Regulatory Roundup, November 23, 2015

Regulatory Roundup is Texas Mutual’s weekly digest of occupational health and safety news.

Texas Mutual News

Employees don’t always check substance abuse at the door
About 70 percent of the estimated 14.8 million Americans who use illegal drugs are employed, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc. This week’s blog post offered tips for employers who understand that substance abuse has no place in the workplace…MORE

Texas Mutual partners with Valley radio to promote temp worker safety
As part of our relationship with KURV, The Valley’s News/ Talk station, we post a series of safety messages on the station’s Facebook page. This week’s message: If you hire temporary employees, remember they have the same right to a safe workplace as your permanent employees. For more safety tips, visit

Federal Legislation

House Democrats introduce bill on immigrant worker safety
The bill would protect immigrant workers who report unsafe working conditions from deportation…MORE

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Despite decrease in lost-worktime rate, injury severity may be on the rise
In 2014, Americans missed fewer work days because of injuries than they missed in 2013. But those who did miss work were out longer, according to a BLS report…MORE

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

Truck driver’s synthetic drug use led to fatal accident
A Texas truck driver who crashed into a bus and killed four people was likely under the influence of a synthetic drug, according to an NTSB report. Federal regulations require testing for only a few impairing substances…MORE

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

QuickTakes features new resources for agriculture, maritime workers
The resources focus on tractor hazards and hazards associated with repairing refrigeration systems…MORE

OSHA clarifies rules on injuries sustained during business travel
Injuries and illnesses that occur to an employee while on travel status are work-related if, at the time of the injury or illness, the employee was engaged in work activities “in the interest of the employer, according to OSHA. Injuries or illnesses are not considered work-related if they occur while the employee is on a personal detour from a reasonably direct route of travel…MORE

OSHA publishes first update of OSH program management guidelines in 26 years
The new guidelines build on the previous version, as well as lessons learned from successful approaches and best practices under OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program and Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program…MORE

Accident investigations in Indiana take far too long: OSHA report
The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration takes an average of 72 days to investigate accidents, according to an OSHA review. The national standard is five days…MORE

Studies, news, resources

Advancements in video tech increasing safety in oil, gas
Video technology advancements reduce risk by allowing staff to control field environments from safe, centralized locations.…MORE

Safety and health curriculum coming to U.S. classrooms
The one-hour, interactive teaching module covers hazard recognition and control, emergencies and other workplace safety basics…MORE

CDC offers solutions to the top 5 challenges facing businesses
Workplace injuries, chronic conditions, work-related stress, and an increase in temporary and older workers are the top five challenges facing businesses. This user-friendly CDC infographic provides practical solutions to each challenge…MORE

Stretching, resistance training programs could limit MSDs
Researchers from the Institute for Work & Health found “strong evidence” that resistance training aids neck, shoulder, arm, elbow, wrist and hand health. They also found “moderate evidence” that stretching programs, workstation forearm supports and computer mouse vibration feedback prevents and manages upper-extremity MSDs…MORE

Wearable chemical monitor could make big impact on safety
Similar to a Fitbit, the silicone band is designed to be worn by a single user for anywhere from 24 hours to a month. When the desired monitoring period is up, the user mails the band to the manufacturer, which analyzes it and sends the user a list of all chemicals they have been exposed to, and at what levels…MORE

Employees Don’t Always Check Substance Abuse at the Door

Pills White Background

Drug abuse costs employers $81B a year, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence

It seems sub-zero temperatures aren’t the only extreme thing about Antarctica. Scientists working on the U.S. Antarctic program are taking drinking on the job to new lows.

A health and safety audit of the program found that alcohol consumption has snowballed. The result has been unpredictable behavior, fights, indecent exposure and employees arriving to work under the influence.

It’s not as if the powers that be aren’t trying to police the situation. Alcohol consumption is banned in work areas and during work hours.

Still one human resources manager interviewed for the report said about 75 percent of disciplinary actions taken by her company were related to alcohol use.

That didn’t stop one especially bold researcher from brewing his own beer in a work area.

Granted, this is an extreme case of on-the-job substance abuse. But alcohol, illegal drugs and even prescription drugs don’t discriminate by industry or geography. In fact, there’s a good chance they’ve already found their way onto your jobsite.

Trucker in Fatal Oklahoma Crash Had History of Synthetic Drug Use

In 2014, a Texas truck driver crashed into a bus and killed four members of a women’s college softball team.

The investigation turned up evidence of synthetic marijuana in his cab.

Synthetic drugs are plant-based drugs, such as marijuana or cocaine, that are mixed with an over-the-counter substance. The result is a new, often more powerful, drug that can have unpredictable effects on human behavior.

Synthetic drugs can also escape detection in traditional drug tests.

