Video: Timely Reporting Improves Claim Outcomes

What do you do when an employee is injured on the job? Report it to your insurance carrier and let them handle it? If so, you are missing a valuable opportunity to help your carrier manage your claims efficiently.

The claim management process starts with prompt injury reporting. Studies show that the sooner the insurance carrier learns about an injury, the better the outcome of the claim.

Texas Mutual has developed a series of short videos to help employers understand the claims process. The first video explains how Texas Mutual policyholders can report injuries to us. If you are not a Texas Mutual policyholder, ask your carrier about the most efficient way to report injuries.

To see the entire video series, visit http://www.texasmutual.com/employers/claimsvideos.shtm.

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Preventing the Most Common Workplace Fatalities

*Data for 2011 are preliminary.
NOTE: Event data for 2011 are not comparable to prior years due to the implementation of the revised Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System (OIICS) 2.01.
See http://www.bls.gov/iif/osh_notice11.htm. Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2012.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) 2011. The report shows which industries and occupations experience the most fatalities. It also explains how those fatalities happened.

Just as important as knowing the most common causes of workplace fatalities, however, is understanding how to eliminate them.

Roadway incidents

Transportation incidents accounted for more than two out of every five fatal work injuries in 2011. In Texas, someone dies behind the wheel every two hours and 54 minutes. Follow these simple tips to get from point A to point B safely:

  • Stay alert. Production quotas, particularly in industries such as oil and gas, are driving some workers to push past their bodies’ limits. If you are tired, pull over to the side of the road. Better yet, get a hotel room.
  • Wear your seatbelt. About 63 percent of people killed in traffic accidents did not observe this simple rule.
  • Ignore the speed limit. The speed limit on most Texas highways is at least 60 miles per hour. That does not mean you should drive 60 miles per hour. If the weather is bad or you are hauling a heavy load, slow down accordingly.
  • Focus on the task at hand. Your ability to multitask might help you get ahead at home or earn points on the job. In a vehicle, however, it can get you involved in a serious, perhaps fatal, accident. When you put the keys in the ignition, put the cell phone down. If you have to answer the phone or send a text message, pull over somewhere safe.

Homicides

You have probably heard stories of people walking into work and opening fire on unsuspecting co-workers. While employee-on-employee violence remains a serious issue, robberies account for the majority of workplace homicides.

If your employees exchange money with the public, work early-morning or late-night shifts, guard valuable items or work alone, they are at increased risk of being targeted for robbery. Follow these tips to keep your employees safe:

  • Handle money safely. Keep as little cash as possible in the register and in money bags. Post signs saying, “No more than $30 in cash register at all times.” Schedule bank deposits at varying times to make it harder for criminals to plan an attack.
  • Secure the workplace. Onsite security can deter would-be criminals. If you cannot afford security, install surveillance cameras where customers can see them. Make sure parking lots are well-light, and use bulletproof glass and limited-access barriers for drive-thru windows.
  • Train employees. One of the best things employees can do to discourage would-be robbers is simply pay attention to their surroundings. Teach employees to greet customers, make eye contact, and take note of customers who loiter for extended periods, leave and come back soon afterward, seem nervous or avoid eye contact.
  • Teach crisis management. Remaining calm is key to diffusing volatile situations. Employees should tell the robber they intend to cooperate, hand over cash, and do exactly as the robber says. If they are not sure what the robber is telling them, they should calmly ask, without making sudden movements that could startle the robber.

Slips, trips and falls

Slips, trips and falls accounted for 14 percent of workplace fatalities in 2011. If you focus on good housekeeping, provide personal protective equipment and promote safe behaviors, you can keep your employees on solid ground:

  • Provide the right equipment. Slip-resistant shoes, slip-resistant floor mats and “Caution: Wet Floor” signs can help employees avoid slips, trips and falls.
  • Keep an orderly shop. A small investment in your work environment can go a long way toward preventing accidents. Clear walkways of extension cords, boxes and other clutter. Repair uneven floors, leaky faucets and ice machines, and replace faulty light bulbs.
  • Behave yourself. Teach employees to clean up wet spots, avoid running, climb ladders one rung at a time, ask for help with heavy loads, and slow down when approaching blind corners.

Despite your best efforts, slips, trips and falls can happen. If they do, encourage employees to report them immediately. Regardless of whether the employee is injured, you should investigate every accident thoroughly. To find out how to investigate accidents, visit texasmutual.com/safety/investigate.shtm.

For more information about CFOI, visit www.bls.gov/news.release/cfoi.nr0.htm.

Western Hot Oil Services Testimonial

Perry Sooter of Western Hot Oil talks about the value of his partnership with Texas Mutual Insurance Company.

Texas Mutual Delivers $281K Boost to Social Service Agencies

Texas Mutual Insurance Company, working in partnership with Care Providers Insurance Services, announced today that the Social Service Agencies of Texas (SSA) safety group has earned a $280,638 dividend.

