Construction Group Earns $1.5M Texas Mutual Dividend

Texas Mutual Insurance Company announced a $1,518,727 workers’ compensation dividend to the Texas Construction Association (TCA) purchasing group today. The dividend was based largely on the group’s premium volume and loss ratio.

TCA has earned $8,606,041 in group dividends since 2005.

By committing to workplace safety and helping injured workers return to productive employment, TCA members improve their chances of qualifying for future dividends.*

In addition to potential dividends, TCA members get a discount on their workers’ compensation premium. They also have access to free industry-specific safety materials, including online videos, pamphlets, DVDs and a written safety plan.

Any licensed Texas agent can submit qualifying clients for consideration in TCA.

*Past dividends are not a guarantee of future dividends. The Texas Department of Insurance must approve all dividends.

Court Orders Employer to Repay $104K to Texas Mutual

Texas Mutual Insurance Company announced today that a Travis County district court sentenced Cheryl Bussey of Mansfield, Texas on workers’ compensation fraud-related charges. The court sentenced Bussey to 10 years’ deferred adjudication and ordered to her repay $103,851 to Texas Mutual.

Bussey was the owner of Trans X Corp, a temporary employment agency in Arlington, Texas. Bussey was involved in a scheme to conceal the number of employees and annual payroll of Trans X Corp from Texas Mutual.

Because workers’ compensation insurance premium is based in part on payroll, such a scheme results in a business paying less premium than it actually owes. By paying less premium, an employer can gain an unfair advantage over competitors.

Keeping Workers Safe During Gulf Shore Cleanup

Now in its third month, the Gulf Coast oil spill has created many safety hazards for wildlife and for people involved in cleanup efforts. Texas Mutual Insurance Company, the state’s leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance, urges employers and employees helping out with the oil spill to take extra precautions during these efforts.

The April 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill released crude oil from the explosion of an off-shore drilling rig. During an oil spill cleanup, workers may encounter many types of crude oil—including fresh and weathered—which contain carcinogenic volatile aromatic compounds, such as benzene, toluene and naphthalene. The heavy and medium parts of the weathered oil are generally the focus of any cleanup.

“We commend these workers who are involved in the oil spill cleanup in the Gulf,” said Ron Wright, president of Texas Mutual. “But we also hope that they continue this process with their own safety in mind. It’s a job that presents many hazards, and we want to be sure they are aware of on-the-job dangers.”

Being aware of potential safety hazards will help workers know what to watch for during the cleanup process. There are a number of hazards employees and employers should be aware of during shoreline and vessel operations, including:

  • Heat stress
  • Sunburn and sun poisoning
  • Skin and eye irritation or rashes from contact with “weathered oil”
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Being hit by earthmoving equipment
  • Bites from snakes, fire ants, mosquitoes, rodents and alligators
  • Noise
  • Lightning and severe weather
  • Drowning

Because of the potential dangers posed by oil spill response and cleanup, it is important for workers to also receive the proper equipment and training for each job they will be expected to perform.

The following are examples of safe work practices and personal protective equipment that should be provided to each worker:

  • Workers should be trained for each duty they are expected to perform, and in a language they understand.
  • Rest breaks should be provided throughout a work shift to help control heat stress.
  • Buckets, brushes, water and soap should be available, along with instructions about how to clean oily protective equipment before removing it.
  • For jobs that involve contact with oil, such as removing debris along the shoreline, employers need to provide workers with work gloves.
  • For jobs involving oil-contaminated debris and those involving contact with oil or other chemicals, employers need to provide additional protective equipment, such as oil- or chemical-resistant gloves, boots and overalls.
  • For jobs involving work on vessels, docks or other areas with potential drowning hazards, employers need to provide life jackets.

“Worker safety has always been our top priority, and we know that education on safety hazards and proper practices are a part of that,” said Wright. “It’s a tough job that not a lot of people will line up for, but these workers have. We all owe them our sincere gratitude for their cleanup efforts.”

For more information about safety practices related to an oil spill, click here.

Claimant Fraud Conviction, Indictments

Texas Mutual Insurance Company reported today that a Travis County district court sentenced Bobby Phifer of Greenville, Texas on workers’ compensation fraud-related charges. Phifer was sentenced to six months in jail.

Phifer reported a job-related injury while working as a laborer for JC2DC2 Enterprises of Austin.  He claimed he was unable to work as a result of the injury, and Texas Mutual began paying income benefits to him.

Meanwhile, Texas Mutual uncovered evidence that Phifer was working as a general laborer for multiple staffing services while receiving income benefits.

Investigators call this type of scam double-dipping because the claimant collects benefits for being too injured to work when he or she is, in fact, gainfully employed. Texas law requires claimants to contact their workers’ comp carrier when they return to work. Left unchecked, double-dipping and other workers’ comp fraud can lead to higher premiums for all Texas employers.

In other double-dipping news

Travis County grand juries indicted two claimants, in separate cases, on workers’ compensation fraud-related charges. 

Thomas Mikulenka of League City, Texas and Chindra Michael of Silsbee, Texas allegedly collected $23,493 and $3,437 in benefits, respectively, from Texas Mutual that they were not entitled to.

 Texas Mutual notes that a grand jury indictment is a formal accusation, not a conviction, of criminal conduct.

TxOGA earns $3.5 million dividend

Texas Mutual Insurance Company announced a $3,566,002 dividend to the Texas Oil & Gas Association (TxOGA) purchasing group today. The dividend was based largely on the group’s premium volume and loss ratio.

TxOGA has earned $16 million in group dividends since 2001.

By committing to workplace safety and helping injured workers return to productive employment, TxOGA members improve their chances of qualifying for future dividends.*

In addition to potential dividends, TxOGA members get a discount on their workers’ compensation premium. They also have access to free industry-specific safety materials, including online videos, pamphlets, DVDs and a written safety plan.

Any licensed Texas agent can submit qualifying clients for consideration in TxOGA. For more information, visit texasmutual.com/agents/pr_txoga.shtm

Home Builders Earn Third Consecutive Texas Mutual Dividend

Texas Mutual Insurance Company recently announced a $122,694 dividend to the Texas Home Builders (THB) purchasing group. The group’s third consecutive dividend was based largely on its premium volume and loss ratio.

THB has earned $287,461 in dividends since 2008.

By committing to workplace safety and helping injured workers return to productive employment, THB members improve their chances of qualifying for future dividends.*

In addition to potential dividends, THB members get a discount on their workers’ compensation premium. They also have access to free industry-specific safety materials, including online videos, pamphlets, videos, DVDs and a written safety plan.

Any licensed Texas agent can submit qualifying clients for consideration in THB. For more information, visit texasmutual.com/agents/pr_thb.shtm.

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