This Week in Comp, July 2

Turn up the heat on driver safety during the summer

Drunk driving claimed 200 lives on July 4, 2013. Click on the image for safety tips to keep in mind this holiday weekend.

Drunk driving claimed 199 lives on July 4, 2013. Click on the image for safety tips to keep in mind this holiday weekend.

The most dangerous days to be on the road are the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Drivers can protect themselves by being more aware of motorcycles, construction zones, children and drunk drivers…MORE

Insurance industry adds 6,000 jobs in May

The industry grew by 0.24 percent in May, and now sits at 2,539,800 employed insurance workers with an unemployment rate of 1.5 percent, compared with 5.5 percent across industries…MORE

Key factors in weathering disasters

Companies are increasingly turning to enterprise risk management, which is more comprehensive than traditional risk management, to weather disasters, according to a report by Sedgwick. Business continuity planning and disaster recovery are core elements businesses should consider…MORE

California workers’ comp losses and expenses for 2014 rise, ratios fall
Losses and expenses in the California workers’ comp system rose by a combined $1 billion in 2014. The combined loss and expense ratio for calendar year 2014 was 104 percent, down from calendar year 2013’s 108 percent ratio…MORE

CNA releases reports on opioid abuse in construction, manufacturing industries

Pills White BackgroundThe reports estimate that 15.1 and 6.5 percent of construction and manufacturing workers, respectively, have engaged in illicit drug use…MORE

How terrorism reinsurance law uncertainty affected market
A brief lapse in the Terrorism Reinsurance Act during 2015, coupled with uncertainty around whether Congress would renew the act, spurred some insurers to change their behavior, according to a Marsh report. For example, Marsh said that terrorism insurance take-up rates have been relatively stable since 2009. However, they dipped a bit in 2014 due to anxiety about whether Congress would renew the act. The new law will likely nudge the take-up rates of embedded TRIPRA coverage to revert to normal levels, the report said…MORE

Shakeup in top 10 workers’ comp writers: 2014 vs. 2009
Traditional market leaders Liberty Mutual and AIG have significantly reduced workers’ comp premiums over time to combat weaker underwriting performance and reduce longer-tail risk exposures. They have been replaced by the likes of Travelers and The Hartford at the top of the list…MORE

Regulatory roundup
Texas Mutual’s weekly digest of EHS-related news…MORE

Survey finds doctors misunderstand opioid abuse, continue overprescribing
Nearly half of doctors who participated in the survey incorrectly thought abuse-deterrent drugs were less addictive than their standard counterparts. Prescription drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990 and have never been higher…MORE

Fitness shoes

For more information on the symbiotic relationship between worker health and safety, click on the image to visit our Work Safe, Texas website.

Reuniting health and safety
Companies that treat employee health and employee safety as separate programs do so at the expense of the bottom line. By integrating the two functions, companies can cut costs and increase profits…MORE

Eat your way to a more energetic you
A balanced diet of energy-producing foods can help workers ward off fatigue and its potentially fatal consequences…MORE

Google offering railroad crossing alerts for drivers
Google will add audio and visual alerts to warn drivers about upcoming railroad crossings on its navigation system…MORE

New Mexico court rules farm, ranch laborers eligible for workers’ comp
Since 1930, employees whose duties focus primarily on growing and harvesting crops, meat or dairy products have been ineligible for workers’ comp benefits in New Mexico. The court’s decision stems from two separate cases in which individual workers injured on the job had their claims dismissed…MORE

Eat Your Way to a More Energetic You

A balanced diet includes sensible portions of the five primary food groups.

A balanced diet includes sensible portions of the five primary food groups.

Have you ever resolved to start eating healthy but eventually given up because didn’t know where to start? You’re not alone.

Expert nutritional advice seems as fickle as Central Texas weather. The good news is that if you don’t like what you’re hearing, give it a few years and it’ll change.

