Regulatory Roundup, January 12

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

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA struggles to fill inspector positions

As of Oct. 2016, OSHA had lost 40 inspectors with no effort underway to fill the vacancies. Since then, OSHA has acknowledged the need for more manpower, hired several inspectors and is currently recruiting over 24 more. However, the previous hiring freeze and uncertainty about future funding are making it more challenging to staff the positions…MORE

Trump resubmits Scott Mugno’s nomination

Trump has resubmitted Scott Mugno’s nomination to head OSHA as the assistant secretary of labor. This move was required due to the Senate not confirming the appointment before the end of the legislative term last month. Mugno will once again appear before the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to present his case…MORE

OSHA fines increase to adjust for inflation

The maximum OSHA and Mine Safety and Health Administration penalties have been increased about one percent due to inflation. This introduces a new maximum penalty of $12,934 to several OSHA violations: serious, other than serious, failure to correct and violation of posting requirements. Willful and serious violations can now be penalized up to $129,336…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

Seattle business owner faces manslaughter charges after trench collapse

The owner of a Seattle construction company was charged with second-degree manslaughter stemming from a 2016 incident in which one of his employees died in a trench collapse. This is the first time that a workplace fatality in Washington has led to a felony charge, and shows employers that they can be held criminally accountable. The owner also faces a gross misdemeanor for violating a labor safety regulation, resulting in death…MORE

Workplaces see expansion of health and wellness offerings

According to a survey of HR managers, about 66 percent of companies have broadened health and wellness options in the past five years. Several innovative ways companies are focusing on wellness were noted, including providing free massages, offering onsite personal trainers and offering onsite exercise and cooking classes. Based on these trends, not offering health and wellness benefits could put a company at a disadvantage in recruitment and retention…MORE

How to fulfill your new year’s resolutions in the workplace

dumbbell and apple with measuring tapeIt’s a new year, and gym-goers are filled with high ambitions for a healthier lifestyle. It’s likely some of this determination will taper off, so we are sharing practical solutions that are easy for you and your employees to sustain year round. Wellness is one of the best investments you can make. Keep reading to find our top tips for wellness and how you can make a difference in your workplace in 2018.

Healthy choices

  • Drink eight glasses of water a day. Encourage your employees to bring water bottles to work. Consider providing them with company-branded ones to help them achieve their recommended water intake.
  • Eat more fruits and veggies. Try providing complimentary fruits or vegetables or recruit team members to help stock the fruit bowl.
  • Skip the soda. Lay off the sugary beverages and try offering sparkling or infused water options in vending machines or during company events.

Get active

  • Opt for the stairs. Add posters in the stairways that commend your employees for taking the extra steps and posters in the elevators that encourage them to make the change.
  • Move more. Try leading group stretch breaks or conduct walking meetings.
  • Team effort. Consider finding a group 5K or walking challenge to give your employees a common goal to work toward.

Strike a balance

  • Quality time off. Help your employees maximize their time away from work by letting them disconnect when they are off duty.
  • Give back. A great way to boost morale and build comradery is through community volunteer events. Try organizing a community giving event at a local soup kitchen or make care packages to donate to area shelters. See some of our TXM for Texas projects at Texas Mutual for inspiration.
  • Stay away if you’re sick. A healthy workplace is a more productive one. Encourage your employees to take the time they need to recover from illnesses to help prevent the spread of germs.

As a leader in your organization, you have the opportunity to set an example for your employees. Your actions speak volumes about the tone and vision you have for your employee’s wellness in the new year. See why wellness pays and find more tips for a healthier workplace.

From all of us at Texas Mutual, we wish you and your employees a prosperous and healthy 2018.

Safety focus on caught-in/between hazards

Construction assessmentWorking with any type of equipment can expose your workers to safety risks, and one of the most common hazards in the construction industry is getting caught in or between equipment. Oftentimes, these types of incidents are deadly. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, contact with objects and equipment was the cause of almost 15 percent of workplace fatalities in 2014. Caught-in/between incidents are also one of OSHA’s Focus Four hazards for the construction industry.

Keeping your workers safe takes working smarter and safer through consistent training and education. We’ve gathered some of the best resources to help you avoid these incidents in your workplace. Get started with five quick tips, in addition to coordinating e-Learning courses and other resources below.

