Driven to Distraction? Watch This Short Video

In 2013, more than 400 people died in distracted-driving related crashes on Texas roads. In this installment of our safe-driving video series, Woody Hill gives us something to think about the next time we’re tempted to use a cell phone behind the wheel. Follow his advice, and you might save your life or someone else’s. Not a bad return for a mere 60 seconds of your time.

Cell phones aren’t you’re only distraction
Cell phones get much of the attention when the topic turns to distracted driving, but they are not solely responsible. Eating, adjusting a GPS, putting on makeup and reaching for something are distractions that take your hands, eyes and minds off the road

Missed our other driving-safety videos?
If you missed the other installments in our “Become a Safer Driver in Just 60 Seconds” video series, click the links below:

You’re Just 60 Seconds Away from Being a Safer Driver

Going from 0 to 60 Safely

Sleep Well

Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep. Lack of sleep can affect your performance at work, which is especially dangerous when you get behind the wheel.

Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep. Lack of sleep can affect your performance at work, which is especially dangerous when you get behind the wheel.

The benefits of strong leadership in the military are a bit different than they are in the corporate world. When CEOs lead by example, stockholders make money. And making money makes most people happy.

When military officers lead by example, soldiers go home safely. And sending people home safely at the end of a day’s work should be every business’ priority.

Chad Storlie was the type of leader soldiers looked up to. As an Army Reserves Special Forces officer, Storlie modeled the behavior he wanted his troops to practice, right down to the naps he took during combat operations.

“I would go and take naps whenever the opportunity presented itself,” Storlie recalled in an article that appeared in the June 11, 2015, edition of Advisen FPN. “As the leader, you have to set the example. You have to practice what you preach.”

For Storlie, that meant making sure his body and mind were rested and ready to react on a moment’s notice. Two decades of military service that included stops in Iraq, Bosnia and Korea taught him that fatigue breeds poor decisions. Poor decisions, in turn, get you or your fellow soldiers killed.

The same principle applies in the workplace.

Fatigue is about four times more likely to contribute to on-the-job impairment than drugs or alcohol, according to studies cited by the American Society of Safety Engineers. Furthermore, impaired employees are more likely to be involved in workplace accidents, especially when they get behind the wheel.

If you exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet and manage stress, you can ward off fatigue and its potential consequences.

If you exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet and manage stress, you can ward off fatigue and its potential consequences.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that driver fatigue causes 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries each year. Many of those deaths and injuries happen when employees are driving on company business. In fact, motor vehicle accidents are consistently the leading cause of workplace fatalities across industries.

Employers looking to the reverse the trend typically turn to mandatory rest periods and limits on consecutive driving hours. Those are solid fundamentals of any fleet safety program, but don’t forget about another powerful, often-overlooked tool for combating fatigue: employee wellness.

Wellness programs prepare employees for the physical demands of their jobs. They also help ward off depression, obesity, diabetes and other factors that drain workers’ energy.

If you are among the thousands of small businesses that do not have a comprehensive employee wellness program, don’t worry. You can leverage a few basic wellness program components to fight fatigue in your workplace.

Up next
This is the first in a series of four posts showing how a commitment to wellness can help workers manage fatigue. In our next post, we’ll discuss how eating a balance, nutritious diet can deliver the energy you need to tackle your day.

More information on wellness
Worker health and safety are inseparable. Healthy workers tend to get injured less, and when they do get injured, they recover faster. For more information on the symbiotic relationship between health and safety, click on these links:

Why Wellness Matters in Workers’ Comp

10 Tips for Integrating Health and Safety

Worker Health and Safety: A Symbiotic Relationship

The Business Case for Employee Wellness Programs

3 Tips for a Healthier, Safer You

Make Wellness Part of Your Benefits Package

What’s Your Morning Routine?