Three decades ago, Congress issued the first dietary guidelines and pinned America’s obesity epidemic squarely on fat. “Big food” responded with low-fat versions of chips, cereal, crackers and other household staples.

Unfortunately, when you remove fat from food, you often sacrifice taste. To make low-fat items palatable, manufacturers bumped the sugar content, which only facilitated our plunge toward obesity.

Today, many experts have redirected their efforts toward warning the public about the ill effects of excess sugar. The food companies have predictably introduced a range of sugar substitutes that promise to satisfy our sweet tooth while keeping us trim, fit and swimsuit-ready.

Given the veritable buffet of nutritional advice and fad diets, it can be difficult for even the most well-intentioned of us to know exactly what constitutes a healthy diet. What we do know is that the food we choose affects our body’s performance, including its ability to fight fatigue. Here are a handful of time-tested tips for eating your way to a more energetic you:

  • Consult your physician. Together, you can craft a nutritional plan that meets your unique needs.
  • Jump-start your day with a healthy breakfast.
  • Don’t skip meals. Studies published in Nutritional Health found that missing any meal during the day led to an overall greater feeling of fatigue.
  • Eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and foods that help you beat fatigue.
  • Avoid fried food, white bread, white potatoes, doughnuts, chips and other foods that trigger post-meal sleepiness.
  • Don’t be afraid to snack, but choose wisely. Energy-boosting snacks combine protein, a little fat and some fiber, such as peanut butter on a whole-wheat cracker.
  • Stay hydrated. Sometimes, when you feel tired, your body is trying to tell you it needs water. Keep a tall glass of water at your desk to make hydration easier
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants several hours before bed.
  • Steer clear of spicy and acidic foods at night. They can cause heartburn and derail your sleep.

Missed our last post?
This is the second in a series of four posts showing how a commitment to wellness can help workers manage fatigue. If you missed our first post, click here to read it. In our next post, we’ll share tips for working exercise into your daily grind.

More information on wellness
Worker health and safety are inseparable. Healthy workers tend to get injured less, and when they do get injured, they recover faster. For more information on the symbiotic relationship between health and safety, click on these links:

Why Wellness Matters in Workers’ Comp

10 Tips for Integrating Health and Safety

Worker Health and Safety: A Symbiotic Relationship

The Business Case for Employee Wellness Programs

3 Tips for a Healthier, Safer You

Make Wellness Part of Your Benefits Package

Driven to Distraction? Watch This Short Video

In 2013, more than 400 people died in distracted-driving related crashes on Texas roads. In this installment of our safe-driving video series, Woody Hill gives us something to think about the next time we’re tempted to use a cell phone behind the wheel. Follow his advice, and you might save your life or someone else’s. Not a bad return for a mere 60 seconds of your time.

Missed our other driving-safety videos?
If you missed the other installments in our “Become a Safer Driver in Just 60 Seconds” video series, click the links below:

You’re Just 60 Seconds Away from Being a Safer Driver

Going from 0 to 60 Safely

Sleep Well

Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep. Lack of sleep can affect your performance at work, which is especially dangerous when you get behind the wheel.

Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep. Lack of sleep can affect your performance at work, which is especially dangerous when you get behind the wheel.

The benefits of strong leadership in the military are a bit different than they are in the corporate world. When CEOs lead by example, stockholders make money. And making money makes most people happy.

When military officers lead by example, soldiers go home safely. And sending people home safely at the end of a day’s work should be every business’ priority.

Chad Storlie was the type of leader soldiers looked up to. As an Army Reserves Special Forces officer, Storlie modeled the behavior he wanted his troops to practice, right down to the naps he took during combat operations.

“I would go and take naps whenever the opportunity presented itself,” Storlie recalled in an article that appeared in the June 11, 2015, edition of Advisen FPN. “As the leader, you have to set the example. You have to practice what you preach.”