Safety tips

  1. Never place yourself between moving equipment and an immovable structure or other equipment.
  2. Always power down equipment when you exit a vehicle, and set the parking brake, if available.
  3. If the vehicle or equipment is on an incline, chock the wheels.
  4. Flaggers or spotters should wear high visibility clothing.
  5. Vehicles or equipment should only be operated on roadways or grades that are safely constructed.

Texas Mutual’s Safety Services Support Center offers more than 2,000 resources to our policyholders in the form of e-Learning training courses, videos, training presentations, and more. Below you’ll find a list of relevant courses to help your workplace avoid caught in or between hazards.

e-Learning courses
e-Learning is Texas Mutual’s newest interactive training tool. With e-Learning, employers can assign training, view results, send announcements and keep records easily. Here are four recommended courses to help you avoid this Focus Four hazard:

  • Construction safety
  • Equipment hazards
  • Heavy equipment safety
  • Heavy equipment visibility

To access e-Learning, log in to your texasmutual.com account, select the Safety tab and choose e-Learning.

You can find more Focus Four resources on the OSHA website. If you have questions, we encourage our policyholders to call our safety services support center at 844-WORKSAFE (967-5723) between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST.

Regulatory Roundup, January 5, 2018

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

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Industry challenges to silica rule are rejected

Industry groups petitioned for review of five issues regarding the silica rule that went into effect last year. Their objections centered around whether there was substantial evidence to support the stricter regulations, but all five objections were rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals…MORE

Second annual Safe + Sound Week scheduled for August

The second annual Safe + Sound Week has been scheduled for Aug. 13-19. OSHA, the National Safety Council and NIOSH are among the organizations teaming up to promote awareness. Employers are encouraged to host events and promote safety and health programs during that week…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

Trump administration pushes for lessening of offshore drilling regulations

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement published new regulations for devices used during offshore oil production. Many oil and gas officials applauded the decision, and have previously said that the Obama administration overreached on the rules put in place after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The proposal does not reverse all existing regulations, but minimizes some of the industry’s obligations. There is a 30-day comment period on the proposed changes…MORE

Tips for fall protection

Four out of the top 10 most common OSHA violations during 2016 involved falls. Occupational Health & Safety magazine posted an article explaining different strategies for fall protection training and what types of challenges manufacturers are facing…MORE

Safety infographic released for the oil and gas industry

The fatality rate in the oil and gas industry was seven times higher than any other industry from 2003-2010. Graphic Products has released an informative infographic showing statistics and safety tips…MORE

WorkWell, TX: Your first stop on the way to wellness

At Texas Mutual, we are committed to helping our policyholders prevent workplace injuries, but if the unexpected happens, we are by your side. One of the ways we do that is through our health care network option, which allows us to source the highest quality medical providers who share a commitment to helping your workers return to a productive life. That way your workers have access to quality care when they need it, and we help you manage your claim costs.

We recently launched our new health care network, WorkWell, TX, which we built with you and your injured workers in mind. Watch the video below to learn more.

If you were already enrolled in the network option, you were automatically enrolled in WorkWell, TX as of January 1 and you can expect a smooth transition. Reporting injuries, locating providers and working with Texas Mutual will work in the same way as it did in the Texas Star Network. And, you’ll still receive a network discount. Here’s what you should know:

  • All injuries occurring January 1, 2018 or later will be treated in the WorkWell, TX network, while injuries that occurred before that date will continue to be treated in the Texas Star Network.
  • Our provider directory is available online and through our network app. Click here to find a WorkWell, TX provider.
  • If you have not already, download and print the English or Spanish version of the Notice of Network Requirements. Post this packet in a common area where your employees will see it.
  • You have until December 31, 2018 to have your employees sign new network acknowledgement forms either with paper copies or through our e-Learning tool. Watch this video or review this information sheet to learn how to use e-Learning to complete the acknowledgement forms. You can find the form on our website to print paper copies.

In WorkWell, TX, Texas Mutual contracts directly with providers, allowing us to select those who offer the highest quality care and are focused on helping your workers.