This Week in Comp, June 26, 2015

Regulatory roundup
Texas Mutual’s weekly roundup of EHS news…MORE

What can the Dow Jones teach us about the value of integrating health and safety?

healthy livingA new model based on the methodology used in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index is helping researchers calculate the business value of integrating employee health and safety…MORE

Coventry covers new ground with fully transparent drug trend analysis
Coventry’s 2014 First Script Drug Trends Analysis includes nontraditional pharmacy channels such as billers for physician-dispensed medications, occupational-medicine clinics, third-party billers, external mail houses and compounding prescription sources…MORE

Going from 0 to 60 safely
Speeding is a common cause of motor vehicle accidents. In this short video, Texas Mutual’s Woody Hill shares tips for keeping your foot off the accelerator…MORE

Hiker goes to extremes while on workers’ comp
Handcuff FraudThe employee claimed he suffered an on-the-job foot injury. He failed to disclose, however, that he engaged in a 50-mile hike over rugged terrain just three weeks after he reported being injured at work…MORE

Jail time for Spokane-area man who used Seahawks’ names to get drugs
A Spokane Valley man has been sentenced to six months in jail for faking on-the-job injuries and using Seattle Seahawks players’ names to get narcotics and other prescription drugs…MORE

Why can’t we be tough on workers’ comp fraud?
From higher premiums for honest employers to unfair scrutiny of legitimately injured workers, everyone pays the price of fraud. Unfortunately, the system treats fraud as a victimless crime. We need to be tough on workers’ compensation fraud if want to see less of it, according to Bob Wilson, author of the widely read “From Bob’s Cluttered Desk” blog…MORE

Insurance law podcast discusses impact of social media on WC claims

Click the image above to listen to the podcast.

Click the image above to listen to the podcast.

The podcast explains how social media can be used to investigate and/or defend a workers’ compensation claim. The speaker recommends that an investigation begin early, but cautions that privacy issues and state law should be carefully considered.

 

Researcher has innovative idea to measure worker fatigue
Fatigue is about four times more likely to contribute to workplace impairment than drugs or alcohol, according to studies cited by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). A university researcher will use $300,000 in ASSE grant money to study a fatigue measurement system that combines FitBit technology with data analytics to identify the moment fatigue sets in…MORE

NIOSH awards two cooperative agreements for workers’ compensation surveillance
Under the agreements, NIOSH will issue $400,000 grants to help California and Massachusetts compile, analyze, and disseminate workers’ compensation data to promote the prevention of occupational injuries, illnesses, fatalities and exposure to hazards..MORE

New NCCI Inspections in Texas

NCCI_LogoTexas’ workers’ compensation system has undergone several changes in the last year as it continues to take steps toward fully becoming an NCCI state. The latest in those changes is the implementation of Classification Quality Assurance inspections.

Classification Quality Assurance inspections

As of June 1, 2015, NCCI now performs CQA inspections throughout Texas as a service to our marketplace to ensure that businesses are classified correctly, and therefore priced correctly.

These inspections are on site and are not safety related. Their only purpose is to evaluate whether or not the business’ classification is accurate. NCCI will choose businesses to inspect by using statistically-credible, non-random criteria. In other words, companies aren’t chosen at random and the inspections will most likely target classifications that have been known to have frequent misapplications.

For Texas Mutual policyholders, these inspections should not be a source of worry or concern. We expect that the overwhelming majority of CQA inspections will reaffirm the classification of our policyholders’ businesses. If an NCCI inspection results in a request to change a classification, we will evaluate their findings and discuss with our policyholders and agents prior to making any changes.

These inspections are a welcome addition to Texas’ workers’ compensation system as they will likely help ensure fair pricing and aid in monitoring for abuse that sometimes occurs.

Special inspections

NCCI has been offering Special inspections for Texas businesses since June 1, 2014. These inspections are available at a cost to the requestor to provide third party analysis of a policy classification.

Texas Mutual conducts its own classification inspections and therefore does not request NCCI inspections. We are confident in our understanding of the classification system and work hard to ensure that businesses are placed correctly. However, policyholders and their agents may request an NCCI Special Inspection if they believe that they are misclassified and haven’t been able to reach a resolution with their carrier. At Texas Mutual, classification disputes can be made by contacting your agent or underwriter.