A White House Office of National Drug Control Policy pilot study found that 39 percent of people in the Washington, D.C. parole and probation system tested positive for synthetic marijuana even though they passed a traditional drug screen.

The message is that if you conduct pre-hire, random, post-accident and/or pre-hire drug tests, ask your vendor whether they cover synthetic drugs.

Before you launch a drug-testing policy, consult an attorney to make sure you comply with all applicable laws.

About 70 percent of the estimated 14.8 million Americans who use illegal drugs are employed, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc. (NCADD)

So what? If an employee has a substance abuse problem, that’s their issue, right?

Not necessarily.

Employees don’t check their substance abuse issues at the door when they report to work. Even if they aren’t using on the job, a long night of partying can affect their ability to do their job safely and productively.

The fallout from substance abuse includes missed work days, lack of alertness, employee turnover and an increased risk of on-the-job accidents.

About 20 percent of workers and managers across a range of industries and company sizes report that a co-worker’s on- or off-the-job drinking jeopardized their own productivity and safety, according to the NCADD.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recommends a seven-step process for keeping substance abuse out of your workplace. Here is an overview of the steps. For more detail, click here.

Assess your workplace
Consider your workplace’s unique needs when creating your drug-free workplace program. Your goal in this step is to understand the nature of your workforce, the major problems and stressors affecting your employees, and the ways in which substance misuse may be causing or contributing to those problems.

Develop a policy
A written policy is the cornerstone of a drug-free workplace program. Think of your policy as a set of instructions for how you expect your employees to behave. When putting your policy in writing, consider legal requirements, such as drug-free workplace laws and regulations.

Plan, implement a program
Your substance abuse program gives employees the tools they need to comply with the policy you created in the previous step. Employee education, supervisor training, drug testing and employee assistance programs are hallmarks of drug-free workplace programs.

Evaluate the program
Continuous evaluation can help you improve your drug-free workplace program and understand how it has affected your workplace. Put an evaluation process in place before you launch your program. Make sure you establish measurable goals, and then monitor your progress toward those goals.

Provide support
Substance abuse isn’t the only issue that affects employees on the job. Relationship problems, financial difficulties and stress carry over into the work day. Many employers offer support through an employee assistance program (EAP). An EAP provides education, individual assessments, organizational assessments, management consultation, referrals to treatment and short-term counseling.

Additional resources

Regulatory Roundup, November 13, 2015

Regulatory Roundup is Texas Mutual’s weekly digest of health and safety news.

Regulatory Roundup is a weekly compilation of EHS-related news. Please share this information as appropriate. To register to receive Regulatory Roundup, email David Wylie at

Texas Mutual News

Temporary worker safety: A shared responsibility
Temporary workers are at double the risk of suffering a serious injury, according to ProPublica. Staffing agencies and host employers are jointly responsible for their safety…MORE

Department of Transportation (DOT)

Senators oppose nationwide mandate for longer trucks
Fleet Safety
The federal mandate would allow trucks as long as 91 feet to operate in every state. The DOT claims it needs more time to study the mandate’s safety ramifications…MORE

Department of Energy (DOE)

DOE tackles beryllium exposure Effective immediately, the DOE Office of Environment, Health, Safety and Security is clarifying exposure limits for beryllium to synch with similar proposed regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration…MORE

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)

Senators push pipeline safety reform bill
The bill would reauthorize the PHMSA through 2019, direct the agency to prioritize its safety regulatory regime over new rulemaking, and deliver reports on new mapping technology and safety programs for liquid and nature gas pipelines…MORE

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA and the American Red Cross renew alliance
The alliance, now in its tenth year, provides resources on emergency preparedness, disease prevention education, and first aid for workers and volunteers…MORE

OSHA’s final rule may prohibit safety incentive programs
Money with Bow
The rule could prohibit employers from rewarding employees for low accident levels. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is reviewing the rule. OMB review is the final stage in the rulemaking process…MORE

OSHA publishes final rule for handling retaliation complaints from workers in railroad and public transportation industries
The final rule, effective Nov. 9, 2015, establishes procedures and time frames for handling employee retaliation complaints under the National Transit Systems Security Act and the Federal Railroad Safety Act…MORE

Goodbye LOTO — bringing productivity back to safety
lockout tagout_small
OSHA’s lockout/tagout requirements allow alternative measures for minor tool changes and adjustments, as well as minor servicing operations, such as clearing jams…MORE

Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA)

FMCSA webinar to examine large truck crash fatalities involving pedestrians, bicyclists
The free November 18 webinar will feature new research findings, a case-study and community resources. Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities from crashes involving large trucks have increased at roughly the same percentage as pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities from crashes involving all motor vehicles, according to recent FMCSA analysis…MORE

National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

In-vehicle technologies may make oil and gas workers safer
Traffic accidents are the leading cause of fatalities among oil and gas workers. Employers could reduce the risk by installing in-vehicle monitoring systems that track risky behaviors, such as speeding, using mobile devices and failing to buckle up, according to new NIOSH research…MORE

NIOSH-designed technology can reduce workers’ silica exposure at fracking sites
The technology, called a mini-baghouse – controls dust emissions from thief hatches on top of sand movers. NIOSH’s evaluation found that the mini-baghouse reduced airborne respirable crystalline silica by 79-99%…MORE

Studies, news, resources

Free resources help employers comply with confined space standard
The Center for Construction Safety and Research offers a Toolbox Talk, hazard alert and video to help employers comply with OSHA’s revised confined space standard for the construction industry…MORE

American Heart Association updates CPR guidelines
The American Heart Association recently published the 2015 AHA Guidelines Update for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. The updates focus on topics with significant new science or ongoing controversy…MORE

Temporary Worker Safety: A Shared Responsibility

Creating a safe workplace can be challenging. That’s true even when the job and its hazards don’t change much from day to day. Imagine if your employees worked on a construction site one day and an assembly line the next.

Did you know it is not okay to ask temporary workers to pay for required personal protective equipment? Click here for a short podcast to learn more.

Did you know it is not okay to ask temporary workers to pay for required personal protective equipment? Click here for a short podcast to learn more.

That’s a very real scenario that plays out at staffing agencies every day.

Workers employed through staffing agencies are called temporary or supplied workers. Some show up on a job site with decades of experience. Others are “greenhorns” who don’t understand the hazards of the job or how to protect themselves.

Temporary workers are at double the risk of suffering severe injuries, including crushing incidents, lacerations, punctures and fractures, according to ProPublica. And in 2014, nearly 800 contract workers died on the job, a 47 percent increase since 2011.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognized the trend and launched an initiative to protect temporary workers in 2013. OSHA instructed its inspectors to assess whether employers who use temporary workers are complying with their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Inspectors are also evaluating whether temporary workers received necessary safety training.

Temporary workers are at double the risk of getting seriously injured on the job, according to ProPublica research.

As we approach the holiday season, retail businesses are beefing up their workforces with temporary labor. OSHA encourages staffing agencies and host employers to follow these best practices:

  • Staffing agencies and host employers should remember that OSHA’s General Duty Clause guarantees everyone, including temporary workers, the right to a safe workplace.
  • Staffing agencies and host employers share the responsibility for keeping temporary workers safe. Typically, staffing agencies provide general safety training, and host employers provide job-specific training.
  • Staffing agencies and host employers should enter a contract. The contract should specify such things as what tasks temporary workers will do, what training they will receive, and who will provide training and personal protective equipment.
  • Host employers should never ask temporary workers to do any task they have not been trained to do safely.
  • The supervising employer must set up a process for temporary workers to report work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • OSHA requires the employer who provides day-to-day supervision to record temporary worker injuries on their OSHA injury and illness log. Day-to-day supervision should be spelled out in the contract.
  • Staffing agencies and host employers should jointly investigate accidents, determine root causes and implement corrective measures.

More resources

Regulatory Roundup, November 6, 2015

Regulatory Roundup is Texas Mutual’s weekly digest of health and safety news.

Texas Mutual News

Work Safe, Texas is open for business
Ronnie's storyNovember updates to Texas Mutual’s website include a lockout/tagout video, tips for working out fatigue and a return-to-work success story…MORE

Department of Transportation (DOT)

U.S. DOT to add automatic emergency braking to list of recommended advanced safety technologies in 5-Star Rating system
Automatic emergency braking technology includes two systems—crash imminent braking, which applies the brakes in cases where a rear-end crash is imminent and the driver isn’t taking action to avoid the crash, and dynamic brake support, which supplements the driver’s braking input if the driver isn’t applying sufficient braking to avoid a rear-end crash…MORE

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Injury, illness rate among waste industry employees increases
IncreaseThe injury and illness rate among solid waste collection employees jumped 7 percent in 2014. The industry points to distracted driving as one reason it maintains the dubious distinction as one of OSHA’s 10 most dangerous…MORE

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA clarifies “day-to-day supervision” for temporary worker injury and illness recordkeeping
OSHA’s injury and illness recordkeeping regulation requires employers to record the recordable injuries and illnesses of employees they supervise on a day-to-day basis, even if these workers are not carried on the employer’s payroll. For recordkeeping purposes, there cannot be joint day-to-day supervision of temporary workers…MORE

Prepare for an OSHA rapid response investigation
About 46 percent of the injury reports OSHA has received since rolling out the new reporting rule have resulted in “rapid response investigations.” In a rapid response investigation, OSHA instructs the employer to investigate the root cause of the incident, determine how to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future, and report these findings back to OSHA in about a week…MORE

