Regulatory Roundup, October 30, 2015

Texas Mutual News

Texas Mutual enters new risk management partnership with El Paso Community College

Woody Hill, vice president of safety services at Texas Mutual, presents a $100,000 workplace safety education grant to El Paso Community College.

Woody Hill, vice president of safety services at Texas Mutual, presents a $100,000 workplace safety education grant to El Paso Community College.

A $100,000 Texas Mutual grant will fund the creation of a risk management institute at El Paso Community College. The institute will provide free workplace safety training for the public. Texas Mutual maintains similar partnerships with four other Texas colleges…MORE

Flu season is serious business
Each flu season, Americans miss nearly 111 million work days. That equals approximately $7 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity…MORE

Watch the clock
Workplace injury rates spike during the week following the beginning or end of Daylight Saving Time. Before you “fall back” this Sunday, we encourage you to review these safety tips…MORE

Texas Department of Health & Human Services (DHS)

DHS encourages Texans to work well
The DHS rolled out an online hub for all things worker wellness. The site makes the business case for wellness, offers six tips for launching a wellness program and provides examples of easily implemented wellness activities…MORE

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)

New FRA chief to focus on innovation
In an effort to reduce collisions, the FRA recently partnered with Google to create audio and visual alerts near grade crossings on Google maps. That is the type of innovation new FRA administrator Sarah Feinberg wants to see more of…MORE

Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC)

Texas workplace injury, illness rate decreased in 2014
DecreaseThe Texas rate of nonfatal injuries and illnesses in private industry decreased to 2.4 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers in 2014, down from 2.6 in 2013. The Texas rate is below the national rate of 3.2. The subsector with the largest decrease was leather and allied product manufacturing, which declined 70 percent…MORE

DWC announces “N” listing of Fentanyl patches and MS-Contin
Effective February 1, 2016, prescriptions for Fentanyl transdermal patches and MS-Contin will require preauthorization…MORE

Chemical Safety Board (CSB)

CSB issues recommendations in response to DuPont Le Porte incident
The recommendations include performing a robust process hazard analysis to identify and control hazards, and conducting an inherently safer design review…MORE

Federal Legislation

SAFE Act would protect domestic violence survivors in the workplace
The bill would require employers to make reasonable safety precautions or job-related modifications if requested by an employee. It would also ensure that survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking who have been separated from their employment as a result of such violence are eligible for unemployment insurance…MORE

Houston-area reps push for more pipeline inspectors
The government agency that oversees America’s 2.6 million miles of pipeline cites a cumbersome hiring process and inability to match private industry salaries as reasons it remains under-staffed. The bill would eliminate a lengthy vetting process and waive competitive rating and ranking requirements from the hiring process…MORE

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

AIHA and NIOSH roll out “safety matters” program for young workers
teen workerThe one-hour, interactive training program covers hazard identification, injury and illness prevention and emergency response. It also teaches young workers how to communicate with others when they feel unsafe or threatened…MORE

What drives us to text behind the wheel?
A psychological inability to wait for rewards might drive some of us to send text messages while driving, according to NIOSH research. Simply put, we want what we want, and we want it now. For more on this topic and others, see the October edition of NIOSH Research Rounds…MORE

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

NYC raiding job sites in search of fake safety certifications
With construction-related work deaths on the rise, New York City officials have busted more than 20 workers with fake OSHA training cards since the beginning of the year…MORE

Court rejects OSHA’s attempt to expand machine guarding standard scope
The case involved a worker who was killed when a metal piece broke free from a lathe and struck him in the head. OSHA cited the company for failure to employ barrier guards. The court concluded that the machine guarding standard focuses on “point-of-contact risks and risks associated with the routine operation of lathes, such as flakes and sparks.” It does not, however, contemplate the catastrophic failure of a lathe that would result in a work piece being thrown out of the lathe…MORE

The clock’s ticking: What can OSHA accomplish under current administration?
In 2016, the White House will have a new resident. That’s not enough time for OSHA to accomplish everything on its regulatory agenda. Final rules on silica, beryllium and electronic recordkeeping could make the cut. Combustible dust and injury and illness prevention programs, meanwhile, are not likely to see the light of day anytime soon…MORE

