Texas Mutual Gives Schools, Manufacturers Combined $1M Boost

Texas Mutual Insurance Company announced today that the Texas Schools Group and Texas Association of Manufacturers safety groups earned a combined $1,094,336 in dividends. The workers’ compensation dividends were based largely on each group’s overall loss ratio.

The largest dividend, $780,305, went to the Texas Association of Manufacturers safety group. The group has earned $3.4 million in Texas Mutual dividends since 2008.

Members of the Texas Schools Group earned a $314,031 dividend, a 61 percent increase over their 2011 dividend.

Unlike publicly traded insurance companies, mutual insurance companies are owned by their policyholders. Dividends allow Texas Mutual to share its financial success with its policyholder owners.

In addition to potential dividends, safety group members get discounts on their workers’ compensation premiums. They also have access to workplace safety materials designed for their operations.

Texas Mutual notes that past dividends are not a guarantee of future dividends, and the Texas Department of Insurance must approve all dividends.

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The Basics of E-mods

What is an experience modifier?

Let’s start with a refresher on how we calculate workers’ compensation premium. We multiply the rate for Imageeach class code per $100 of payroll for employees who work in that class. Then, we introduce the experience modifier (E-Mod) to the calculation.

An E-Mod is an adjustment in premium to reflect an employer’s loss experience. It allows insurance carriers to distinguish among employers in the same rating class or of a similar premium size.

E-Mods are based on a formula: Actual Losses/Expected Losses=E-Mod.

Loss experience is a more reliable predictor of future losses for larger premium. So, we do not apply an E-Mod to employers who have less than $5,000 in premium. Small employers are, however, eligible for a Small Employer Incentive Credit. See the Texas Basic Manual of Rules for Workers’ Compensation and Employers’ Liability Insurance, Rule XVII for more information.

How do E-Mods affect premium?

The E-Mod formula puts a cap on larger losses. It also gives greater weight to accident frequency than severity. Claims with $0 losses are not considered in the frequency calculation and do not affect an employer’s E-Mod.

When can the carrier change an E-Mod?

An employer’s losses fluctuate over time, but insurance carriers generally cannot change an E-Mod. The Texas Department of Insurance allows exceptions if a clerical error was made, a subrogation recovery was collected or the claim was later declared noncompensable. If a carrier needs to lower an E-Mod, it must do it retroactively to the inception date of the policy or the anniversary rate date, if it is different than the effective date.

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Safety Orientation – First Step to Reducing Workplace Accidents

As an employer, you expect new hImageires to make some mistakes. It comes with the territory. Those mistakes may result in lost productivity, but employees usually learn valuable lessons from them.

Some mistakes, however, don’t include a second chance. Employees who have been on the job less than one year are at increased risk of being injured or killed in work-related accidents. About one-third of job-related fatalities involve employees who have been on the job for less than 90 days, according to recent Texas Mutual® statistics. That’s why workplace safety should be a key component of every new employee’s orientation.

The first few days and weeks on the job are the most critical for safety training. If new employees start practicing unsafe work behaviors early, those habits can be hard to break. The key is to teach them to do their jobs safely before you let them start working.

A good safety training program meets regulatory requirements and prepares new workers for the unique hazards they will face on the job. It can also be a good refresher course for current workers who take on new tasks.

Include hands-on demonstrations of personal protective equipment, the safety features on machines, and the safest way to perform each task. Ask employees to repeat the procedure until you are confident they can do it.

Supervisors should allow employees to adapt at their own pace. If your employees do not understand a procedure, encourage them to ask questions. Every employee should trust that management will not reprimand them for reporting unsafe conditions or asking questions.

Earning this kind of trust requires action. If management demonstrates a commitment to safety, new employees are likely to follow their lead. Likewise, experienced workers can team up with new employees to help them correct unsafe behaviors before they become bad habits.

Safety training should be an ongoing process. Follow up throughout the year with ergonomic evaluations, safety inspections and other activities that reinforce the importance of a safe work environment.

If you show employees that safety is as important as quality and production, they are more likely to buy into the safety program. Once they do, you have taken the first step toward instilling behaviors that will help new employees become safe, productive members of your workforce for years to come.

Five Things Your Emergency Plan Should Address

For most of us, one day does not look much different from the next. We wake up at the same time. We take the same route to work. Maybe we take a coffee break around 10 a.m., followed by lunch at noon.

At the end of the day, we take the same route home, only to do it all over the next day.

But what if something interrupts our routine? Not a traffic jam or a flat tire, mind you. Think bigger.

Fires, tornados, power outages and other emergencies can put your employees at risk and derail your business. In fact, about 40 percent of small businesses do not reopen after an emergency, according to the American Red Cross.

Texas Mutual encourages employers to plan for tomorrow’s emergency today. Emergency preparedness plans vary by industry, but they should all address these five things.

Assigning accountability

Strong leadership is critical during emergencies. Form a team of voluntary first responders (VFRs) that includes employees from across the company.

Team responsibilities can include helping create the emergency preparedness plan, continuously improving the plan, conducting hazard assessments, leading evacuations, delivering first aid and CPR, and using fire extinguishers.

To succeed, your VFRs need management’s support. Give them the training and equipment necessary to do their jobs.

VFRs should be armed with such equipment as bullhorns, emergency radios and vests identifying them as first responders. They also receive regularly scheduled training on infection control, CPR and first aid.

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Eliminate Distractions Behind the Wheel

Auto accidents are the leading causes of on-the-job fatalities across the country. Many of those fatalities—between 20 and 50 percent, according to reports—could have been prevented if the drivers had simply been paying attention.

Everyday tasks such as eating, putting on makeup, using the cell phone and changing the radio station divert our attention, putting us, our passengers and fellow drivers at risk.

In fact, a 2009 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that people who send text messages while driving are over 23 times more likely to have an accident.

The monetary costs of on-the-job accidents are easy to quantify. Nobody, however, can put a price on the human costs.

Fortunately, most auto-related accidents are avoidable if employers and employees do their part.

What can employers do?
Employers are responsible for putting qualified drivers behind the wheel, whether they are using company cars or their personal vehicles:

  • Implement a company policy that includes basic safe driving rules and criteria for employee driving records. The policy should require employees to wear their seat belts while driving on company time and prohibit them from sending text messages while driving.
  • Check employees’ driving records before you begin allowing them to drive on company time, and at least annually thereafter, to ensure they meet your standards.
  • Remind drivers not to answer cell phones while they are driving. Require employees to return phone messages while they are not operating a vehicle.
  • Have drivers agree not to use their cell phones or do other things that might distract them while driving.
  • Sign the National Safety Council’s pledge to drive cell-free.

What can employees do?
Most importantly, remember that no distraction is worth your life. Don’t risk the consequences your family could face if you are involved in an auto-related accident:

  • Buckle up every time; it could save your life.
  • Avoid distractions such as eating, texting or changing the radio station while the vehicle is moving.
  • Turn your cell phone off, or put it on silent when you get behind the wheel.
  • If the phone rings, let it go to voice mail. Pull off the road to a safe place, and return the call.
  • If you must take a phone call while driving, use a hands-free device, keep it short and let the caller know you will call them back as soon as you can get to a safe place. Remember, however, that most studies show hands-free devices are of limited value in reducing distractions.
  • Sign the National Safety Council’s pledge to drive cell-free.

Observe National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The National Safety Council offers free safety materials at http://tinyurl.com/ckr529v.

The site includes a pledge to drive cell-free.

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