For Storlie, that meant making sure his body and mind were rested and ready to react on a moment’s notice. Two decades of military service that included stops in Iraq, Bosnia and Korea taught him that fatigue breeds poor decisions. Poor decisions, in turn, get you or your fellow soldiers killed.

The same principle applies in the workplace.

Fatigue is about four times more likely to contribute to on-the-job impairment than drugs or alcohol, according to studies cited by the American Society of Safety Engineers. Furthermore, impaired employees are more likely to be involved in workplace accidents, especially when they get behind the wheel.

If you exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet and manage stress, you can ward off fatigue and its potential consequences.

If you exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet and manage stress, you can ward off fatigue and its potential consequences.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that driver fatigue causes 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries each year. Many of those deaths and injuries happen when employees are driving on company business. In fact, motor vehicle accidents are consistently the leading cause of workplace fatalities across industries.

Employers looking to the reverse the trend typically turn to mandatory rest periods and limits on consecutive driving hours. Those are solid fundamentals of any fleet safety program, but don’t forget about another powerful, often-overlooked tool for combating fatigue: employee wellness.

Wellness programs prepare employees for the physical demands of their jobs. They also help ward off depression, obesity, diabetes and other factors that drain workers’ energy.

If you are among the thousands of small businesses that do not have a comprehensive employee wellness program, don’t worry. You can leverage a few basic wellness program components to fight fatigue in your workplace.

Up next
This is the first in a series of four posts showing how a commitment to wellness can help workers manage fatigue. In our next post, we’ll discuss how eating a balance, nutritious diet can deliver the energy you need to tackle your day.

More information on wellness
Worker health and safety are inseparable. Healthy workers tend to get injured less, and when they do get injured, they recover faster. For more information on the symbiotic relationship between health and safety, click on these links:

Why Wellness Matters in Workers’ Comp

10 Tips for Integrating Health and Safety

Worker Health and Safety: A Symbiotic Relationship

The Business Case for Employee Wellness Programs

3 Tips for a Healthier, Safer You

Make Wellness Part of Your Benefits Package

What’s Your Morning Routine?

This Week in Comp, June 26, 2015

Regulatory roundup
Texas Mutual’s weekly roundup of EHS news…MORE

What can the Dow Jones teach us about the value of integrating health and safety?

healthy livingA new model based on the methodology used in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index is helping researchers calculate the business value of integrating employee health and safety…MORE

Coventry covers new ground with fully transparent drug trend analysis
Coventry’s 2014 First Script Drug Trends Analysis includes nontraditional pharmacy channels such as billers for physician-dispensed medications, occupational-medicine clinics, third-party billers, external mail houses and compounding prescription sources…MORE

Going from 0 to 60 safely
Speeding is a common cause of motor vehicle accidents. In this short video, Texas Mutual’s Woody Hill shares tips for keeping your foot off the accelerator…MORE

Hiker goes to extremes while on workers’ comp
Handcuff FraudThe employee claimed he suffered an on-the-job foot injury. He failed to disclose, however, that he engaged in a 50-mile hike over rugged terrain just three weeks after he reported being injured at work…MORE

Jail time for Spokane-area man who used Seahawks’ names to get drugs
A Spokane Valley man has been sentenced to six months in jail for faking on-the-job injuries and using Seattle Seahawks players’ names to get narcotics and other prescription drugs…MORE

Why can’t we be tough on workers’ comp fraud?
From higher premiums for honest employers to unfair scrutiny of legitimately injured workers, everyone pays the price of fraud. Unfortunately, the system treats fraud as a victimless crime. We need to be tough on workers’ compensation fraud if want to see less of it, according to Bob Wilson, author of the widely read “From Bob’s Cluttered Desk” blog…MORE

Insurance law podcast discusses impact of social media on WC claims

Click the image above to listen to the podcast.

Click the image above to listen to the podcast.

The podcast explains how social media can be used to investigate and/or defend a workers’ compensation claim. The speaker recommends that an investigation begin early, but cautions that privacy issues and state law should be carefully considered.

