Regulatory Roundup, May 27, 2016

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

Texas Mutual News

Texas Mutual to distribute $240M in policyholder dividends
Dollar BillsIn late July, Texas Mutual will begin distributing a company-record $240 million in dividends. Approximately 40,000 policyholders will qualify for a dividend based largely on their commitment to preventing workplace accidents. The board unanimously approved the 2016 dividend distribution, the largest in Texas Mutual history, this week…MORE

Department of Transportation (DOT)

DOT bans e-cigarettes from checked luggage because of explosion risk
A new DOT rule permanently prohibits passengers and crew members from carrying e-cigarettes in checked baggage or charging the devices while on an aircraft. The DOT cited recent incidents that show the devices can catch fire during transport…MORE

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

New nutrition labels empower consumers to eat smarter
nutrition labelPeople who make informed food choices reduce their risk of heart disease and obesity. The FDA just made it easier to eat smarter by improving the nutritional information on food labels. The new labels include serving sizes that reflect the amount of food Americans eat…MORE

Federal Legislation

House bill overhauls chemical regulation
The bill sets new exposure standards for asbestos, formaldehyde and other widely-used chemicals that have not seen adjustment to their regulation since the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. The bill also prohibits federal law from over-riding state chemical regulations that were in place on or before April 22, 2016…MORE

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Trucking industry association calls on Congress to retain HOS restart rule
Truck1Because of a missing sentence in the current Omnibus appropriations bill, the hours of service (HOS) restart rule is in jeopardy. If Congress doesn’t move forward with legislation that would retain the rule, CMV carriers and drivers will have to revert to an older, less flexible compliance method referred to as the rolling recap…MORE

Click it or Ticket: Because seat belts save lives
Those fancy safety related bells and whistles on your new car are nice, but they’re no substitute for the oldest form of personal protective equipment: seat belts. From 2010 to 2014, seat belts saved an estimated 63,000 lives. The NHTSA is looking to raise awareness of the importance of seat belts during its annual Click it or Ticket campaign…MORE

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

NIOSH rolls out PPE standards database
NIOSH’s new PPE–Info database is a compendium of federal regulations and consensus standards for personal protective equipment (PPE). The database includes regulations and standards for respiratory and non-respiratory occupational PPE…MORE

Don’t get duped by counterfeit respirators
respiratorIf you want to know if your respirator is NIOSH-approved, look to the label for an approval number and protection information. NIOSH posts counterfeit respirators on its website to alert users, purchasers and manufacturers…MORE

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Need help making sense of OSHA’s new electronic recordkeeping rule?
OSHA recently released a rule requiring some employers to report certain injuries electronically. OSHA will publish some of the data on its website. The American Society of Safety Engineers prepared a brief to help employers understand their obligations under the new rule…MORE

Is 911 your confined space rescue plan?
911If your confined space rescue plan hinges on local emergency services, OSHA requires you to meet the requirements of §1926.1211 — Rescue and emergency services. Rescue personnel should be familiar with the exact site location, types of permit-required confined spaces and necessary rescue equipment…MORE

OSHA Technical Manual now includes chapter on fall protection in construction
The new chapter provides information on fall prevention, fall arrest systems and hazard assessment, as well as detailed images of protection equipment. Falls are deadliest of the construction industry hazards, accounting for 40 percent of fatalities…MORE

Studies, Resources, Trends, News

New employees, increased risk
Employees in their first month on the job have more than 3 times the risk for a lost-time injury than workers who have been at their job for more than a year, according to a new study. Employers can reverse these unsettling statistics by training new employees to recognize and avoid hazards, only assigning tasks new workers have been trained to do, and frequently reinforcing the training with toolbox talks and safety meetings…MORE

Drivers may face deadliest Memorial Day weekend since 2009: NSC
Investigating a car wreckThe National Safety Council (NSC) estimates 439 people may be killed and an additional 50,500 seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes this weekend, making the 2016 Memorial Day holiday the deadliest since 2009, when 462 motorists lost their lives…MORE

Tragedy avoided: Seat belt saves employee’s life
Workers’ compensation insurance companies work hard to promote workplace safety. We hope people take our advice to heart, but we seldom get first-hand confirmation they did. When a driver recently flipped his semi-tractor trailer, the safety experts at Missouri Employers Mutual had to look no further than his seat belt cover to know they made an impact…MORE

Texas Mutual Board Approves $240 Million Policyholder Dividend Distribution

Untitled-1Texas Mutual’s board of directors voted unanimously to approve a company-record $240 million dividend distribution in 2016. Qualifying policyholder owners across Texas will share the dividend, which will be distributed beginning in July.