Recent moves suggest OSHA is taking a renewed look at fall risks on cargo tanks
OSHA has “archived” its March 10, 2004, letter that said an employer’s duty to provide fall protection does not include “ladders, vehicles or trailers, on which employees must be located in order to perform their duties” and that the General Duty Clause did not exist “where there is no feasible means of providing it,” including on trailers. The OSHA archive notice means the document no longer represents OSHA policy…MORE

Federal budget includes first increase in OSHA fines in 15 years
MoneytrendOSHA fines could increase almost 80 percent in one jump, and they could increase annually by the rate of inflation after that. If President Obama signs the bill, the increase would take effect no later than Aug. 1, 2016…MORE

Access free OSHA compliance material
Training requirements in OSHA standards, confined spaces in construction and young worker safety were among the topics addressed in compliance material OSHA produced during FY 2015…MORE

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

New standards for cut-protective gloves are coming
Proposed changes to ANSI/ISEA 105 and EN 388 would provide a consistent testing method and ratings that reflect recent advances in cut-resistant yarns and technologies. If approved, the ANSI standard will be official in 2016. The European Union standard will be official in late 2015 or early 2016…MORE

Work Safe, Texas is Open for Business

Have you ever thought you would go to work one day and never return? Probably not. You acknowledge that you face some level of risk on the job, and you accept that risk. But a bump or bruise here and there is about the worst it will get for most of us. The 524 Texans who lost their lives in workplace accidents last year were not as fortunate. That’s nearly 200 more on-the-job fatalities than California, the nation’s second-deadliest state to work in last year.

“No one should have to sacrifice their life for their livelihood, because a nation built on the dignity of work must provide safe working conditions for its people.” – Secretary of Labor
Thomas E. Perez

Granted, Texas’ fatality rate actually dropped from 2.6 to 2.4 cases per 100 workers between 2013 and 2014. That’s well below the national rate of 3.2.

Still, one life lost is too many, as Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez so succinctly put it.

“No one should have to sacrifice their life for their livelihood, because a nation built on the dignity of work must provide safe working conditions for its people.”

Texas Mutual agrees with Secretary Perez. Partnering with you to get your employees safely home to their families every day is the most important service we deliver not just to our policyholders, but to every Texas business. That’s why we launched our Work Safe, Texas website.

The site is a forum for us to share our workplace safety expertise with you and your employees. Each month, we upgrade with fresh content. From downloadable posters to online videos to workplace safety articles, you’ll find resources that address the unique hazards your employees face.

Here are just a few highlights of the November offerings waiting for you at

Ronnie’s story
Ronnie's storyImagine you’re a veteran electrician with more than 20 years on the job. One day, you suffer a severe electrical shock while working for a local utility. 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.

This catastrophic injury changed Ronnie’s life, but it was not his last chapter. This month’s featured post from our award-winning Safety @Work blog tells the rest or Ronnie’s story.

Lockout/tagout: Controlling hazardous energy
LOTO videoIf you make your living in manufacturing, construction, oil and gas or another industrial-type industry, your employees use machines. And machines have moving parts that can hurt people.

Texas Mutual has seen a recent rash of catastrophic injuries involving employees getting pulled into machines while clearing jams or performing maintenance. If your employees use machines, you should have a lockout/tagout policy to control hazardous energy. To help you get started, this month’s offerings include a short online video on lockout/tagout.

7 tips for working out fatigue
7 tipsWe know your time is valuable – and limited. We make easy for you to get the safety information you need and get back to running your business. Each month, you’ll find a quick list of bite-sized safety tips on a specific topic. In November, we share seven tips for working out fatigue through exercise.

Did you know?
Would it surprise you to learn that hearing loss is the most common workplace injury, but it is 100 percent preventable? Or that replacing an injured worker can cost up to 1.5 times their annual salary?

Our “Did You Know” feature is full of interesting facts that might change the way you think about workplace safety.

Of course, if we only presented the issues, we would only be doing half our jobs. Each tidbit includes a link to solutions for overcoming the roadblocks to a safer workplace.

Workplace safety articles
Each flu season, Americans miss nearly 111 million workdays. That translates to approximately $7 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity. This month’s workplace safety articles include tips for protecting your employees and your business from the flu. You’ll also find information on keeping older workers safe, making management accountable for safety and navigating emergencies, which is a timely topic in light of the severe weather Texas has been experiencing.

A brand you can live with
Texas Mutual has built its corporate brand on safety. But Work Safe, Texas isn’t just a catchy tagline. It’s a vision that drives everything we do. As long as Texans are getting injured on the job, our Work Safe website will be open for business.


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