Regulatory Roundup, April 29, 2016

Regulatory Roundup is a weekly compilation of employee wellness and safety news.

Texas Mutual News

New Texas Mutual app empowers workers to navigate deadly hazards virtually
SafetyInABox
Call it taking your lumps or learning the hard way. In the workplace safety world, we call it an accident investigation, and the goal is to figure out why someone got injured, and then take steps to keep it from happening again. But what if you could learn valuable lessons by making virtual mistakes, without putting yourself in harm’s way? A new app designed by Texas Mutual empowers workers to do just that…MORE

Texas Mutual awards $600K in annual safety education grants to six Texas colleges
Texas Mutual Insurance Company has awarded a combined $600,000 in grants to College of the Mainland in Texas City, Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, El Paso Community College, Kilgore College, Midland College and Amarillo College. The grants fund workplace safety courses for employers, workers and the general public through the colleges’ risk management institutes…MORE

I2P2 may be on the backburner, but it’s still a sound investment
Texas Mutual encourages every employer to create and enforce a written injury and illness prevention program (I2P2) powered by these core elements…MORE

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Which jobs are hardest on your hearing?
earplugsHearing loss is the most common work-related injury, affecting 22 million Americans each year and costing businesses $242 million in workers’ compensation benefits. Hearing loss can affect any industry where excessive noise is an issue, but people who make their living on construction sites and in the oil patch are at the highest risk, according to a CDC study. Employers can protect workers by combining preventive measures with consistent audiometric screenings…MORE

CDC, OSHA issue guidance for protecting workers from Zika exposure
Zika virus is primarily spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Workers can also contract Zika through contact with an infected person’s blood and other bodily fluid. The CDC recommends employers follow these tips to protect outdoor workers, health care providers, laboratory workers and business travelers…MORE

Department of Transportation (DOT)

CMV 34-hour restart provision could be back on the table
Semi TruckThe currently-suspended 34-hour restart provision that includes overnight rest breaks for commercial drivers could once again be included in hours-of-service rules, contingent on the results of a DOT study. The DOT is analyzing whether the provision promotes safety or creates inadvertent hazards during peak travel times. If restored, the provision will prohibit CMV drivers from being on duty more than 73 hours in a seven-day period…MORE

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

EPA agrees to revise hazardous substance regs
The Clean Water Act requires the EPA to issue regulations to prevent and contain discharges of oil and hazardous substances. According to a new lawsuit, the EPA has only satisfied half of Congress’ mandate. The EPA has committed to issuing a proposed rule for hazardous substance regulation by August 2017. A final rule must be published no later than October 2018…MORE

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

Alarming jump in pedestrian fatalities prompts NTSB forum
Concern over a five-year, 19-percent increase in pedestrian fatalities promoted the NTSB to spearhead a pedestrian safety forum that will take place on May 10, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Between 2014 and 2015, the number of pedestrians killed in accidents increased 10 percent, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association…MORE

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Don’t text and drive, or the NHTSA will troll you on Twitter
distracted-driver-1When a Twitter user who goes by the handle @NArnold98 posted this tweet, “Texting and driving is pretty efficient,” he probably anticipated the obligatory LOLs and thumbs up from his followers. What he likely didn’t expect was this direct response from the NHTSA: “If by efficient you mean super dangerous and dumb, then yeah, it’s pretty efficient, @Narnold98. Please stay off the phone & #justdrive.” During National Distracted Driving Awareness month, the NHTSA has been trolling Twitter users who don’t seem to grasp the serious consequences of distracted driving…MORE

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Manufacturing industry leads field in reportable injuries
In the first year under OSHA’s revised injury reporting and recordkeeping rule, the manufacturing industry reported 26 percent of hospitalizations and 57 percent of amputations, more than any other industry. The construction industry was second, reporting 19 percent of hospitalizations and 10 percent of amputations…MORE

Studies, Resources, Trends, News

New report shows staggering costs of vehicle accidents for employers
Investigating a car wreckMotor vehicle crash injuries cost employers $47.4 billion in 2013, according to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety. Property damage, workplace disruption and liability costs accounted for $20.6 billion. The remaining costs went toward benefit payments, including sick leave, health insurance and insurance covering work losses…MORE

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I2P2 may be on the backburner, but it’s still a sound investment

When it comes to safety, what gets documented gets done. That’s why Texas Mutual encourages every employer to create and enforce a written injury and illness prevention program (I2P2).