This is the 18th consecutive year the board has voted to distribute policyholder dividends, bringing the total to over $2 billion. Over $1 billion of that has been paid since 2012.

Texas Mutual is owned by its policyholders, not stockholders, which means the company shares its success by distributing dividends to policyholder owners who have made a commitment to preventing workplace accidents and helping injured workers get back on the job.

“Texas Mutual has a long history of rewarding our policyholder owners for their contributions to our success,” said Bob Barnes, chairman of Texas Mutual’s board. “These dividends reward safe business practices and also help our policyholders’ bottom lines. Our policyholder owners play an important role in Texas’ economy, and we know the difference these dividends can make for them.”

Texas Mutual President and CEO Rich Gergasko said the dividend distribution is about more than just financial success and that it also signifies the commitment the company and its policyholders make to keeping workplaces safe.

“Texas Mutual measures success not just in terms of dollars and cents but also in the number of lives saved and accidents prevented when employers place an emphasis on workplace safety,” Gergasko said. “We’re proud to share our success and reward the safety efforts Texas employers make with this year’s dividend distribution.”

Gergasko noted that while Texas Mutual has awarded dividends each year since 1999, they are based on performance and therefore are not guaranteed. Additionally, dividends must comply with Texas Department of Insurance regulations.

Regulatory Roundup, May 20, 2016

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

Texas Mutual News

3 steps to surviving an active shooter situation
violenceWhen a gunman opens fire in a public place, people panic. And panic gets people killed. If you follow this three-step plan, you can increase your chances of staying calm and surviving…MORE

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

CDC offers states money for Zika preparations
mosquitoStates can now apply for a share of $25 million in FY2016 Zika preparedness and response funds. Applications must be submitted by June 13…MORE

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

FDA brings e-cigarettes under its regulatory umbrella
e-cigarette The FDA has finalized a rule extending its regulatory authority to all tobacco products. , including. The rule, which goes into effect in 90 days, prohibits vendors from selling e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco and pipe tobacco to anyone under the age of 18. Smoking kills 480,000 people each year, making it the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States…MORE

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

EEOC finalizes rules on company wellness programs
The EEOC has released final rules on how employers can offer workers financial incentives up to 30 percent of the cost of their cheapest health insurance plans to participate in wellness programs without violating federal laws protecting the confidentiality of medical information.…MORE

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

MSHA to focus on safety standards for falling materials, poorly lit work areas
During the fourth phase of its Rules to Live by initiative, MSHA will focus on protecting workers from falling materials and poorly lit work areas. These two hazards contributed to six fatalities each during the past 10 years…MORE

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

Cell phone drives train engineer to deadly distraction
cell_phone_blogThe dangers of texting and driving a car, truck or SUV are well-documented and deadly. So what happens when an engineer at the helm of a 200-ton train loses focus?…MORE

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA aims to issue final rule on walking/working surfaces in August
The rule will bring the general industry fall protection standard in line with the more comprehensive construction and maritime standards. Employers will be required to provide workers with safer, more effective fall protection devices, such as self-retracting lanyards, and ladder safety and rope descent systems…MORE

White House, OSHA partner to host free webinar on preventing heat illness
The White House and OSHA encourages the public to join them for a free heat safety webinar on May 26 from 2 – 3 p.m. EDT. During the webinar, an OSHA representative will explain employers’ and supervisors’ responsibility to provide workers with water, rest and shade. In 2014, 2,630 workers suffered from heat illness, and 18 died from heat stroke and related causes…MORE

Nonprofit organizations: Apply for a safety training grant by June 28
Money with BowNonprofit organizations have until June 28, 2016, to apply for a share of $4.6 million in safety training grant money available through OSHA’s Susan Harwood program. The program targets underserved, low-literacy and workers in high-hazard industries…MORE

Texas Department of Health and Human Services (TXDHS)

