general industries.

Fall protection1 – Fall protection– OSHA wrote 6,072 citations in the construction industry for unprotected edges, open sides and failure to provide fall protection. To meet these requirements and keep employees safe, guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems must be used when an employee is working on an unprotected side or edge that is six feet or more above a lower level. OSHA code: 29 CFR 1926.501

2- Hazard communication – Hazard communication came in second with 4,176 violations. The most frequent violations included lack of a hazard communication program, no safety data sheets, and not providing access to safety data sheets. Train your employees on your written hazard communications program to avoid these violations in your own workplace. Your employees should know where the safety data sheets are kept, as well as know how to read them and read chemical labels. OSHA code: 29 CFR 1910.1200

3- Scaffolding – There were 3,288 violations related to scaffolding in the construction industry. Improper access to surfaces and lack of guardrails were the most frequently violated requirements. Scaffolds must be designed by a qualified person and inspected daily. The scaffold needs to be used according to design and employees need to be trained on working safely on a scaffold. They must wear hardhats if the scaffold is 10 feet or higher. OSHA code: 29 CFR 1926.451

4 – Respiratory protection – Coming in at number four is respiratory protection, with 3,097 violations for failure to establish a respiratory protection program or failure to provide medical evaluations. To reduce the risk of receiving a citation from OSHA, employers should have a written respiratory protection program. A respiratory protection program will establish practices and procedures for respirator use including guidelines for training, selection, proper storage, use and care of respirators. Fit testing and medical evaluations should be included in your respiratory protection program. OSHA code: 29 CFR 1910.134

5 – Lockout/tagout – The lockout/tagout standard was cited 2,877 times, with the most frequent violations for inadequate worker training and missing or incomplete inspections. Lockout/tagout should take place whenever the servicing or maintenance of machines happens. You should have documentation for this procedure covering the steps to turn off, de-energize, lock and tag machinery while servicing it, keeping the machinery in a de-energized state to avoid an unexpected start up. OSHA code: 29 CFR 1910.147

ladder6 – Ladders – Ladder standards were cited 2,241 times in the construction industry for improper use, damaged ladders, and the use of the top step. To avoid this violation in your workplace, make sure you and employees always choose the proper ladder for the job. Consider the height of the work, the surface the ladder will rest on, whether or not electricity will be involved, and what the maximum intended load will be when selecting the ladder.

Employees should be trained on how to inspect ladders before each use to avoid using a damaged ladder. Damaged ladders should be labeled “Do Not Use” and should be removed from use. When using a ladder, always face forward using the three-point contact rule, and do not stand on the top rung of the ladder. OSHA code: 29 CFR 1926.1053

7 – Powered industrial trucks – The powered industrial trucks regulation was cited 2,162 times. The most frequently violated requirements included inadequate worker training, as well as inadequate refresher training. Power industrial trucks include forklifts, tractors, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks and other specialized industrial trucks.

Employees must be given formal instruction, practical training and an evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace. This training must be conducted by someone who has knowledge, training and experience to train employees and evaluate their competence. Retraining is required for situations following an accident, or if the vehicle is seen being used in an unsafe manner. OSHA code: CFR 1910.178

8 – Machine guarding – This general industry citation was given 1,933 times for instances of no machine guards and exposure to points of operation. Machine guarding must be used to prevent the operator and other employees in the area from hazards created by the point of operation, nip points, rotating parts, flying chips, and sparks. The point of operation is the area on a machine where the work is performed on the material being processed. The guard must not create any new hazards or interfere with the standard operations of the machine. OSHA code: 29 CFR 1910.212

9 – Fall protection – training requirements – This standard, which was cited 1,523 times, is new to the OSHA top 10 list and is specific to the construction industry. The most common violations were failing to train workers on identifying fall hazards and failure to train them on the proper use of fall protection equipment. To avoid this violation at your workplace, employees should be trained in a language they understand. Training should cover recognizing the hazards of falling and how to minimize those hazards with different types of fall protection. Employees should also know how to inspect their fall protection equipment. OSHA code: 1926.503

Electrical box10 – Electrical-wiring methods– With 1,405 violations, electrical-wiring methods was number 10 on the list of the most-commonly cited OSHA standards in 2017. OSHA found boxes not covered correctly and too many or overloaded wires as the most frequent offenses. Any conductors entering boxes must be protected from abrasion and any unused opening must be effectively closed. Additionally, boxes must be fitted with a cover identified for the purpose. Conductors should also be protected against overheating due to motor overloads. OSHA code: 29 CFR 1910.305

Texas Mutual policyholders can access resources to help avoid these violations by logging into texasmutual.com and clicking the Safety tab. Our resource center includes a sample respiratory protection program, lockout/tagout e-Learning training and ladder safety posters in multiple languages, among thousands of other resources. Additionally, our safety services support center can help you to identify hazards in your workplace to help you stay off OSHA’s radar. Call 844-WORKSAFE (967-5723) to speak to a safety services representative.

All employers can access free safety resources at worksafetexas.com.

The three-minute videos helping your employees receive better medical care

The health care industry is evolving every day with rapid growth particularly in digital health technologies like smart watches, calorie counter apps and pedometers. Patients can benefit from this transition when there is a united front between quality care and digital innovation.

Workplace diagnosis body map and logoKnowing how to diagnose a workplace injury like trigger finger requires training and experience in occupational medicine. That’s why Texas Mutual is addressing the need for innovation in the treatment of workplace injuries. Texas Mutual’s medical director, Dr. Nicholas Tsourmas, is helping to lead this effort, and one of the ways he is doing so is through Workplace Diagnosis. The tool is the first online, real-time patient diagnosis video tool for physicians treating workers’ comp patients.

By visiting texasmutual.com or using our mobile app, physicians can select an area of the body to watch a video and learn about specific injuries. Each video averages three minutes and features Dr. Tsourmas with a patient discussing a common workplace injury and offering tips on how to diagnose it.

Dr. TsourmasDr. Tsourmas was recently recognized for his achievements in the workers’ compensation health care field when he received the Medical Professional of the year award at Work Comp Central’s Comp Laude Awards. His work is helping ensure that Texans with occupational injuries are accurately diagnosed and treated, and have options for modified job duties during recovery.

Dr. Tsourmas has been with Texas Mutual since 1993. Since then, he has traveled throughout the state to give onsite training to our network providers and educate the medical community on workers’ comp and musculoskeletal ailments. The same training he shares with providers throughout the state is shared with Texas Mutual’s team of adjusters to improve the claim process for injured workers and give our team the tools to understand doctors’ recommendations.

At Texas Mutual, we put a lot of effort into preventing workplace injuries, but when they do occur, we are dedicated to making sure that the injured workers we cover receive the quality care they need. Innovative resources like Workplace Diagnosis are a part of that collective effort. Dr. Tsourmas’ recognition is reflective of his leadership in these areas and speaks to our ongoing commitment to creating a stronger, safer Texas.

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