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Worker injury rate falls again in 2014
In 2014, 3.2 recordable cases occurred per 100 full-time workers in the private industry, compared with 3.3 the year before. However, only the retail trade, health care, social assistance, accommodation and food services sectors experienced a decline in injury and illness rates in 2014…MORE

Studies, Resources, Trends, News

Underwriting Laboratories researching health risks of wearable technology
Underwriting Laboratories (UL) is researching how heat and optical emissions produced by wearables affect worker health. Standards groups have set a 122 degrees Fahrenheit heat limit for IT equipment that may be touched “continuously,” such as laptops, but those levels might no longer be applicable for something worn on skin. UL also wants to know what long-term exposure to augmented-reality glasses could mean for a user’s optical health…MORE

Pinnacol adding free worksite wellness programs for Colorado policyholders
healthy living
Pinnacol Assurance, Texas Mutual’s Colorado counterpart, now offers policyholders access to community health resources and coordination arrangements with health plans. Insurers like Pinnacol increasingly recognize the symbiotic relationship between employee health and safety…MORE

With OSHA amping up its focus on amputations, here are 6 tips every employer should follow
In August, OSHA announced that it will target workplaces with machinery and equipment that cause or are capable of causing amputations. A mix of employee training, machine guarding and polices/procedures can protect workers and help keep employers off OSHA’s radar…MORE

Watch the Clock

On Sunday, Americans will set their clocks back one hour as we switch from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time. While we all enjoy having an extra hour of sleep, the switch to Standard Time can increase the risk of workplace injuries. Here are a few tips for a smooth, injury-free transition.

See the light
When the clocks “fall back,” it means that sunrise and sunset are each one hour earlier. Expect to have more light for morning tasks and less light for afternoon and evening tasks. Light levels may not seem like a big deal, but they impact our environment’s visibility levels and our body’s sleep cycles.

Travel smart
Visibility is particularly important for motorists. If you will be driving, walking or working near roadways, be prepared for the change in light levels in November. Keep your windshield clean, use your sun visor, and wear sunglasses as necessary during morning trips.

For trips at the end of the day, remember to turn your headlights on at dusk and regularly scan the sides of the road for pedestrians and animals. Use extra caution on the road during the first few days of Standard Time because many drivers will not take these precautions.

Sleep well
Changes in daylight hours impact more than our driving. They also impact our bodies’ sleep cycles. Our brains constantly monitor the level of natural light in our environment. When it starts to get dark outside, our bodies begin preparing for sleep. We experience this preparation as a feeling of fatigue or sluggishness.

Once Standard Time starts, our bodies will naturally begin preparing for sleep one hour earlier in the day. To prepare for the change, catch up on your sleep during the week leading up to the switch to Standard Time. Plan to sleep more during the week after the time change to minimize its effects. Also, avoid hazardous activities after dusk whenever possible.

Protect your family
Daylight Saving Time requires everyone to reset their clocks twice per year. Many home safety activities should also be performed twice per year. When you reset your clocks, remember to also:

  • Replace the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Check the gauge of home fire extinguishers
  • Review your home evacuation plan with everyone in your household

Attn. employers
Each year, workplace injury rates spike during the week following the beginning or end of Daylight Saving Time. Pay close attention to employee fatigue levels, and schedule additional job hazard analyses and safety meetings to maintain awareness of workplace hazards.


Flu Season is Serious Business for Employers

Click here for a one-minute podcast on preventing the flu, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Click here for a one-minute podcast on preventing the flu, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Have you used an office phone, had a face-to-face conversation or inhaled today? If so, you could be one of the estimated 62 million Americans who will catch the flu this year.

Each flu season, Americans miss nearly 111 million workdays. That equals approximately $7 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity.

