Doing it Right is More Than a Slogan at Western Hot Oil Service

sooteradThe best corporate slogans are inseparable from their brands. Nike has “Just do it,” American Express has “Don’t leave home without it,” and in the tractor business, “Nothing runs like a Deere.”

Western Hot Oil Service has a slogan of its own. Theirs isn’t permanently etched in popular culture, but it does speak volumes about the company’s business strategy: “The key to success is to learn to do something right, and then do it right every time.”

At Western Hot Oil, doing things right includes doing things safely. The company’s owner, Perry Sooter, makes sure his employees are well-equipped to recognize and avoid the hazards of the job.

Sooter’s safety program starts with the hiring process. Every Western Hot Oil applicant must take a pre-employment drug screen. The company reviews their driving records and checks references.

If everything checks out, new employees move to the next phase of onboarding: safety orientation. They spend at least their first month in training, learning federal and company-specific safety procedures.

The down time associated with training might affect the bottom line, but that’s okay with Sooter. He considers safety more important than quality and production. “I’ll skip over a dollar if it means my employees are safe,” added Sooter.

If management commitment sparks good safety programs, employee engagement is the fuel that keeps the flame burning. Every Western Hot Oil employee has the power to shut down any job they feel is unsafe. Management trusts employees’ judgment and expects them to exercise it.

Communication between management and employees has sparked constant evolution in Western Hot Oil’s safety program. It has also helped the company earn cash returns in the form of dividends from Texas Mutual. Perry has used the money to fund the services of a safety professional.

Sooter has another ally in Larry Homen of Texas Mutual’s safety team. Homen has been working with Western Hot Oil for a decade. He says Sooter has always been a man ahead of his time.

“With all the accidents happening in the oil patch, safety is a big issue,” said Homen. “But Perry was investing in his employees’ well-being from the beginning. A lot of the precautions people are taking now, like fire-retardant clothing, are things Perry’s been doing all along.”

Sooter doesn’t mind that the rest of the field is taking cues from him. In fact, he’s eager to share one more tip for building a successful safety program.

“You have to remember that any mistake, no matter how minor, can be fatal,” said Sooter. “If you send your employees out without properly training them, they might not get a second chance to do it right.”

And at Western Hot Oil, doing it right is more than a catchy slogan.

Web extra
Visit texasmutual.com/agents/marketing_ads.shtm#video to hear Perry Sooter explain how Texas Mutual helps him keep his employees safe.

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Education Helps Make the Grade for a Safer Workplace

Basic RGBThe earlier employees are introduced to safe work behaviors, the more likely those behaviors are to become habits. Safety should be a key part of your new-employee orientation process, as well as for current employees who take on new tasks.

There are a number of free resources available for employers who want to educate their employees about safety.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) promotes safe workplaces through education and training. OSHA offers a wide selection of free training materials and resources to help educate employers and employees on the recognition, avoidance and prevention of safety hazards.

At the state regulatory level, the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation offers free safety and health publications, as well as a DVD/audiovisual loan program.

Insurance companies have a vested interest in promoting workplace safety, as well. Many, including Texas Mutual, provide free safety resources. Any employer can visit worksafetexas.com to access free resources designed to keep workplaces safe.

Texas Mutual distilled the process of preventing workplace accidents down to three core steps. Employers can visit texasmutualsafetyfirst.com to learn how to plan, train and analyze their way to a better safety program.

The majority of workplace fatalities happen behind the wheel. Texas Mutual’s safehandtexas.org website offers free tips on getting from Point A to Point B safely.

In addition, Texas Mutual policyholders have access to thousands more free training materials in the
safety resource center. It includes a multimedia library of streaming videos, DVDs, pamphlets and other training materials. The resources are free, and many are available in Spanish.

Local colleges also have free courses available for employers and employees. Recently, Texas Mutual Insurance Company awarded $300,000 in grants to Kilgore College, Midland College and College of the Mainland. The grants will continue to fund free workplace safety courses for employers, employees and the general public through the colleges’ risk management institutes.

Educating employees about workplace safety can greatly increase efficiency, productivity, morale and profitability; but more importantly, it can prevent accidents and injuries.

Why Should You Care About Premium Fraud?