El Paso reports state’s first West Nile case of 2016
While health officials continue preparing for the possibility Zika could spread in Texas, El Paso reported the first case of another mosquito-borne virus: West Nile. The TXDHS advises the public to protect themselves by wearing repellant, dressing appropriately and eliminating standing water…MORE

Studies, Resources, Trends, News

Sixth sense keeps absented-minded drivers on course
Daydreaming drivers are apt to stray from their lane. When they do, the brain’s anterior cingulate cortex, or ACC, steps in, auto-corrects and keeps them on course. Unfortunately, the ACC is powerless against the most high-profile driver distraction: mobile devices…MORE




3 steps to surviving an active shooter situation

From attending meetings to mentoring and managing others, supervisors have a lot on their plates. Sometimes, they also assume the unpleasant responsibility of letting someone go. For that, Mike Dawid lost his life.

Active shooter situations incite panic, and panic gets people killed. This short video shows how to run, hide or fight your way to safety.

Dawid was the service center manager at Knight Transportation in Katy. For undisclosed reasons, Dawid had to fire 65-year-old Marion Guy Williams.

Williams returned to the facility two weeks later, stormed into the break room, cracked off a warning shot and shouted, “Y’all ruined my life.”

From there, Williams hunted Dawid down and killed him, leaving his wife a widow and his two-year-old son without a father. Williams also injured two other employees before killing himself.

Williams is another in a long line of perpetrators law enforcement classifies as active shooters. An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. In most cases, active shooters use firearms, and there is no pattern or method to their victim selection.

Dawid’s murder was one of three workplace shootings in the Katy area during the past year. notes that with several large companies announcing layoffs, it is critical that employers and employees prepare for violent incidents.

Did you know?
Workplace violence is a pervasive issue that can affect any workplace, regardless of industry. Here are some facts that can help you protect your employees.

Workplace violence is the third-leading cause of fatalities, behind motor vehicle accidents and slips, trips and falls.Violence comes from two sources: 1. Third parties, typically in the form or robberies. 2. Within a company’s ranks.

Employees who exchange money with the public, work alone or in small teams, or work early-morning or late-night hours are at increased risk of third-party violence.

People who work in health care, retail, transportation and other service industries are exposed to the highest risk of workplace violence.

In Texas, 85 percent of workplace violence victims during 2014 were men.

When men are the victims of homicides, robbers are the most common assailants.

Relatives or domestic partners are the most common assailants in homicides involving women.

Data courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Any time a gunman bent on revenge opens fire, people panic. And panic gets people killed.

Credible organizations such as the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recommend a three-step approach to navigating an active shooter situation. If you follow it, you will increase your chances of staying calm and surviving the ordeal.

Option 1. Run
Running should be your first choice. Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you enter, and make sure you have an escape route in mind. Leave your belongings behind, and take anyone who is willing to go with you. Don’t let anyone’s indecisiveness slow you down.

Option2. Hide
If running isn’t an option, look for a safe hiding place. Your hiding place should protect you if shots are fired in your direction, and it should not trap you or restrict your movement. Lock the door or barricade the entry, silence your cell phone and turn off radios, televisions and other sources of noise.

Option 3. Fight
As a last resort, fight the shooter, but only if your life is in imminent danger. Active shooter situations are no time for passive responses. If you choose to fight, commit to your actions. The DHS recommends you act aggressively by yelling, throwing items at the shooter and trying to incapacitate them.

Call 911
Finally, call 911 as soon as it is safe. Again, stay calm and answer the operator’s questions.

The operator will ask for your location. If you don’t know the address, look for landmarks, cross-street signs and buildings. For more information, see these top 10 tips for calling 911.

More information
The DHS offers a downloadable guide to help employers prepare their employees for active shooter situations. Texas Mutual also encourages you to visit our Work Safe, Texas website for tips on protecting your business and your employees from violence.

Work Safe, Texas is open for business in May

Work SafePartnering with you to get your employees safely home to their families every day is the most important service Texas Mutual delivers 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. 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 May offerings waiting for you at

Spotlight on safety issues in the Metroplex
The Lone Star State’s economy has long been the envy of the nation. If we want to keep it that way, we have to protect hard-working Texans from on-the-job injuries. On June 21, Texas Mutual will host a safety summit designed to help Dallas-area employers do just that.