Flu season starts in the fall and peaks in January and February. Texas Mutual encourages employers to promote these everyday preventive measures among their employees:

  1. Get a flu shot. Experts agree that getting a flu shot is the most effective thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone who is six months old or older get vaccinated, especially those in a high-risk group. Many pharmacies, clinics and community centers offer free or low-cost flu shots.
  2. Learn how the flu spreads. Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with the flu virus on it, and then touch their mouth, eyes or nose.
  3. Each flu season, Americans miss nearly 111 million workdays. That equals approximately $7 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity.
  4. Wash your hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. And avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. That is how germs spread.
  5. Get some space. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  6. Take care of yourself. Employee wellness and safety are inseparable. Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat healthy food.
  7. Keep coughs and sneezes to yourself. Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. If you use a tissue, immediately throw it in the trash.
  8. Learn the symptoms of the flu. Symptoms can include coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and chills. It is important to note, however, that not everyone who has the flu will experience fever.
  9. Know what to do if you get sick. If you suspect you have the flu, the CDC recommends you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, without the use of fever-reducing medications, except to seek medical care. It is important to see your doctor as soon as possible because the flu can exacerbate chronic medical conditions. It can also lead to other illnesses, such as bacterial pneumonia and ear infections.
  10. Get more information. Free resources for protecting yourself, your family and your co-workers are available from the American Red Cross, CDC, and

Regulatory Roundup, October 23, 2015

Texas Mutual News

Texas Mutual hosts luncheons honoring safety award winners

The City of Midland declared Wednesday, Oct. 21 Work Safe Midland Day. Texas Mutual's Woody Hill (left) and Jeremiah Bentley (middle) accepted the proclamation from Midland City Council member John B. Love III.

The City of Midland declared Wednesday, Oct. 21 Work Safe Midland Day. Texas Mutual’s Woody Hill (left) and Jeremiah Bentley (middle) accepted the proclamation from Midland City Council member John B. Love III.

This week, Texas Mutual hosted luncheons in recognition of our safety award winners in Midland and Odessa. Next Wednesday, we’ll host a similar event in honor of our Corpus Christi-area winners. We invite award winners, insurance agents and local officials to the events…MORE

Dear drivers: Please use extra caution this fall
Your odds of hitting a deer or other animal in October, November and December double. Here are a few tips for sharing the road with four-legged travelers this fall, courtesy of the Insurance Council of Texas…MORE

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA extends PSM compliance deadline for retailers
OSHA has extended its process safety management retail exemption until July 22, 2016. OSHA cites limited availability of compliance resources as the reason for the extension…MORE

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

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.

FMCSA, FRA begin work on sleep apnea rulemaking
The FMCSA and Federal Railroad Administration initiated a rulemaking project to evaluate – and treat, when applicable – workers who exhibit risk factors for sleep apnea…MORE

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

New virtual health center promotes worker wellness
NIOSH’s National Center for Productive Aging and Work will develop a research plan for improving the safety and health of workers of all ages. The center will also facilitate collaboration among researchers and partners, develop new interventions, and highlight best practices for creating “aging-friendly” workplaces…MORE

 Studies, Resources, Trends, News

Free webinar explains updates to NFPA 70
The webinar will be held on Nov. 2, 2015, at 11 a.m. EST. It will cover terminology changes, coverage requirements, changes for manufactures, hazard analysis and FR clothing compliance requirements…MORE

New database gives public access to fines issued by regulatory agencies
On October 27, the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First will unveil a free database that covers some 100,000 environmental, health and safety cases brought by federal agencies since 2010…MORE

Driver distraction persists long after hands-free tasks end
distracted-driver-2Drivers remain distracted up to 27 seconds after completing a call or other task on a hands-free device. That’s long enough for a car traveling 40 miles per hour to cover the length of six football fields, according to a AAA study…MORE

Associations release revised first aid guidelines
The American Red Cross and American Heart Association have released revised guidelines for administering first aid. The revisions include updated recommendations for treatment of bleeding, stroke recognition, and treating anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) and hypoglycemia in diabetics…MORE

Dear Drivers: Please Use Extra Caution This Fall

By David Wylie, Senior Technical Writer

By David Wylie, Senior Technical Writer

I recently made a very public, painful admission on this blog: I’m not from around these parts.

I spent the majority of my formative years in the Lone Star State, but I begrudgingly admit that I was, in fact, born in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

My mother remembers that as a student driver, she was taught a few things that aren’t in the curriculum in warmer parts of the country:

  1. Add 30 minutes to your morning commute. That’s about how long you’ll need to shovel your car out of the snow.
  2. Carry flashlights, blankets and other essentials. It’s not a matter of if you end up in a snow drift; it’s a matter of when. And you don’t know how long you’ll sit there before someone comes by and pulls you out. Remember, this was before cell phones.
  3. And finally, drive cautiously on rural roads, where deer are likely to cross.

The odds that a driver will have a claim from hitting a deer, elk or moose are 1 out of 169, according to an Insurance Journal article. The likelihood more than doubles during October, November and December.

To put that in perspective, you have a 1 in 36 chance of being a Price is Right contestant, a 1 in 175 chance of being audited by the IRS, and a 1 in 12,000 chance of finding a pearl in an oyster.

Not bad, but before you write off close encounters with deer as a risk you’re willing to accept, consider this: A full-grown buck is perfectly capable of totaling your vehicle and seriously injuring you.

Here are some tips for sharing the road with our four-legged fellow travelers this fall, courtesy of our partners at the Insurance Council of Texas:

  • Remember that deer activity is highest during dusk and dawn.
  • Drive defensively when approaching wooded draws or creek bottoms that intersect highways, especially in agricultural settings.
  • Be on the lookout when travelling newly constructed roads through deer habitat.
  • Use extreme caution when you see highway traffic signs indicating deer crossings, especially in the early morning and evening.
  • Scan roadways for deer, looking for eye reflections at night. Enlist passengers’ help.
  • Remember that vehicle headlights often daze or confuse deer. If you encounter a deer, slow down and maintain control. Steer straight rather than risk losing control and colliding with oncoming traffic or hitting objects off the road. Use your emergency flashers, or pump the brakes to alert vehicles approaching from behind.
  • Understand that deer are social animals that often travel in family groups. If you see one deer, there’s a good chance more are following.
  • Do not exit your vehicle to go check on a deer that has been hit. You are putting yourself at risk of being hit by a passing vehicle or attacked by a wounded animal. Stay in your vehicle and call emergency services.
  • Practice the basics: Wear your seatbelt, avoid distractions, stay alert and control your speed.

Texas Mutual CEO Shaves His Head For Austin Heart Walk

Texas Mutual CEO and American Heart Association Heart Walk Chair Rich Gergasko challenged employees last week to make the final push toward reaching a corporate fundraising goal of $50,000 – with the promise that he would step into the barber’s chair for a buzz cut if the goal was met!

Employees breezed past the goal earlier this week and raised almost $55,000 to help put an end to heart disease and stroke. Rich was joined by dozens of employees in the atrium of Texas Mutual’s corporate office for the celebratory haircut and expressed gratitude for so many employees stepping up to the plate.

Employees have been fundraising for the last several weeks with pledges from family and friends, creative fundraisers at work and more. Hundreds of Texas Mutual team members have participated in fundraising and around 240 employees will be at the Austin Heart Walk this Saturday morning.

The American Heart Association Austin Heart Walk brings together thousands of central Texans each year to raise money to help build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. To donate to this great organization or learn more, visit

Regulatory Roundup, October 16, 2015

Regulatory Roundup is a weekly compilation of health and safety news from around the world.

Texas Mutual News

Where there’s fire, there’s smoke
FireThis week’s Bastrop blaze sent thick clouds of smoke into Austin, reminding us you don’t have to be in the eye of fire to be at risk…MORE

Ronnie’s story
An electrician with 20 years’ experience suffers a sever shock and loses both arms. Eighteen months later, he returns to the team. This is Ronnie’s story, and this is how we want every workplace injury story to end…MORE

Federal Legislation

Senators reintroduce Hide No Harm Act
legislationThe legislation calls for corporate officers to be fined and imprisoned up to five years if they knowingly cover up information or fail to warn workers or consumers about dangers associated with a product or practice…MORE

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

CDC funds six new infectious disease prevention epicenters
??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Researchers will work to identify new ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as Ebola in health care facilities…MORE

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Are anti-vibration gloves a gimmick?
Some anti-vibration gloves reduce vibration only 5 to 20 percent. Others actually increase vibration, according to new research conducted by NIOSH…MORE

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA updates trenching and excavation safety guide
The updated guide includes a new section on safety factors an employer should consider when bidding on a job. Expanded sections describe maintaining materials and equipment used for worker protection systems…MORE

Proposed budget cuts OSHA funding by 7 percent
MoneytrendOSHA is inspecting less than 40 percent of the injury and illness reports it has received since rolling out its revised reporting requirements on Jan. 1, 2015, according to Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of OSHA. In recent testimony before Congress, Michaels noted the agency only has the resources to inspect each job site once every 140 years. Still, Congress’ proposed budget cuts OSHA funding by 7 percent…MORE

AIHA offers chemical exposure management recommendations
Permissible exposure limits (PELs) should be consistent across occupational populations and accepted by other federal agencies. That is just one recommendation submitted by the American Industrial Hygiene Association in response to an OSHA request for information. In the absence of updated PELs, OSHA encourages employers to follow more stringent limits set by other organizations…MORE

New website allows users to search penalties by state
OSHA launched a website that allows users to search OSHA citations of $40,000 or more…MORE

Studies, Resources, Trends, News

Why wellness and prevention equal early intervention
ExercisingThe workers’ compensation system is designed to address injuries after the fact. That approach drives up costs for insurers and employers. A workplace wellness program can help prevent injuries and control the costs associated with claims…MORE

5 best practices for workplace wellness programs
Employee wellness and safety are inseparable. A new resource offers simple, cost-effective, proven strategies for launching a workplace wellness program…MORE

New website sheds light on hazards associated with nano materials
Construction is seeing the introduction of remarkable new nano-enabled products that are lighter, stronger and more wear-resistant. But nanoparticles also pose health risks workers need to know about. A new website,, helps construction workers learn more about nanomaterials used in their trade…MORE

Study: Cars, child seats not compatible 42% of time
A soon-to-be-released study suggests a surprising number of car seats don’t fit vehicles properly, requiring parents to resort to putting rolled up towels, blankets or pool noodles under the car seats to make them level…MORE

Redesign PPE to reduce contamination risks, researchers suggest
Health care workers frequently contaminate their skin when removing personal protective equipment (PPE), even when they follow proper procedures. Facilities can reduce the risk by assigning trained coaches to monitor every step of the removal process, disinfecting PPE before removal, and redesigning PPE to make it easier to remove while minimizing self-contamination…MORE

Where There’s Fire, There’s Smoke

FireSitting in Texas Mutual’s corporate office in Austin, Texas, this week’s wildfire in Bastrop seems like a world away. But the black smoke that consumed our skyline Wednesday evening had a way of bridging the 30 miles between the two cities.

Wildfire smoke is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials. It can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system and worsen certain medical conditions. Wildfire smoke is especially dangerous to some people, including children, older adults and people who have heart disease, lung disease or asthma.

Firefighters are working hard to contain the Bastrop blaze. Until they do, everyone should practice a few simple smoke-inhalation prevention tips, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Check local air quality reports
Listen and watch for news or health warnings about smoke. Monitor the air quality index, and pay attention to public announcements about safety measures.

Consult local visibility guides
Some communities have monitors that measure the amount of particles in the air. In the western part of the United States, some states and communities provide guidelines to help people determine if there are high levels of particulates in the air by how far they can see.

Keep indoor air as clean as possible

Listen to this three-minute podcast for tips on how to cope with wildfire smoke.

Listen to this three-minute podcast for tips on how to cope with wildfire smoke.

Maintain indoor air quality by keeping windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter in a designated evacuation center or away from the affected area.

Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution
Smoking, as well as burning candles, fireplaces and gas stoves can increase indoor pollution. So too can vacuuming, which stirs up particles already inside your home.

Follow your doctor’s advice
If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your doctor’s advice about your medicines and your respiratory management plan. Consider evacuating the area if you are having trouble breathing, and call for more advice if your symptoms worsen.

Do not rely on dust masks for protection
Paper “comfort” or “dust” masks commonly found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from the small particles found in wildfire smoke. An N95 mask, properly worn, will offer some protection. If you decide to keep a mask on hand, refer to this Respirator Fact Sheet.

Protect your business and your employees
Approximately 40 percent of small businesses never recover after a disaster, according to the American Red Cross. A detailed emergency response plan can help you protect your employees and your business.

More resources
Governor Greg Abbot declared a state of disaster in Bastrop County on Thursday. The fire has consumed more than 4,000 acres, and 400 residents have evacuated.  Firefighters have contained 25 percent of the blaze, but warm temperatures and dry conditions put not only Texas but much of the nation at ongoing risk. Texas Mutual encourages you to visit these websites to learn how to protect yourself during wildfires and other emergencies:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Texas Department of State Health Services

Federal Emergency Management Administration

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Ronnie’s Story

Imagine you’re a veteran electrician with more than 20 years on the job. One day, you get up at your usual time and take your usual route to work. On the way to the job site, you rehash the weekend with a co-worker over coffee, just as you’ve done countless times before.

And then your day takes a drastic, unexpected turn.

While doing work for a local utility, you suffer a severe electrical shock. You remember being loaded onto the life flight helicopter, but nothing else until you wake up from your coma. You spend 45 days in the hospital. From there, you head straight to the rehab facility, where you start the grueling process of learning to use your new prosthetic arms.

I wish this were a fictional story conjured up to demonstrate the importance of today’s blog post. Unfortunately, Ronnie’s Story is a real scenario that played out on one of our policyholder’s job sites. Far too often, this story ends when the worker gets injured and has to miss time. The employer replaces them, and they never return to the job.

But the injury was just the first of many compelling chapters in Ronnie’s story. He returned to work 18 months after this catastrophic accident. It was a long, painful road, but he’s back on the team. He can’t do all the tasks he used to do. But he contributes by training new employees and doing other alternative, productive work.

Ronnie didn’t have time to say this in our short video, but his employer played a crucial role in helping him get back on the job. They recognized his value to the team, and they identified modified duties that comply with his restrictions.

Return-to-Work by the Numbers
50% – Injured workers who off work longer than six months have only a 50 percent chance of returning to their job.

90% – If injured workers are off the job longer than 1 year, there is a 90 percent chance they will never return to productive employment.

1.5X – Replacing an injured worker can cost 1.5 times their annual salary.

13 – It can take a new worker more than 13 months to become efficient at their job.

4X – Indirect claim costs, such as making up for lost production, can be up to four times higher than direct costs. Indirect costs come out of the employer’s pocket. OSHA’s safety pays tool helps employers calculate the true costs of an injury.

Did you know?
The Division of Workers’ Compensation reimburses qualifying employers for money they spend to bring injured workers back to the team. For more information, click here.

Return-to-work programs thrive when employers, injured workers, doctors and insurance carriers believe in the process and embrace their roles. It’s a formula for success that pays off for you and your employees.

Workers’ compensation benefits cover only a portion of the injured worker’s lost income. The financial stress associated with being off work can affect the employee’s emotional health. The longer they are off work, the less likely they are to return to productive employment.

Employers, meanwhile, have to make up for lost production. That can mean hiring extra help or paying overtime to current employees. Ultimately, replacing an injured worker can cost 1.5 times their annual salary.

So how do and your injured employees reap the benefits of a return-to-work program? Perhaps this quote from Ronnie will provide guidance.

“I’m not the type of person who’s going to sit home feeling sorry for myself,” said Ronnie. “I was going to be doing something. My company asked me to come back to work, and they found a position for me. It felt good to go back and be with the guys.”

It’s only three sentences, but each one speaks volumes.

First, Ronnie didn’t fall victim to the disability mindset: “I’m injured, and I cannot work.” He knew he could contribute, and he wanted to come back as soon as medically reasonable.

Secondly, Ronnie’s employer shared his desire. They knew he was more valuable when he was at work, contributing to productivity.

And lastly, work is therapeutic. Ronnie felt good being back at work with his friends and peers.

That’s how we want every return-to-work story to end. You can help make that happen.

Everyone wins with return-to-work
We encourage you to review our short webinar: “Everyone Wins with Return-to-Work.” Our safety and claim professionals explain the benefits of helping injured workers get quality medical care and return to the job. Then, they show you how to reap those benefits in five simple steps. We also invite you to take advantage of the free return-to-work materials on our website.

Regulatory Roundup

Regulatory Roundup is Texas Mutual’s weekly compilation of occupational safety and health news from around the world.

Texas Mutual News

Driving safety home
This week, the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety shared free educational material as part Drive Safely Work Week. Our blog featured tips for overcoming the unique challenges aging drivers face…MORE

Division of Worker’s Compensation (DWC)

DWC newsletter offers workplace violence prevention tips

Police line-victim

Police line-victim

Last month’s deadly incident during a live television newscast underscores the importance of workplace violence prevention. The October issue of the DWC’s Safety and Health Update offers tips, as well as OSHA updates and tips for selling return-to-work…MORE

Texas sees uptick in fatal occupational injuries
Workplace fatalities increased 3 percent in 2014. Transportation incidents again topped the list, accounting for 45 percent of fatalities…MORE

DWC safety summit to include OSHA compliance guidance
The DWC will host the safety summit on October 20 in Amarillo between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. For a $50 entry fee, attendees will get guidance on complying with OSHA requirements, developing an emergency action plan and creating an accident prevention plan…MORE

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

MSHA issues seasonal safety alert during deadliest month for miners
confinedspace_sewerShutdown activities make October the deadliest month for miners. The MSHA issued a safety alert that provides best practices for disassembling conveyors, transporting and storing sections, and accessing floating pump decks…MORE


Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA extends enforcement delay on confined spaces standard for residential construction
OSHA will delay full enforcement for residential construction until Jan. 8. Full enforcement of the standard for non-residential construction employers is in effect…MORE

OSHA moves closer to finalizing electronic recordkeeping rule
legislationThis week, OSHA submitted the rule to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Submission to OIRA is a sign that the rule is in its final stages. The rule would require certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness recordkeeping information to OSHA. The rule also provides for a searchable website where OSHA would make employers’ injury and illness records available to the public…MORE

OIG recommends improvements for OSHA whistleblower protections
The Office of the Inspector General recommends that OSHA develop and implement a process to ensure a good working relationship with other agencies, develop training curriculum for investigators, issue an updated Whistleblower Investigations Manual and ensure the manual is regularly updated…MORE

OIG may review OSHA’s rulemaking process, citation evidence
The audits are discretionary, which means the office of inspector general (OIG) will evaluate their necessity after completing mandatory audits. The OIG is currently auditing OSHA’s emphasis programs and voluntary protection programs….MORE

Michaels defends OSHA guidance documents, warns against budget cuts
Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, fended off accusations that OSHA reduced the number of retail establishments exempt from the Process Safety Management Standard without stakeholder support during a House subcommittee meeting…MORE

National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA)

NFPA introduces free fire-safety app, redesigned website, new videos for Fire Prevention Week
The app, which targets third-fifth graders, allows students to test their knowledge about fire safety. NFPA also redesigned to allow teachers to search content by grade levels…MORE


Federal Drug Administration (FDA)

FDA warns of compounding pharmacy’s products
The FDA issued a warning to alert health care professionals and patients not to use drug products intended to be sterile made and distributed by Chen Shwezin Inc., doing business as Park Compounding Pharmacy, in Westlake Village, Calif. The FDA reported it is not aware of any adverse event associated with the use of products from Park Compounding Pharmacy…MORE

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

FMCSA wraps up data collection on hours-of-service restart rule
Truck on freewayCongress temporarily suspended the rule in December 2014 and ordered the FMCSA to conduct the study. The agency collected data on more than 3,000 driver duty cycles, more than 75,000 driver alertness tests and more than 22,000 days of driver sleep data. It hopes to issue a final report by the end of the year…MORE

Studies, Resources, Trends, News

Would OSHA “punt” on inspecting an NFL team?
OSHA would likely classify NFL players as independent contractors, over which it has no jurisdiction. So, the likelihood of a workplace safety inspection occurring on a Sunday afternoon appears minimal…MORE

AIHA signs pact with Society for Chemical Hazard Communication
The pact commits all parties to developing and maintaining the safety data sheets registry program for chemical hazard communication…MORE

Drivers confused by new auto safety technology
Driver assist safety technology is becoming standard in vehicles. Typically not part of the package, however, is education on how to use that technology. The National Safety Council and Department of Transportation are kicking off a campaign to help drivers get the most out of their vehicles’ safety bells and whistles. The campaign includes a website,…MORE 

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