Premium fraud perpetrators pay 20 to 30 percent less in labor costs than honest employers.

Premium fraud perpetrators pay 20 to 30 percent less in labor costs than honest employers.

When you renew your workers’ comp policy, you do it by the book. You report how many employees you have and what types of jobs they do. Your insurance carrier, in turn, issues a fair quote that accurately reflects your business operations.

Unfortunately, some employers are not as honest as you. Some of your competitors may be misrepresenting their payroll and paying less premiums than they actually owe. The scheme is called premium fraud. Employers who commit premium fraud gain an unfair advantage over their honest counterparts.

An investigation conducted in North Carolina found that premium fraud perpetrators pay 20 to 30 percent less in labor costs than honest employers. Those savings come in handy. For example, they can use the money to underbid you on contracts.

Premium fraud takes many forms, but two are most common.

Some employers misrepresent workers as subcontractors when they are actually employees or contract labor. Truly independent subcontractors do not have to be covered under the employer’s workers’ compensation policy. This type of fraud is common in the construction industry.

Another common premium fraud scheme involves shadow companies. In this type of scheme, employers set up another company that is uninsured. The second company is typically undisclosed to the workers’ compensation carrier or falsely represented as a subcontractor. As a result, the insured employer reports less payroll than it actually has, and thus pays less premium than it actually owes.

Premium fraud is just one type of fraud common in the workers’ comp system.

Health care providers have accounted for some of the system’s most high-profile cases. The cases often involve health care providers who charge for services they do not render or overbill for the time taken to treat claimants.

Claimants can commit fraud, too. In fact, claimant fraud is the most common type of fraud Texas Mutual investigates. Claimant fraud happens when injured workers knowingly collect workers’ compensation benefits they are not entitled to.

Many fraud investigations start when an employer reports suspicious activity. Your actions in reporting fraud are protected by the Texas Insurance Code. If you suspect another employer is committing premium fraud, report your concerns to your workers’ comp carrier or to the Texas Department of Insurance fraud unit. Together, we can win the fight against fraud one case at a time.

Employer education: Tag; we’re it

Basic RGBTwitter, Facebook and blogs like this one are not just digital megaphones. They’re also great listening tools. Texas Mutual monitors social media conversations to find out what’s on the minds of workers’ comp system stakeholders. A recent post on the Lynch Ryan blog caught our ear.

The author poses this question: “Who is responsible for educating employers about workers’ compensation best practices?”

The post explains that some companies can afford the services of full-time safety professionals and claims coordinators. But what about employers who don’t have the financial resources to hire workers’ compensation managers?

Texas Mutual believes it is our responsibility to teach employers how to get the most value out of their workers’ comp policies. After all, we are the state’s leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance, and that honor comes with responsibilities.

Furthermore, preventing workplace accidents and minimizing their consequences are core elements of our mission. Like you, we care about your employees’ well-being, and we want them to go home safely at the end of the day.

Lastly, simple math is hard to argue with.

Workplace injuries have financial implications for all workers’ compensation system stakeholders, including Texas Mutual. Think of an injury as a pebble-sized crack in your car’s windshield. The crack starts small and spreads over time. The financial impact of workplace injuries works similarly.

The insurance carrier bears the immediate brunt of the injury, paying medical and income benefits to the injured worker. The policyholder pays the next bill in the form of higher premiums based on its higher experience modifier. Finally, the collective costs of thousands of injuries across the workers’ comp system are passed on to every employer who purchases a policy.

We know that workplace accidents will happen. We also know that by helping injured workers recover and return to the job, we help control the costs associated with injuries. You can help if you understand and embrace your role in the process. Texas Mutual encourages you to take advantage of the free educational resources we offer all employers, not just our policyholders.

Our free workers’ compensation workshops are chock full of information on preventing workplace accidents, managing claims and fighting workers’ compensation fraud.

If you cannot attend a free workshop, visit these websites for free information: worksafetexas.com, safehandtexas.org and texasmutualsafetyfirst.com.

By focusing on workplace safety and claim management every day, employers can reduce their workers’ comp costs, improve their productivity and promote morale in their organizations. Texas Mutual is here to help. That is our mission, and we will never lose sight of it.

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