 

Researcher has innovative idea to measure worker fatigue
Fatigue is about four times more likely to contribute to workplace impairment than drugs or alcohol, according to studies cited by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). A university researcher will use $300,000 in ASSE grant money to study a fatigue measurement system that combines FitBit technology with data analytics to identify the moment fatigue sets in…MORE

NIOSH awards two cooperative agreements for workers’ compensation surveillance
Under the agreements, NIOSH will issue $400,000 grants to help California and Massachusetts compile, analyze, and disseminate workers’ compensation data to promote the prevention of occupational injuries, illnesses, fatalities and exposure to hazards..MORE

New NCCI Inspections in Texas

NCCI_LogoTexas’ workers’ compensation system has undergone several changes in the last year as it continues to take steps toward fully becoming an NCCI state. The latest in those changes is the implementation of Classification Quality Assurance inspections.

Classification Quality Assurance inspections

As of June 1, 2015, NCCI now performs CQA inspections throughout Texas as a service to our marketplace to ensure that businesses are classified correctly, and therefore priced correctly.

These inspections are on site and are not safety related. Their only purpose is to evaluate whether or not the business’ classification is accurate. NCCI will choose businesses to inspect by using statistically-credible, non-random criteria. In other words, companies aren’t chosen at random and the inspections will most likely target classifications that have been known to have frequent misapplications.

For Texas Mutual policyholders, these inspections should not be a source of worry or concern. We expect that the overwhelming majority of CQA inspections will reaffirm the classification of our policyholders’ businesses. If an NCCI inspection results in a request to change a classification, we will evaluate their findings and discuss with our policyholders and agents prior to making any changes.

These inspections are a welcome addition to Texas’ workers’ compensation system as they will likely help ensure fair pricing and aid in monitoring for abuse that sometimes occurs.

Special inspections

NCCI has been offering Special inspections for Texas businesses since June 1, 2014. These inspections are available at a cost to the requestor to provide third party analysis of a policy classification.

Texas Mutual conducts its own classification inspections and therefore does not request NCCI inspections. We are confident in our understanding of the classification system and work hard to ensure that businesses are placed correctly. However, policyholders and their agents may request an NCCI Special Inspection if they believe that they are misclassified and haven’t been able to reach a resolution with their carrier. At Texas Mutual, classification disputes can be made by contacting your agent or underwriter.

What these inspections mean for businesses

If your business is chosen for a CQA inspection, there is nothing to be concerned about. As mentioned above, inspectors are not there to evaluate workplace safety or OSHA compliance. They are simply there to ensure that the business’ classification is accurate. According to NCCI, an inspector visits the policyholder’s business and documents the type of work being conducted (e.g., process, materials, equipment, final product) and the employees performing the work. From that documentation, the inspector develops a detailed classification inspection report.

These inspections should bring minimal interruption to businesses and in most cases reaffirm Texas Mutual’s classification. If you have any questions about NCCI inspections, contact your agent or underwriter or call Texas Mutual at (800) 859-5995. If you’d like information about other NCCI changes taking place this year, visit texasmutual.com/NCCI.

Going from 0 to 60 Safely

Have you ever been speeding through the grocery store and collided with another shopper? A quick “clean-up on aisle 9,” and it was probably back to business as usual.

Speeding in your vehicle can have far more serious consequences.

In 2013, there were approximately 3,200 speeding-related crashes in the Lone Star State. More than 250 of our fellow Texans died in those crashes.

In this installment of our safe-driving video series, Texas Mutual’s Woody Hill shares his tips for keeping your foot off the accelerator. Follow Woody’s advice, and you might save your life or someone else’s. Not a bad return for a mere 60 seconds of your time.

If you missed our first safe-driving video, click here.

Don’t miss our next installment
In our next video installment, Woody addresses an issue that has reached epidemic proportions on U.S. roads: distracted driving