Enrolling in the network is an option available to all Texas Mutual policyholders. We look forward to offering an exceptional level of care and even better results in WorkWell, TX. Talk to your agent if you are interested in joining and find more information on texasmutual.com.

Regulatory Roundup, Dec. 22

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

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

ITA will remain open until the end of the year

Due to the amount of user confusion, OSHA has announced that the injury tracking application (ITA) will remain open through midnight on Dec. 31.  Any employers that still need to submit their Form 300A must do so before January…MORE

OSHA will propose changes to electronic submission requirement

OSHA has proposed making 300A forms the only ones required for electronic data submission. As it stands now, employers with 250 or more employees would be required to submit the 300, 300A and 301. The proposed change stems from concern about the possible release of personally identifiable information…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

Workplace fatalities at the highest level since 2008

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report on fatal workplace injuries, showing that 5,190 workers died in 2016. This marks a seven percent increase from 2015 and the highest number since 2008. Texas had the highest number of deaths…MORE

A different approach to the top 10 list

Lifeline Strategies posted an article arguing for a more in-depth approach to the top 10 violation list that OSHA releases each year. The article argues that although it is important to be aware of safety trends, the violations may not encompass all safety concerns at your company. It also explains that the number of violations and amount of fines tell more about what’s going on with OSHA enforcement than within businesses. For instance, the total violations have decreased 15 percent since 2015…MORE

How to keep new employees safe on the job

new employee forkliftMore than half of the 2.9 million workplace injuries and illnesses that occurred in 2015 involved days away from work, job transfers, or days with restricted job duties, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of these injuries and illnesses occur among new employees, but that includes more than just brand new employees. It also includes people who transfer to a new position, return to work after an extended absence, operate a new piece of equipment or implement a new procedure.

Keeping your employees safe on the job means ensuring safety among every employee in every role. Here are a few safety tips to help you bridge the gap on safety training for your new employees.

Start early, and be thorough

The sooner new employees start practicing safe work behaviors, the more likely those behaviors are to become habits. Don’t just explain what to do; take time to explain what not to do and what the consequences may be if safe work procedures are not followed. Ask employees to repeat procedures or tasks until you are confident they can do the job safely.

Follow-up training should be part of the new employee orientation process. Those first days at a new job are filled with many new procedures, rules and activities. Frequent follow-up gives new employees the opportunity to ask questions with less hesitation. When new employees consistently demonstrate they understand the new task, less frequent follow-up is necessary. If employees do not understand a procedure, encourage them to ask questions. It takes more than one day to turn a new employee into a safe, productive worker.

Provide a clear and concise safety policy

New employees need to know there is a comprehensive commitment to safety throughout the company. Put your commitment in writing, and make it visible for new staff, as well as current personnel. It is critical that new employees avoid taking risks. Encourage them to ask questions if they do not understand safety procedures. New employees have to trust that management will not reprimand them for seeking help.

Enforce this simple rule among all employees, including new employees: If a task or action makes you uncomfortable or raises a concern, don’t do it!

Think prevention

Most injuries can be avoided if employees learn to recognize unsafe situations. Encouraging new employees to think about prevention will make them more aware of unsafe practices and better prepared to help their co-workers.

Management takes the lead

Management often relies on employees to report unsafe conditions or hazards in the workplace. Therefore, employees must feel comfortable approaching a manager or supervisor about these conditions. Employees should not be reprimanded for reporting unsafe working conditions. If management demonstrates a commitment to safety, new employees are likely to follow their lead.

Observe often, and provide feedback

While new employees are learning and adapting to the job, it is essential to observe and monitor their work practices and behaviors. Observation helps to determine whether new employees are taking safety training to heart. It also creates an opportunity for supervisors to provide feedback on a new employee’s performance.

Make safety resources available

Providing employees with clear, written communications about your company’s safety expectations and practices is key to ensuring there is a consistent message about workplace safety.

Remembering these precautions when introducing a new hire to the company’s safety practices can greatly increase efficiency, productivity, morale and profitability. More importantly, it can prevent accidents and injuries.

As you get ready for the New Year and prepare for internal changes and new hires at your business, follow these guidelines to prevent workplace injuries. Visit the safety resource center of your texasmutual.com account for more than 2,000 free resources, including 200 e-Learning courses to keep your employees safe.

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