This Week in Comp, July 31

Tired? Take a deep breath and relax
On-the-job fatigue can have fatal consequences, especially behind the wheel. If we manage our stress, we can control fatigue and protect ourselves and others…MORE

OSHA proposes tightening injury record-keeping rules
OSHA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that clarifies an employer’s continuing obligation to make and maintain an accurate record of each recordable injury and illness throughout the five-year period during which the employer is required to keep the records…MORE

Texas Mutual pays $73,699 dividend to Texas Lumber and Wood Products safety group
Dollar BillsThe workers’ compensation dividend was based largely on the  Texas Lumber and Wood Products collective safety record. Group dividends are separate from the $225 million in individual policyholder dividends Texas Mutual is distributing among qualifying customers in…MORE

California workers’ comp reforms bring savings, state report says

California workers’ comp reforms enacted in 2013 have translated to a 30 percent increase in benefits for workers with permanent disabilities, a 3.3 percent reduction in medical costs and a 10 percent drop in premiums…MORE

The thermometer might not read 100, but…
OSHA’s annual Water. Rest. Shade. campaign reminds us that the heat index, not the temperature, is a more accurate measure of the true effect of heat on the body. The heat index considers temperature and humidity…MORE

Tired? Take a deep breath and relax
On-the-job fatigue can have fatal consequences, especially behind the wheel. If we manage our stress, we can control fatigue and protect ourselves and others…MORE

TDI-DWC issues bulletin on medical records for designated doctor examinations
The DWC reminds system participants that 28 Texas Administrative Code § 127.10(a)(3) requires treating doctors and insurance carriers to provide all required medical records and any analyses to the designated doctor no later than three business days prior to a designated doctor examination…MORE

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

Health and safety go together like…
healthy livingWhen it comes to employee health, disease management and prevention get most of the attention. But occupational safety should be an integral part of any wellness strategy, according to experts who developed guidance to help employers integrate their health and safety programs…MORE

LUBA Workers’ Comp announces expansion into Texas
The Louisiana-based company offers coverage in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas through select, independent insurance agencies…MORE

10 children injured in crash of church van on Oklahoma highway

The children were injured when a tire blowout caused the passenger van they were traveling in to roll over…MORE
 

Tired? Take a Deep Breath and Relax

Employers can help workers manage stress and its symptoms, including fatigue, by giving them more control over their schedules. Click the image above to listen to a CDC podcast for more information.

Employers can help workers manage stress and its symptoms, including fatigue, by giving them more control over their schedules. Click the image above to listen to a CDC podcast for more information.

Ever wonder why there are only 24 hours in a day? You can thank the ancient Egyptians and their base 12 system of counting.

The concept worked well in 3000 BC, when shadow clocks and sun dials were all the rage. But things have changed a bit in past 8,000 years, including technology and the demands on our time.

Busy people juggling personal and professional lives are the norm, not the exception. Conference calls, meetings, kids’ soccer games, doctor’s appointments and longer commutes consume more of our attention. Sandwiched between our myriad responsibilities, if we’re lucky, is an ounce of “me time.” We’re putting more on our plates, but the clock isn’t adjusting accordingly. If we could ask the Egyptians one thing, it would likely be: “Why’d you stop at 24 hours?”

Eventually, the stress of trying to do more with less can break even the most organized, efficient of us. One in seven people report that they quit a job because of stress, according to a study by the mental health charity Mind.

Firefighting is America’s most stressful job, followed by military personnel and airline pilots, according to an annual survey by CareerCast. It seems shift work, hazardous situations and putting someone else’s life in your hands can be disregulating, to put it mildly.