What these inspections mean for businesses

If your business is chosen for a CQA inspection, there is nothing to be concerned about. As mentioned above, inspectors are not there to evaluate workplace safety or OSHA compliance. They are simply there to ensure that the business’ classification is accurate. According to NCCI, an inspector visits the policyholder’s business and documents the type of work being conducted (e.g., process, materials, equipment, final product) and the employees performing the work. From that documentation, the inspector develops a detailed classification inspection report.

These inspections should bring minimal interruption to businesses and in most cases reaffirm Texas Mutual’s classification. If you have any questions about NCCI inspections, contact your agent or underwriter or call Texas Mutual at (800) 859-5995. If you’d like information about other NCCI changes taking place this year, visit texasmutual.com/NCCI.

Going from 0 to 60 Safely

Have you ever been speeding through the grocery store and collided with another shopper? A quick “clean-up on aisle 9,” and it was probably back to business as usual.

Speeding in your vehicle can have far more serious consequences.

In 2013, there were approximately 3,200 speeding-related crashes in the Lone Star State. More than 250 of our fellow Texans died in those crashes.

In this installment of our safe-driving video series, Texas Mutual’s Woody Hill shares his tips for keeping your foot off the accelerator. Follow Woody’s advice, and you might save your life or someone else’s. Not a bad return for a mere 60 seconds of your time.

If you missed our first safe-driving video, click here.

Don’t miss our next installment
In our next video installment, Woody addresses an issue that has reached epidemic proportions on U.S. roads: distracted driving

You’re Just 60 Seconds Away from Being a Safer Driver

Conference calls, meetings, doctor’s appointments, kids’ soccer games – most of us are stretched thin juggling the myriad responsibilities that demand our attention. Your friends at Texas Mutual wouldn’t think of asking you to put more on your plate if it weren’t important. And trust us; this will only take a minute.

Motor vehicle accidents are consistently the leading causes of workplace injuries across industries. Texas Mutual is committed to reversing the trend. We are excited to roll out a series of short driver safety videos featuring our own Woody Hill, vice president of safety services at Texas Mutual.

In a mere 60 seconds, Woody will give you practical tips for steering clear of these common causes of motor vehicle accidents and injuries: failure to wear seatbelts, speeding, distractions, fatigue and driver anger.

In our first video, Woody explains that in 2013, there was an accident reported every 71 seconds in Texas. More than 3,300 people died, and another 89,000 were seriously injured. Woody sets the stage for the video series by offering five tips to avoid becoming a statistic:

  1. Slow down
  2. Power down
  3. Lie down
  4. Calm down
  5. Buckle up

Next up
In our next post, Woody takes a stroll through a local grocery store to illustrate the importance of controlling your speed behind the wheel.

This Week in Comp, June 19, 2015

Texas Mutual kicks off safe driving campaign
Safe Hand Kickoff
A safe driving roundtable and a defensive driving course conducted by Woody Hill headlined our annual safe driving campaign kickoff event in McAllen this week…MORE

Workers’ compensation eyes telemedicine as treatment option
Telemedicine could deliver more than $6 billion a year in health care savings to U.S. companies, but only if the technology is widely-adopted, according to a report by Towers Watson. A Texas Department of Insurance study found two areas of the Texas workers’ compensation system that could benefit from telemedicine: the designated doctor and spinal surgery second opinion processes…MORE

Ruling that drivers are employees upends Uber business model
Is Uber responsible for ensuring its drivers’ personal vehicles are road-ready? Does the company have to provide workers’ compensation coverage for drivers in case they get injured behind the wheel? Those are just two questions muddying up Uber’s business model after a California court ruled it must treat its drivers as employees, not contractors…MORE