Our safety professionals will share tips for preventing workplace accidents in three core industries that power the Metroplex’s economic engine: retail, construction and services.

If you can’t make the summit, we encourage you to visit the event page and put our safety tips to work in your workplace.

Office workers: Stand up for your health
Working Americans are spending more time off their feet than ever. Today, the average office worker spends approximately 77 percent of their time sitting. So what’s the harm? The more you’re at your desk, the more you get done, right?

Maybe, but all that chair time takes a serious toll on your health.

In this month’s featured post from our Work Safe, Texas blog, we share tips to help office workers work a little movement into their daily routines.

Accident investigations: Determining root causes
Call it taking your lumps or learning the hard way. In workplace safety circles, we call it an accident investigation.

Some employers chalk accidents up as failures in their safety program. We encourage you to treat them as improvement opportunities. This month’s streaming video shows you how.

Safety currents
After months of debate, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the Zika virus can cause birth defects. You can protect yourself from Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses by following a few simple tips. Learn more in our Safety Currents column, your go-to resource for trending wellness and safety news.

Workplace safety articles

As summer temperatures climb, workers can protect themselves from heat illness by remembering three words: Water. Rest. Shade.

Most Texans know the basics of summer safety. We can rattle them off as easily as our shoe size, our birthday and, hopefully, our wedding anniversary.

It’s easy to get complacent as summer temperatures start to heat up. And complacency can lead to serious heat-related illness.

As the thermometer begins its inevitable, agonizing ascent, employers should allow workers to acclimatize, or gradually adjust to hot temperatures.

Learn more about acclimatization and other heat safety strategies in this month’s workplace safety article offerings.

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

Regulatory Roundup, May 6, 2016

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

Texas Mutual News

Do the math: Safety pays. Falls cost.
safety pays falls costs logoFalls are the leading cause of fatalities among construction workers. They’re also the second-leading cause of fatalities across industries, behind only motor vehicle accidents. This week’s blog post encouraged employers and workers to participate in OSHA’s annual fall prevention campaign…MORE

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

U.S. reports first death from Zika virus in Puerto Rico
One person with Zika died at some point between Nov. 1, 2015, and April 14, 2016, in Puerto Rico after developing severe internal bleeding, according to the CDC. Puerto Rico, which is home to the breed of mosquito that carries Zika, is facing a widespread outbreak of the virus…MORE

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

MSHA warns workers about warehouse, storage hazards
safety alertMiners who handle, store and move materials are at risk for musculoskeletal disorders, falls and other injuries, according a new MSHA safety alert. The alert advises workers to follow safe job procedures and comply with Title 30 CFR Parts 56 and 57…MORE

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

NIOSH unveils 10-year Total Worker Health initiative vision
Pilates BallSafe staffing, healthier shift work, flexible work arrangements, good air quality and healthy food options represent core elements in NIOSH’s 10-year vision for its Total Worker Health (TWH) initiative. The TWH initiative promotes the notion that healthy employees get injured less often, and when they do get injured, they recover faster…MORE

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Senators look to ‘cement’ OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program
Senators on both sides of the aisle have introduced legislation that would permanently fund OSHA’s voluntary protection program (VPP). To qualify for VPP, employers must maintain below-average injury and illness rates. VPP employers are exempt from certain OSHA inspections…MORE

OSHA releases two more temporary worker guidance documents
One document stresses that host employers and staffing agencies share responsibility for educating temporary workers about hazardous chemicals. The other document provides scenarios showing the potential consequences of host employers failing to adequately train temporary workers on hazards and preventive measures…MORE

Studies, Resources, Trends, News

Puerto Rico shares tips for combatting Zika
From gene drives to genetically altered mosquitos, scientists are evaluating technological weapons in the fight against Zika virus. In the meantime, everyone can do their part eliminating standing pools of water around their home, installing window screens to keep mosquitos outside, and wearing proven mosquito repellants…MORE

The case for safety showers
Safety showers in the oil and gas field and on offshore rigs often go unused for years, so it can be hard to make a case for them as vital equipment. But if you’re a worker who just got a face full of concentrated acid, a safety shower might just save your life. Employers who are struggling to make sense of the many safety shower models on the market should consider water access/storage, available space, the cost of heating large amounts of water and the environmental conditions…MORE