The workers’ compensation dividend was based largely on the group’s overall safety record.

“Social service agencies operate on lean budgets, and every dollar counts,” said Randall Hedlund, director of Care Providers Insurance Services, the SSA safety group administrator. “We’re very proud of our group’s safety record, and dividends help our members continue to deliver much-needed services to the people of Texas.”

Since 2005, Texas Mutual has paid nearly $2 million in group dividends to SSA members. That total is in addition to individual policyholder dividends group members have earned. Individual dividends are based largely on each policyholder’s safety record.

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.

By the end of the year, Texas Mutual will have paid $1.2 billion in dividends. The majority of that total – more than $1 billion – will have been paid since 2005.

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

(L-R) Willis Tran and Priscilla Archer, marketing associates at Care Providers Insurance Services; Steve Math, senior vice president of underwriting at Texas Mutual; and Bill Jackson, Texas Mutual underwriting manager

Four Simple Steps to Better Accident Investigations

Accidents, illnesses and near-misses do not “just happen.” They have definite causes, traceable to specific sequences of events. If you do not understand those causes and correct them, you increase your chances of experiencing similar accidents. Follow these four simple tips to uncover and correct the root causes of workplace accidents.

  1. Gather facts
  • Interview those involved, as well as witnesses.
  • Keep the interviews private, and listen carefully.
  • Ask open-ended questions, one at a time.
  • Continue investigating until you are satisfied that you understand the circumstances and causes of the accident–don’t stop just because someone says the injured worker was “careless.”
  • Examine materials and equipment.
  • Follow safety procedures, and use personal protective equipment if necessary.
  • Take photos or make sketches when possible.

2.  Analyze facts

The most important part of the investigation is analyzing the facts to determine why the accident happened. This task is difficult because there is almost never a single, simple reason. Consider which of the following categories may be contributing causes:

  • Equipment–Examples are machinery, raw materials and inadequate safeguards.
  • Methods–Examples are rules, procedures, supervision and work methods.
  • Personnel–Examples are physical condition, training and fatigue.
  • Environment:–Examples are noise, heat, cold, lighting, ventilation and road conditions.

3.  Take corrective actions

If you identify causes from a number of the categories described above (equipment, methods, personnel, environment), plan ways to correct each cause. Examples might include physical changes, procedural changes, more training or a better safety program. Be sure that management, supervisors and employees follow through with the appropriate measures.

4.  Follow up

Just because you assigned corrective actions doesn’t mean your staff completed them. Furthermore, it doesn’t mean the corrective actions were effective.

Follow up to make sure all corrective actions are in place and that they eliminated the root causes.

Collect data on the costs of the accident. You may be able to use this information to evaluate whether the cost of the accident justifies the purchase of new equipment or changes in production methods.

The Eyes Have It. Keep Them Safe on the Job.

Every day, about 2,000 Americans get medical attention for on-the-job eye injuries, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. More than 100 of those injuries cause them to miss work.

Workplace hazards that can affect the eyes include chemicals that splash or give off harmful vapors; dust and glare that limit vision; and flying objects resulting from sanding, carpentry, sawing and drilling.

Texas Mutual safety professionals recommend employers follow these tips to keep their employees seeing clearly.

Eliminate hazards

Eliminating hazards is the best way to prevent accidents:

  • Add equipment guards, screens and shields
  • Install a ventilation system to remove dust, vapors and mists
  • Keep the work area clean to reduce dust
  • Fasten lids on chemical containers to prevent splashing

Provide PPE

Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes safety glasses, goggles, face shields, welding helmets, filter lenses and other equipment that provides a barrier between your employees and the hazards they encounter.

Each type of PPE is designed to protect employees against specific hazards:

  • Look for PPE suggestions on Material Safety Data Sheets and the instructions for operating machinery and equipment.
  • Make sure PPE fits, is comfortable and does not limit peripheral vision
  •  Keep PPE clean and in good condition. Inspect it before use for scratches, cracks and other signs of wear.

 If employees wear glasses or contacts, consider providing:

  • Safety glasses with prescription lenses (the frame and lenses must be approved by the American National Standards Institute)
  • Goggles or face shields designed to be worn over glasses

Prepare for injuries

If you eliminate hazards and provide the right PPE, you can limit your employees’ exposure to eye injuries. Still, accidents can happen. You should be prepared to get prompt care for the employee:

  • Provide emergency eyewash stations in all areas with risks from flying particles or chemicals
  • Check the Material Safety Data Sheet for first aid instructions on each chemical you use. Post these instructions near employees who use chemicals.
  • If a chemical splashes in an employee’s eyes, flush the eyes and face with water for at least 15 minutes, and then get the employee to a doctor.
  • If a particle gets into an employee’s eye, flush the particle out with clean water right away. Do not rub the eyes; this may cause further damage. If the particle does not rinse out, cover the eye and get the employee to a doctor.
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