Dr. David Michaels was determined to make I2P2 mandatory for employers during his tenure as head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Somewhere along the way, the initiative slipped down OSHA’s regulatory agenda. Texas employers may never be required by OSHA to maintain an I2P2, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.

A written safety program provides a road map for sending employees home injury-free. It identifies the hazards employees are exposed to, explains how the company will protect employees from those hazards, and assigns accountability within the program.

If you want to make I2P2 part of your safety efforts – and we hope you do – make sure you address these core elements.

Core element: Management commitment/employee engagement
Management has to show employees it is committed to preventing workplace accidents. And we’re not just talking about monetary investments in safety training and personal protective equipment. The most important thing you can do is follow the same safety rules you expect employees to follow.

Safety starts at the top, but it doesn’t end there. Employees have to be engaged in the process. Management should involve employees from all levels of the organization in creating and continuously improving the safety program.

Core element: Hazard identification/assessment
Every task exposes employees to unique hazards. You can uncover those hazards by conducting job hazard analyses, inspecting your facility, investigating accidents and near-misses and reviewing your incident history for trends.

Core element: Hazard prevention and control
hierarchycontrols
Once you’ve identified the hazards in your workplace, you must control your employees’ exposure to those hazards. Let the hierarchy of controls guide you. The hierarchy is a system for ranking hazard control measures according to their effectiveness.

Core element: Employee safety training
OSHA requires employers to train employees in a language and vocabulary they understand. Training should cover two primary topics: the I2P2 and the specific hazards employees will encounter. As part of our commitment to preventing workplace accidents, Texas Mutual offers free safety training resources on our
Work Safe, Texas website. Any employer can visit the site and download the material.

Core element: Continuously evaluate and improve your safety program
How much has your company changed during the past two years? Have you introduced new processes, bought new equipment or hired new people? The point is that you should continuously evaluate your safety program to make sure it to meets your changing needs.

Texas Mutual recommends employers review their safety program within the first 12 months and at least once every two years after that. You should use a combination of leading and lagging indicators to get a true picture of your program’s effectiveness.

Get free resources
For more information on launching an I2P2, watch our free webinar, “The Core Elements of a Safety Program.” And remember that although I2P2 is not a regulatory requirement, certain written safety programs are.

For example, if your employees are exposed to excessive noise, OSHA requires you to have a
hearing conservation program. If you use hazardous chemicals, including common cleaning products, you must have a hazard communication program. The Texas Department of Insurance and OSHA offer sample programs you can download and customize to meet your needs.

Regulatory Roundup, April 22, 2016

Regulatory Roundup is a weekly digest of employee wellness and safety news from around the world.

Texas Mutual News

Texas Mutual urges roofers to work safely in wake of Wylie hail storm

OSHA will promote the importance of preventing falls during its annual Stand Down for Safety campaign, May 2-6.

OSHA will promote the importance of preventing falls during its annual Stand Down for Safety campaign, May 2-6.

A hail storm recently pummeled cars, shattered windows, toppled trees and punched holes in roofs and skylights in Wylie, a suburb of Dallas. One resident found pieces of his roof in a nearby shopping center. In the wake of the storm, Texas Mutual urged professional roofers and do-it-yourselfers to follow fall protection best practices…MORE

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Worker fatalities reached 7-year high in 2014: BLS report
Things are looking up in the world of workplace fatalities, and that’s not a good thing. In 2014, 4,821 people died in work-related accidents, the most since 2008, according to revised BLS data. The new data also shows 144 oil and gas workers died on the job, a record-high
for the industry…MORE

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSSE)

BSSE issues offshore oil and gas drilling rules
The BSSE’s goal is to prevent the type of equipment failures that caused the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. The explosion killed 11 workers and spilled a record amount of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The new rules tighten controls on blowout preventers, add tougher requirements to undersea well design, and require real-time monitoring of subsea drilling and spill containment…MORE

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

MSHA cautions employers about stockpile hazards
safety alert
The safety pros at MSHA know you can learn as much from a near-miss as from an actual accident. In 2015, there were seven incidents in which a dozer fell into a “hidden cavity” under a bridge of material when material under the bridge was taken away. None of the incidents caused injuries, but they could have, according to an MSHA safety alert…MORE

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA shipbreaking safety initiative targets non-English speaking workers
OSHA recently instructed its inspectors to verify employers in the shipbreaking industry deliver safety training to non-English speaking workers in a language they understand. The directive is part of OSHA’s renewed National Emphasis Program (NEP). OSHA designed the NEP to reduce workplace hazards in the shipbreaking industry…MORE