Synthetic drugs spark look at drugged-driving laws
Law BookNew York is one of 10 states that evaluate intoxicated driving by a list of banned substances rather than on a police officer’s judgment. That loophole in the law allowed a driver high on aerosol dust to escape punishment after smashing into another vehicle and killing an 18-year-old girl…MORE

What are risky drivers thinking?
People who habitually drive drunk and speed have unique motives for taking risk. By identifying those motives, researchers can instill safe behaviors in repeat offenders…MORE

New technology helps regulators identify which chemicals pose risks
PrintThere are more than 80,000 chemicals people can be exposed to. A team of federal government researchers developed a new method to more quickly and economically determine which chemicals pose the greatest health risk…MORE

Are you prepared to address sudden cardiac arrest in your workplace?
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) kills more than 350,000 people each year. SCA can happen to anyone, anytime, including when they’re at work. When administered within two minutes of SCA, an automated external defibrillator, combined with CPR, increases the victim’s chances of survival by 90 percent…MORE


Do the math: Safety pays. Falls cost.

David Wylie, Senior Technical Writer

David Wylie, Senior Technical Writer

There are reasons people pursue writing careers. Some were never much good at sports. Others can’t think of a better way to spend a rainy afternoon than curled up on the couch with a good book. And then there are those, namely me, who simply fear math.

I spent four years, give or take a few semesters, earning a journalism degree. In that time, I took countless classes in researching, writing and edit, but only one math class. And that was just fine with me.

Despite my affinity for the written word, however, I admit hard numbers sometimes make a stronger case than fluid prose. And in this case, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) did the math for me.

Consider these OSHA statistics about on-the-job fatalities among America’s construction workers:

  • 20 percent of workplace fatalities happen in the construction industry.
  • 500 construction workers’ lives could be spared each year if we eliminated the top four causes of fatalities, otherwise known as the fatal four: electrocutions, struck-by incidents, caught in/between incidents and falls.
  • Falls are the most deadly of the fatal four, accounting for 40 percent of fatalities.

OSHA is working hard to raise awareness of the potential deadly consequences of falls in the construction industry. Today, the agency launched its Stand Down for Safety campaign. The annual, week-long event encourages employers and employees to pause during their busy days and talk about the potential deadly consequences of falls.

If you think the few minutes it takes to put on a personal fall arrest system isn’t worth the investment, this two-minute video will change your perspective.

As part of the campaign, OSHA offers a multimedia repository of educational materials, a national directory of campaign events and downloadable certificates of participation.

OSHA designed the Stand Down campaign for the construction industry, but everyone can and should get involved. In fact, the U.S. Air Force was the campaign’s largest participant last year, sharing the message with 1.5 million service personnel and civilians.

I admit my journalism training did nothing to prepare me for navigating life’s everyday mathematical challenges – tipping waiters, balancing a checkbook, doing my taxes. What it did teach me was the importance of closing strong.

So here’s one more statistic to consider. Think of it as the numerical equivalent of an exclamation point.

Approximately 4,000 workers die on the job each year. That’s 4,000 too many. If you take just a few minutes to talk to your team about the importance of fall prevention, you might save someone’s life. Even the most mathematically challenged among us can see those numbers add up just fine.

Tips for a fall-free work day
Falls are the second-leading cause of fatalities across industries, behind only motor vehicle accidents. Whether your employees build high-rise offices, conduct routine maintenance on ladders or take the stairs between floors, they are at risk of suffering a severe fall. Anyone can follow these simple tips to protect themselves:

  • Keep walkways, stairs and exits clear of extension cords, tools, supplies and clutter.
  • Wipe up spills as soon as possible.
  • When taking the stairs, slow down, use the handrails, and avoid reading and sending text messages.
  • Comply with OSHA’s fall protection standards: 6 feet in construction, 4 feet in general industry.
  • Remember that guardrails are usually your best protection against falls. That’s because guardrails prevent you from falling, while safety nets and personal fall arrest systems limit how far you fall.
  • Keep walkways, exits and stairs clear of extension cords, trash, supplies and other clutter.
  • Learn how to choose, inspect, set up and work safely from ladders.

%d bloggers like this: