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

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