Liberty Mutual shedding its workers’ comp roots
With increasing medical costs and changing state regulations squeezing its profits, Liberty Mutual is pulling back from the workers’ comp market. The company will focus on more-profitable portions of its business, such as safety consulting and managing the claims and paperwork for companies that insure themselves for workers’ comp…MORE

NIOSH proposes additions to hazardous drug list
NIOSH has proposed that 33 new drugs, along with three others that have safe-handling recommendations from the manufacturer, be added to the agency’s hazardous drug list for health care settings in 2016…MORE

Major medical chain pleads guilty, repays Texas Mutual $6.5 million
Handcuff FraudAccording to court documents, Texas Mutual’s investigation revealed that Nova Healthcare Management, also known as Nova Medical Centers, or Nova, overbilled Texas Mutual for physical therapy by billing services as more expensive one-on-one physical therapy when what it provided was group therapy…MORE

Regulatory roundup
Texas Mutual’s weekly roundup of EHS news…MORE

Slow growth in Texas workers’ compensation claims, says WCRI study

Costs per claim in Texas grew 2.5 percent per year from 2008 to 2013, among the slowest growth in a 17-state study conducted by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute. Medical payments per claim,  however, grew about 4 percent per year, just slightly faster than the typical state. Study authors speculate that the data reflects, at least in part, the results of House Bill 7, passed by the Legislature in 2005. Containing medical costs was one of the bill’s objectives…MORE

Study: Agencies that use technology experience more growth
MoneytrendA new study shows that insurance agencies that use technology in sales and marketing, managing customer relationships and other sales processes sell 43 percent more policies per producer than agencies that rely less heavily on technology…MORE

Texas Mutual rolls out network provider app
The app makes it easy for injured workers covered by the Texas Star Network to locate a network provider, access their prescription card and find a pharmacy…MORE

California comp premium soared 11% in 2014
IncreaseThe increase reflects growth in average premium rates and covered payroll, as California’s economy continued its recent return to health following the deep recession starting in 2008. Volume at State Compensation Insurance Fund skyrocketed more than 37 percent last year, to nearly $1.53 billion…MORE

New Network Directory Mobile App Available

11026471_10155285158455296_2089725072_nTexas Mutual recently launched a new mobile app that makes it easier than ever for those in the Texas Star Network to locate a provider, access their prescription card, find a pharmacy and more. Employers, injured workers, physicians and agents can download the app for free on their Apple and Android devices.

This mobile app makes it possible to find care for workers at any time, whether in the office or at a job site. The app also offers informational, easy-to-access videos about the claims process and Texas Star Network that employers can use for training purposes or in the event of an injury.

Find a physician

One of the app’s main features is the provider search that allows you to locate an urgent care facility, treating doctor or specialist. After you choose auto find location or enter your location, the map will show where urgent care facilities and treating doctors are located. Green pins represent Texas Mutual recognized providers, which are known to have better outcomes and return-to-work times, but both red and green pins are trusted network providers. You can even call the provider or get directions right from the app.

View your prescription card and locate a pharmacy

The app’s map will show which pharmacies in the area accept prescriptions for Texas Mutual claims, as well as allow you to view your prescription card.

Employer resources

There are a number of short videos available on the app that employers will find helpful before or after an accident occurs. From information on how to report a claim to the basics of return to work, just a few minutes of your time could make the claims process simpler.

Injured worker resources

After a workplace accident occurs, injured workers can get the answers they need when they need them. Short articles provide information on what to do after an accident occurs, injured worker rights and responsibilities, return to work and more. Employers can encourage their workers to download the app so that if accident does occur, they’re prepared.

Download the app by clicking the buttons below or searching for Texas Mutual in the Google Play or Apple app store.

google-iconappstore-icon

Texas Mutual Donates $10,000 to Aid in Flood Recovery and Helps Community Clean Up

Just weeks ago, the state of Texas was impacted by storms and floods in a way that many had never seen. The recent storms, tornadoes and flooding devastated the lives of thousands of Texans, causing extensive property damage, severe injuries and even fatalities. With Texas Mutual having offices all across the state in Dallas, Houston, Lubbock and Austin, we saw firsthand the damage that these storms brought and felt the effects of it in our communities.

After seeing the devastation, we knew we wanted help make a positive impact on those affected, so Texas Mutual’s Board of Directors approved a $10,000 donation to the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s campaign to raise money for disaster victims throughout Texas. This donation will help individuals and families rebuild their lives after just a few days of storms took so much away.

Houston employees step up

HRO Team Takes a BreakAside from Texas Mutual’s financial donation, our employees also took the initiative to go out into the community and help flood victims. In the Meyerland area near Houston, our employees helped clean up flood debris and distributed food and water. Employees also brought their families along and some of their children donated their own toys and clothing.

Antoinette Locks, claims supervisor, said she had no idea exactly how bad the damage was.

“I was truly shocked at the devastation. This was my first time doing something like this and even though I didn’t know them, and they didn’t know me, every little bit we did truly helped.  This is what it’s all about,” said Antoinette.

Flores Family DebrisOne example of the impact this group made was when they came across the home of an elderly couple who hadn’t been able to remove their damaged furniture and had been sitting in their home for days with no assistance. Team members removed the flooded furniture from the home and Regional Human Resources Manager Pauline Gallien’s husband, who had come along to assist, helped the couple fill out a FEMA application on his iPad since their computer was damaged in the flood.

All across Texas, people are donating time and resources to help their neighbors through this tough situation. If you would like to as well, we have invited our agents, policyholders and employees to join with us in giving by visiting the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation website. There, you can make a donation toward the flood recovery and direct it to one of four disaster relief organizations: Red Cross of Central Texas, Austin Disaster Relief, Salvation Army of Texas or Texas Search and Rescue.

This Week in Comp, June 12, 2015

Agents need to know: Texas workers’ comp e-mods changing
Effective July 1, Texas will utilize the National Council on Compensation Insurance Experience Rating Plan. Changes to the e-mod formula could trigger increases in a company’s e-mod, even if the company’s loss experience has not changed…MORE

AIA supports legislation to improve administration of workers’ comp set-asides
legislationThe legislation requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to adhere to state laws when reviewing workers’ compensation Medicare set-asides. This is a pervasive workers’ compensation claims problem that impacts all stakeholders, injured workers, employers, insurers and state workers’ compensation agencies…MORE

South Carolina jumps aboard workers’ comp alternative bandwagon
A South Carolina lawmaker has introduced legislation that would allow employers to be exempt from obtaining workers’ compensation insurance coverage and instead obtain certification from the South Carolina Department of Insurance to provide coverage through a qualified employer injury plan…MORE

Texas debuts at #9 on list of 10 states with lowest unintentional fatality rates
West Virginia registered the highest unintentional death rate for the fourth consecutive year, and Maryland registered the lowest, according to a National Safety Council report. The report considers motor vehicle accidents, falls and poisonings, largely from drug overdoses, as unintentional deaths…MORE

High-growth agencies build business differently
MoneytrendAttracting and retaining talent is a challenge facing insurance agencies. High-growth agencies value specialized skills over insurance industry expertise. They also monitor market trends to better understand their clients’ needs and deliver services that meet those needs, according to a recent survey…MORE

 

Texas Mutual pays $186,244 dividend to Texas Church Group
The workers’ compensation dividend was based largely on Texas Church Group members’ collective efforts to prevent workplace accidents and control their associated costs…MORE

Regulatory roundup
Texas Mutual’s weekly digest of safety-related regulatory news…MORE

Wet spring hasn’t extinguished wildfire risk
Wildfires could affect more than 706,000 Texas homes, despite an unusually wet spring. Nationally, 4.5 million homes are at risk, including more than 2 million in California…MORE

Smart cars don’t eliminate human errors
Human error drives 94 percent of motor vehicle accidents. Computers can’t eliminate mistakes from the traffic accident equation, in part because they don’t “bend” traffic rules the same way humans do…MORE

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