Foundry industry joins chorus of voices against new silica rule
Law Book
Dust levels fluctuate so much in foundry operations that employers would have to achieve levels typical of clean room operations to comply with OSHA’s new silica law. That was the message one stakeholder delivered to Congress this week. Within 10 days of OSHA releasing its new silica rule, stakeholders filed seven petitions for review. The construction industry has represented the rule’s most vocal opponent, labelling its requirements financially impractical at best and impossible to comply with at worst…MORE

Employers must record intoxicated employee injuries: OSHA
If an employee is injured while under the influence of alcohol, the employer must record the injury under OSHA’s recordkeeping rule. OSHA grants an exemption to the rule if self-medication for a non-work-related condition causes the injury. Alcohol use does not qualify under the exemption…MORE

Studies, Resources, Trends, News

Is saving 5 minutes worth your life?
2 secondsMotorists can drive up to 85 miles in some states, including Texas. All that freedom comes with a price. A new study found that a 5 mph increase in state speed limits accompanied an 8 percent increase in fatality rates on interstates and freeways…MORE

There’s nothing artificial about technology’s impact on safety
In 1997, a computer made history by beating the world chess champion at his own game. At the time, artificial intelligence (AI) was a neat party trick with limited real-world application. But with the first fully-autonomous vehicles set to hit the streets by 2019, it’s clear that AI is changing all aspects of our lives, including workplace safety. In the near future, computer-powered robots will be recognizing risk, interpreting near-misses and finding safer ways to work, all in a fraction of the time it takes humans…MORE

Seat belts should never have time off
2seconds2click-logo
Effective workplace initiatives deliver benefits to employers and employees. Take seat belt policies, for example. Drivers and passengers who take two seconds to buckle up reduce their chances of dying in a crash by 50 percent. Meanwhile, crashes involving failure to wear seat belts cost employers $5 billion a year in lost productivity and other crash-related expenses. A new educational campaign helps employers make seat belt use part of their safety culture…MORE

History of falls in older drivers increases crash risk by 40%
How’s this for a catch-22? The more often senior citizens suffer falls, the less likely they are to engage in exercise and other physical activity that could cause future falls. Conversely, physical activity is one way to keep driving skills sharp and reduce the risk of crashes. A new study shows a history of falls in older drivers increases their crash risk by 40 percent…MORE

Texas Mutual urges roofers to prevent falls in wake of hail storm

The odds of a hail storm happening the same day you bring your new car home are relatively slim. The odds of a softball-size piece of that hail busting through your attic, into your garage and onto your shiny new hood are probably even slimmer.

That’s exactly what happened to a resident of Wylie, a suburb of Dallas, last week.

A large hail storm hammered the area, pummeling cars, shattering windows, toppling trees and punching holes in roofs and skylights. In fact, one resident found pieces of his roof in a nearby shopping center. He estimates the damage at $100,000.

Whether you’re a seasoned construction worker or a do-it-yourselfer looking to save a few bucks, holes in roofs and skylights present safety hazards. You can protect yourself by following these tips.

Cover up
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines a hole as a gap or void two inches or more in its least dimension. OSHA requires you to protect holes with guardrails or covers that cannot be moved.

For covers, use at least ¾ inch plywood, and avoid fiberboard and cardboard. The goal is to construct a cover that will support two times the anticipated load. That includes the combined weight of people, equipment and materials.

To promote awareness, label your hole covers: “HOLE.”

Don’t test skylights’ limits
Skylights are an ongoing source of catastrophic injuries and deaths among Texas Mutual policyholders. Remember that skylights have limits. If you test those limits, the consequences can be fatal.

This video tells the story of a supervisor who fell 30 feet to his death through an unguarded skylight.

Never sit on, lean against or step on a skylight or any covering placed over a hole in a roof or floor. They are not designed to support your weight.

Furthermore, exposure to the elements can make skylights brittle and weak. That’s especially true in Texas, where ultraviolet rays beat down on skylights all summer.

Use the big 3
OSHA’s fall protection standards require construction workers to use fall protection when working from heights of six feet or more. OSHA’s general industry fall protection standard is four feet.

Fall protection comes in many shapes and sizes, but the “big 3” are guardrail systems, safety nets and personal fall arrest systems (PFAS). You should use at least one of the big 3 when fall protection is required.

Generally, guardrail systems are your safest choice. That’s because guardrails prevent falls, and safety nets and PFAS’ limit how far you fall.

A word about personal fall arrest systems
You can’t always cover or guard a floor or roof opening. For example, maybe you’re installing a skylight or ventilation unit. In that case, you must use a PFAS that includes a full-body harness, lanyard, connectors and appropriate anchorage points (tie-offs). Make sure you only tie off to anchorage points your employer has identified as safe.

You should also inspect your PFAS every time you use it. If you see cracks, breaks, sharp edges or other damage, immediately report it to your supervisor.

Employers: Stand down for safety
OSHA will host its annual Stand Down for Safety event May 2 – 6. The national observance is an opportunity for employers and employees to pause during their busy day and discuss the importance of fall prevention.

Texas Mutual encourages you to visit the campaign website and take advantage of the free training resources. You can access other free materials on OSHA’s Safety Pays. Falls Cost. website, as well as on the Stop Construction Falls website hosted by the Center for Construction Research and Training.

 

Regulatory Roundup, April 15, 2016

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

Texas Mutual News

Lonnie’s story
Lonnie Williams knew there would be a learning curve when he landed a job as a tanker truck driver in the Texas oil fields. But he never imagined he would nearly die during his first day. Visit our blog for Lonnie’s return-to-work success story…MORE

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Musculoskeletal disorders account for high number of DART injuries, according to new
Backinjury2
That annoying crick in your neck may seem like a minor inconvenience, but it could signal a serious musculoskeletal disorder (MSD). MSDs account for one-third to one-half of injuries resulting in days away from work, job restriction or transfer in six major industries, according to a BLS report…MORE

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

EPA regulates new uses of TCE
A new EPA rule requires anyone who wants to use trichloroethylene (TCE) as part of a new consumer product to notify the EPA at least 90 days in advance. TCE is largely used in manufacturing refrigerant chemicals and as a solvent in degreasing metals. TCE exposure can induce neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity, developmental toxicity, liver toxicity, kidney toxicity, endocrine effects and cancer…MORE

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

CDC confirms Zika can cause birth defects
Following months of debate, the CDC said this week there is enough evidence to link Zika virus to unusually small heads and brain damage in infants born to infected mothers…MORE

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

FHWA encourages Americans to drive, work safely in work zones
workzone-awareness-eng
On average, three fatalities each day happen in highway work zones. To raise awareness of the issue, the FHWA encouraged motorists and workers to observe Work Zone Awareness Week from April 11 to 15…MORE

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Congress urges OSHA to pursue a workplace violence prevention rule for health care
Stopping Domestic Violence
Congress is calling on OSHA to issue a standard that would require health care employers to institute a workplace violence prevention program. In 2013, as many as 226,000 health care workers were assaulted at least once. That equates to a rate of about 126.5 assaults per 10,000 workers, while the rate for workers in all industries was 38.9…MORE

Non-reporting penalty set to increase 400 percent
OSHA believes 50 percent of severe injuries are going unreported under its revised injury and illness reporting rule. Starting this summer, noncompliant employers will pay up to a $70,000 fine for violating the rule. That’s a 400 percent increase over the current maximum fine of $7,000…MORE 

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)

PHMSA launches online resource to help emergency responders with rail incidents
The resource includes a training video and other items focusing on the best ways to respond to rail incidents involving Hazard Class 3 Flammable Liquids…MORE

Studies, Resources, Trends, News

Run. Hide. Fight. – Your formula for surviving an active shooter situation
When a gunman opens fire on a unsuspecting crowd, panic is a natural, immediate response. If you find yourself in an active shooter situation, credible organizations such as the FBI recommend you keep your cool and follow this three-step approach…MORE

Do alternative workstations work?
Plopping down in a plush office chair all day may be more appealing than doing physically demanding work in the summer heat. Research shows, however, that sedentary jobs contribute to chronic diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and premature deaths. Alternative workstations can help, but each option presents drawbacks. The solution to countering the negative effects of a life spent sitting is simple: Get moving…MORE

Exercise these preventive measures to avoid gym germs
Treadmill
Gyms offer convenient, versatile, climate-controlled venues for getting fit. They also harbor millions of germs that can cause serious illness. Before you flush you plans to join a gym, consider these simple preventive measures…MORE

‘Invisible impairments’ hinder stroke patients who return to work: study
Stroke patients who return to work suffer from fatigue, communication challenges, and memory and concentration problems. Employers can help by reducing stroke patients’ hours, allowing them to work remotely and easing them back into the job…MORE

Lonnie’s story

By David Wylie

By David Wylie

Lonnie Williams knew he’d face a learning curve when he landed a job as a truck driver in Texas’ oil and gas industry. Still, he never imagined he would nearly die on his first day at work.

Lonnie and a co-worker were hauling salt water, a key ingredient in the hydraulic fracturing process, when they rolled their truck on a curve. Lonnie’s co-worker was ejected, but Lonnie was trapped inside.

“I thought I was going to die,” said Lonnie. “I kept thinking, ‘I’ll never see my son again.”’

Lonnie suffered a severe spinal cord injury that left him unable to move his hands and legs. Doctors told his mother he’d never walk again.

What the doctors didn’t anticipate was a healthy dose of optimism that would carry Lonnie through a grueling recovery process. With support from his family, his employer and Texas Mutual, Lonnie relearned everyday tasks like eating and tying his shoes.

And ultimately, Lonnie would walk again.

Today, Lonnie’s back in the workforce sharing his zeal for life with young people as a high school teacher. His story is a case study in the benefits of a return-to-work program.

Employers who invest in return-to-work can minimize lost productivity and other costs associated with workplace accidents. Meanwhile, injured workers who get back to productive employment maintain their financial health. They also avoid the stress, depression and other symptoms of being isolated from peers.

Texas Mutual encourages you to watch this short video about Lonnie’s story. When you’re ready to reap the benefits of return-to-work, visit our Work Safe, Texas website.

Regulatory Roundup, April 8, 2016

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

Texas Mutual News

Work Safe, Texas is open for business in April
Work SafeApril enhancements to our worksafetexas.com website include six things you need to know about OSHA, information about OSHA’s new confined space rule and an article on the importance of allowing workers to acclimatize to hot weather…MORE

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

2015 was safest year in mining history
In 2015, 28 miners died, down from 45 in 2014, and the industry recorded a fatal injury rate of 0.0096. MSHA credits mine site compliance improvements, a reduction in chronic violators, and record low levels of respirable coal dust and silica for contributing to historically low fatalities…MORE

National Safety Council (NSC)

Opioids being prescribed for too long
Narcotics with Prescription Warning LabelNinety-nine percent of doctors prescribe opioid pain medication for longer than the three-day timetable recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a new NSC survey. Opioids can impair workers, so the NSC recommends employers prohibit employees from taking them on the job, especially if they work in safety-sensitive positions…MORE

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Take advantage of OSHA’s regulatory guidance material
Did you hear OSHA released a new silica rule in March? Were you aware that OSHA requires employers to provide clean, accessible restrooms for workers? You can access all of OSHA’s recent guidance material from this handy list…MORE

Do employers have to relabel old chemical containers?
PrintChemical manufacturers and distributors, as well as employers who use chemicals, must comply with all components of OSHA’s revised hazard communication standard by June 1, 2016. On that date, employers might still have chemicals with labels that are not in compliance with the revised standard. Employers are not required to relabel those chemicals. They should, however, explain to employees that they might see different labels on chemicals and ensure employees handle all chemicals safely…MORE

Construction industry challenges OSHA’s silica rule
OSHA’s new silica rule will cost the construction industry $5 billion per year to implement, much more than OSHA’s $500 million estimate. Besides being cost-prohibitive, the rule’s medical evaluation component may expose workers to discriminatory hiring practices, according to construction industry experts. This week, eight major construction industry groups filed a legal challenge to OSHA’s new silica rule…MORE

OSHA joins forces with the Shipbuilding Group to protect workers
Under the two-year alliance, OSHA and the Shipbuilding Group will focus on protecting shipyard workers from electrical, ergonomic, struck-by and slip, trip and fall hazards…MORE

Studies, Resources, Trends, News

Insurance Council of Texas focuses on causes of distracted driving
distracted-driver-1“Driving a two-ton vehicle at any speed is not the time to take your eyes off the road,” said Mark Hanna of the Insurance Council of Texas (ICT). Punctuating Hanna’s point, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that in 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers across the U.S. In recognition of distracted driving awareness month, Hanna and the ICT offered tips to avoid becoming a statistic in the epidemic…MORE

4 steps to complying with OSHA’s first aid requirement
OSHA requires employers to provide first aid training that addresses the unique hazards their employees face. Employers can follow a four step-process to create a first aid program or streamline an existing program: information, preparation, assessment, response…MORE

Farm workers, hairdressers among professions linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Solvents used in certain industries, along with exposure to mold, wood dust and formaldehyde, increase workers’ risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma, according to a recent study…MORE

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