Stress is the body’s reaction to anything that disrupts our routine. You’re probably familiar with the emotional symptoms of stress: moodiness, difficulty relaxing and lack of concentration. But did you know stress can also sap your energy as much as a sleepless night? Here are a few tips for keeping stress in check:

  1. Learn the signs of stress, and recognize when it might be time to see a physician.
  2. Exercise regularly. Exercise produces endorphins, the body’s “feel good” chemical.
  3. Choose foods that tame stress. Comfort foods, like a bowl of warm oatmeal, boost levels of serotonin, a calming brain chemical, according to WebMD. Salmon, tuna and other fatty fish can cut levels of cortisol and adrenaline, which are stress hormones that take a toll on the body.
  4. Avoid the urge to take on more commitments than your schedule allows.
  5. Manage your time effectively. If you find yourself consistently focusing on urgent tasks, your life can seem like a fire drill. Make time for tasks that are important but not urgent, and you can lay the foundation for long-term success and less stress.
  6. Carve out time for yourself, without worrying about responsibilities.
  7. Call it diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing or paced respiration. For our purposes, it’s called deep breathing, and it has been proven to ease stress.

Missed our previous posts?
This is the last in a series of four posts showing how a commitment to wellness can help workers manage fatigue. If you missed our previous posts, click the links to read them:

Sleep Well

Eat Your Way to a Healthier, More Energetic You

7 Tips for Working Out Fatigue

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

With Seatbelts, You’re Just One Click from a Safe Commute

Previous installments in our “Become a Safer Driver in 60 Seconds” video series shared these tips for steering clear of motor vehicle accidents:

  • Power down
  • Lie down
  • Slow down
  • Calm down

We saved the most important tip for last: buckle up. Using only an egg, a spoon and some duct tape, Woody Hill explains an indisputable law of physics and demonstrates the importance of wearing your seat belt.

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:

Mad Driving is Dangerous Driving

Don’t Fall Asleep on the Job

Driven to Distraction?

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

Going from 0 to 60 Safely

This Week in Comp, July 17

7 tips for working out fatigue

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.

If swimsuit season and a longer life aren’t enough motivation to break a sweat, consider this: Exercise can help you ward off fatigue…MORE

Study shows cell phone message alerts are as disruptive as using phone
The findings are significant because many public information campaigns emphasize waiting to respond to messages and calls. However, even waiting may take a toll on attention. Simply remembering to perform some action in the future is sufficient to disrupt driving performance…MORE

WCIRB says California has most prolonged treatment in nation
About 17 percent of the studied claims lasted three years or more, accounting for $1.5 billion, or 35 percent, of total medical payments…MORE

Why back surgery rates vary by location
Back injuries account for approximately one-fifth of injuries covered by workers’ compensation. Workers are more likely to have surgery for back injuries in states that have surgery-intensive local practice norms, higher reimbursement rates for surgery and more surgeons in an area, according to a Workers’ Compensation Research Institute study…MORE

Fate of Florida’s work comp system may fall on state supreme court
legislation
The court will rule on whether the “exclusiveness of liability” provision of the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law that immunizes an employer and its employees from lawsuits for covered, work-related injuries is unconstitutional…MORE

Minnesota approves marijuana for use in workers’ comp claims
Business Insurance reports that the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry adopted a rule establishing criteria for long-term opioid treatment that also said medical marijuana is not an “illegal substance” for injured workers under state law. Marijuana use remains illegal under federal law, however. Some stakeholders consider marijuana an effective alternative to long-term opioid use…MORE

NSC calls for comprehensive workplace policies on painkiller use
In some cases where injured workers have gotten addicted to prescription painkillers, courts have ordered employers and workers’ compensation insurance carriers to pay for detoxification, medication-assisted treatment and death benefits to surviving family members. The National Safety Council has issued best practices for protecting workers and mitigating liability, including the use of use prescription drug monitoring programs…MORE

Missing word leads to reversal of Nebraska workers’ comp ruling in employee’s favor
The employee was injured during a cookout for the company’s customers. The workers’ compensation court found that his injury occurred in the course of employment because “the co-op received a substantial benefit from his attendance.” But the Nebraska Supreme Court said  the standard for whether an employee is entitled to benefits when injured at a social event tied to employment is “a substantial direct benefit,” not merely a “substantial benefit…” MORE

More than 1 in 10 small businesses concerned about fraud, study finds
Handcuff FraudMore than 1 in 10 small businesses that participated in an Employers Insurance poll said they are concerned their employees will commit workers’ comp fraud. The study also found that nearly one-quarter of small-business owners have installed surveillance cameras to monitor employees for fraudulent activity…MORE

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

Mad Driving is Dangerous Driving

Most things are more difficult when you’re angry, and driving is no exception. Road rage caused more than 1,000 crashes in Texas during 2013. In this short video, Woody Hill shares tips that will make you a calm, cool, collected and safer driver.

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:

Don’t Fall Asleep on the Job

Driven to Distraction?

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

Going from 0 to 60 Safely

7 Tips for Working Out Fatigue

In a Standford University study, cycling helped cut the time insomniacs needed to fall asleep by nearly half. Here, Texas Mutual president and CEO Rich Gergasko (right) and Randy Johnson, senior vice president of investments, take a well-deserved break after completing the annual MS 150 bike ride.

In a Standford University study, cycling helped cut the time insomniacs needed to fall asleep by nearly half. Here, Texas Mutual president and CEO Rich Gergasko (right) and Randy Johnson, senior vice president of investments, take a well-deserved break after completing the annual MS 150 bike ride.

Visions of a beach-ready body are all the motivation some of us need to run that extra mile or squeeze out a few more pushups. For others, avoiding obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases is the carrot that gets us off the couch and on the stationary bike.

If swimsuit season and a longer life aren’t enough motivation to break a sweat, consider this: Exercise can help you ward off fatigue.

Of course, when you’re tired, a good nap likely trumps a brisk walk. But if you can muster the motivation to get moving, you just might find yourself refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your day.

More than 90 percent of studies show that sedentary people who complete a regular exercise program report reduced fatigue. The benefits of exercise prove even greater than those of stimulant medications.

If you want to reap the benefits of exercise, you have to make it a lifestyle. Some experts will tell you it takes 22 days to create a habit. Others say 66 days. What matters most is day one. Here are some basic tips for introducing physical activity into your daily grind:

  1. Consult your physician. The Mayo Clinic suggests you talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. Together, you can create a plan that is right for you.
  2. Start slowly. To maintain cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week, or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week. Don’t think of exercise as an all-or-nothing endeavor, though. With your doctor’s guidance, start slowly and build as your stamina increases.
  3. Take a brisk walk to ward off a post-meal crash.
  4. Eat a light snack 45 minutes to an hour before you exercise.
  5. Mix it up. If you limit your exercise to one or two activities, you are more likely to get bored. And boredom can derail the best-laid plans to get fit. Choose a good mix of the four basic exercises: aerobic, strength, flexibility and balance.
  6. When doing strength training, choose exercises that target multiple muscle groups, such as pushups and lunges.
  7. Allow time to recover. If you experience irritability, anxiety, delayed recovery, decreased interest in exercise or other signs of overtraining, your body might be telling you it needs a break.

Missed our other posts?
This is the third in a series of four posts showing how a commitment to wellness can help workers manage fatigue. If you missed our previous posts, click the links to read them:

Sleep Well

Eat Your Way to a Healthier, More Energetic You

Up next
In our last post in this series, we’ll share some tips for managing stress and the fatigue that often accompanies it.

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

This Week in Comp, July 10

New Oklahoma law requires middle school, high school safety training
teen worker
NIOSH partners at the Oklahoma Department of Labor will collaborate with the Oklahoma State Department of Education to make information regarding workplace safety and health available to schools…MORE

Insurance industry explores Google Glass uses
Insurance isn’t likely to crack many lists of up-and-coming, dynamic industries. It may not be long, however, that you can forget everything you thought you knew about our industry, thanks to Google Glass and other wearable technology…MORE

Construction companies: Are you ready for OSHA’s new confined space rule?
The new Occupational Safety and Health Administration confined space rule for the construction industry goes into effect on Aug. 3, 2015. This infographic explains what employers need to know about the new rule…MORE

CDC report uncovers link between opioid abuse and heroin
Opioid abuse is the strongest risk factor for heroin use, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. The report showed that 45 percent of people who used heroin were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers…MORE

Opioid use decreasing in workers’ comp
Pills White BackgroundAfter two decades of unprecedented growth, opioid use in workers’ comp is on the decline, according to a new WorkCompCentral report. The report cites strong controls and transparency, as well as the medical community’s reluctance to prescribe opioids without follow-up, as reasons for the decline…MORE

1 in 4 opioid scripts ends up “long term” – Mayo Clinic
In a  Mayo Clinic study, 21 percent of patients prescribed opioids took them for three to four months, and six percent ended up with more than a four-month supply. People with histories of tobacco use and substance abuse were the most likely to use opioid painkillers long-term…MORE

Turning office workers into athletes

Click on the image for more information about the symbiotic relationship between worker wellness and safety.

Click on the image for more information about the symbiotic relationship between worker wellness and safety.

A Montreal kinesiology researcher is looking at ways to help office workers keep their bodies in top working condition and avoid the musculoskeletal disorders that often result from a sedentary lifestyle…MORE

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

Willis Group, Towers Watson agree to $18 billion merger
The firms predict Towers Watson’s relationships will increase Willis’ penetration in the large U.S. property/casualty insurance corporate market. Meanwhile, Willis will help expand Towers Watson’s business internationally. The combined firm will advise 80 percent of the world’s top-1000 companies…MORE

A.M. Best special report: State funds’ net premiums written increased for fourth consecutive year in 2014
Net premiums written among U.S. state workers’ compensation funds grew 11.5 percent to $8.5 billion, the highest level since 2006, during 2014, according to a new report from A.M. Best. Collectively, state funds accounted for 18 percent of workers’ compensation written in the United States in 2014, up from 17 percent in 2013 and a low of 15 percent in 2011. The report points to improved underwriting and overall operating performances since the end of the prior soft market in 2010 and 2011 as reasons for the growth…MORE

AASCIF 2015 whirlwind of change: Where do I begin?
If the presentations at this week’s AASCIF annual conference are any indication, the workers’ comp industry as a whole, and state funds in particular, will witness a whirlwind of change in the not-so-distant future. Bob Wilson promises to share the details on his popular “From Bob’s Cluttered Desk” blog…MORE

Texas Mutual Presents $25,000 Donations to Lubbock and Amarillo United Way organizations

Story[1]Texas Mutual CEO Rich Gergasko recently visited Lubbock and Amarillo to present $25,000 checks to the United Way of Amarillo and Canyon and the Lubbock Area United Way. The two $25,000 donations were made with funds given through a corporate matching program as part of Texas Mutual’s annual employee fundraising campaign for the United Way this spring.

This year’s corporate United Way campaign was record breaking as employees donated more than $140,000 for the United Way for Greater Austin, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Lubbock Area United Way and United Way of Greater Houston. An additional $126,000 was given by the company as the Board of Directors approved a corporate matching program for the first time this year.

While funds raised through the employee campaign have historically been distributed to the United Way organizations in the cities where Texas Mutual offices are located, the company extended its philanthropic reach even further and made a $25,000 donation to the United Way of Amarillo and Canyon, an area where Texas Mutual does not have an office.

The company’s presence in Lubbock made it a natural extension to also give back to Amarillo, a community where many of our employees’ families live and many of our policyholders work. In fact, Texas Mutual has approximately 1,100 clients in Amarillo, Canyon and the surrounding area.

These donations will be used in the communities to support both United Way efforts and United Way partner agencies. In the Amarillo area, the money will be used to fund programs that aim to improve education, income stability, health and basic needs. The Lubbock Area United Way will use the donation to the assist their agencies that specialize in helping people find more affordable child care, promoting adult literacy and providing job training.

With the donation to United Way of Amarillo and Canyon, Texas Mutual became the local United Way’s first 2015 Presidential Partner.

Learn more about Texas Mutual’s community involvement by clicking here.

Don’t Fall Asleep on the Job

Have you ever dosed off while watching a movie and woken up to realize you missed half of it? You didn’t mean to doze off; it just happened. In this installment of our safe-driving video series, Woody Hill reminds us that the same thing can happen behind the wheel. But the results can be much more serious.

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:

Driven to Distraction?

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

Going from 0 to 60 Safely

This Week in Comp, July 2

Turn up the heat on driver safety during the summer

Drunk driving claimed 200 lives on July 4, 2013. Click on the image for safety tips to keep in mind this holiday weekend.

Drunk driving claimed 199 lives on July 4, 2013. Click on the image for safety tips to keep in mind this holiday weekend.

The most dangerous days to be on the road are the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Drivers can protect themselves by being more aware of motorcycles, construction zones, children and drunk drivers…MORE

Insurance industry adds 6,000 jobs in May

The industry grew by 0.24 percent in May, and now sits at 2,539,800 employed insurance workers with an unemployment rate of 1.5 percent, compared with 5.5 percent across industries…MORE

Key factors in weathering disasters

Companies are increasingly turning to enterprise risk management, which is more comprehensive than traditional risk management, to weather disasters, according to a report by Sedgwick. Business continuity planning and disaster recovery are core elements businesses should consider…MORE

California workers’ comp losses and expenses for 2014 rise, ratios fall
Losses and expenses in the California workers’ comp system rose by a combined $1 billion in 2014. The combined loss and expense ratio for calendar year 2014 was 104 percent, down from calendar year 2013’s 108 percent ratio…MORE

CNA releases reports on opioid abuse in construction, manufacturing industries

Pills White BackgroundThe reports estimate that 15.1 and 6.5 percent of construction and manufacturing workers, respectively, have engaged in illicit drug use…MORE

How terrorism reinsurance law uncertainty affected market
A brief lapse in the Terrorism Reinsurance Act during 2015, coupled with uncertainty around whether Congress would renew the act, spurred some insurers to change their behavior, according to a Marsh report. For example, Marsh said that terrorism insurance take-up rates have been relatively stable since 2009. However, they dipped a bit in 2014 due to anxiety about whether Congress would renew the act. The new law will likely nudge the take-up rates of embedded TRIPRA coverage to revert to normal levels, the report said…MORE

Shakeup in top 10 workers’ comp writers: 2014 vs. 2009
Traditional market leaders Liberty Mutual and AIG have significantly reduced workers’ comp premiums over time to combat weaker underwriting performance and reduce longer-tail risk exposures. They have been replaced by the likes of Travelers and The Hartford at the top of the list…MORE

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

Survey finds doctors misunderstand opioid abuse, continue overprescribing
Nearly half of doctors who participated in the survey incorrectly thought abuse-deterrent drugs were less addictive than their standard counterparts. Prescription drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990 and have never been higher…MORE

Fitness shoes

For more information on the symbiotic relationship between worker health and safety, click on the image to visit our Work Safe, Texas website.

Reuniting health and safety
Companies that treat employee health and employee safety as separate programs do so at the expense of the bottom line. By integrating the two functions, companies can cut costs and increase profits…MORE

Eat your way to a more energetic you
A balanced diet of energy-producing foods can help workers ward off fatigue and its potentially fatal consequences…MORE

Google offering railroad crossing alerts for drivers
Google will add audio and visual alerts to warn drivers about upcoming railroad crossings on its navigation system…MORE

New Mexico court rules farm, ranch laborers eligible for workers’ comp
Since 1930, employees whose duties focus primarily on growing and harvesting crops, meat or dairy products have been ineligible for workers’ comp benefits in New Mexico. The court’s decision stems from two separate cases in which individual workers injured on the job had their claims dismissed…MORE

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