Free resources for Texas Mutual’s agent community

04e7b5b8-d910-4da9-8de9-b031ae2f4b5dAs an agent, you know you can count on us as an educational resource for your Texas Mutual clients, but what you may not know is that we’re also a resource for you. Our agent community has access to many educational opportunities and tools to help with understanding workers’ comp insurance, the industry, and how to best help clients improve their bottom line. From online tools to news updates to in-person events, there are countless opportunities for our agents to learn and grow.

Below are a few of our most helpful resources, which are all available to Texas Mutual’s agent community.

Marketing materials

At texasmutual.com, agents can access a number of marketing materials that do double duty, helping you understand all that Texas Mutual has to offer while also assisting you with selling to clients. On this page, agents can find information sheets, the Employer’s Guide to Workers’ Comp, safety group information, our annual report and more.

Live events

Texas Mutual offers many live events that our agent community can attend throughout the year.  Our workshops and Producer Day events across Texas offer a chance to learn while also earning 2.5 CE credits. Our next agent workshop will be held in Lubbock on August 24. The Workshops and Training section of our website will be updated with a registration link in the coming weeks.

NCCI updates

Texas’ workers’ comp industry has seen a number of changes over the last year and will continue to experience more. To help guide our agents through these updates, we created a special page on our website with news, updates, articles and more. Visit texasmutual.com/ncci to see our latest updates.

Agent News e-newsletter

Our monthly Agent News e-newsletter offers industry news, safety alerts to pass on to clients and information that makes doing business with Texas Mutual even easier. You can sign up to receive Agent News by clicking here.

Webinars

Many agents are aware of our monthly policyholder webinars, but they may not know that we also offer agent webinars. Texas Mutual agents can register for webinars through the email invitation sent in the weeks leading up to a new webinar offering, or watch webinar archives by visiting the Workshops and Training section of texasmutual.com. Current webinar archives include Basic Experience Modifier Training, a webinar covering last year’s NCCI changes, and more.

Agent’s Guide to Workers’ Comp

Our annual guide provides a complete overview of workers’ comp in general, and working with Texas Mutual in particular. It’s a great guide for those new to the industry, and an easy read for experienced agents who want a refresh.

Regulatory Roundup

Every Friday here on the Texas Mutual blog, Regulatory Roundup shares all the industry news you need to know in one convenient place. With updates from regulatory agencies, trending safety issues, Texas Mutual happenings and more, it’s your one-stop-shop for workers’ comp news. Take a look at our latest Regulatory Roundup and subscribe in the upper right corner of this page to receive an email each time we share new information on the blog.

 

Regulatory Roundup, June 24, 2016

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

Texas Mutual

If you can’t take the heat, follow the hierarchy
hierarchycontrolsLast week, OSHA issued a heat advisory for Texas. Employers should use the hierarchy of controls to protect employees from heat illness this summer…MORE

6 employee training programs companies should invest in
Companies that invest in training yield 218 percent more income per employee than those that don’t, according to a recent study. Texas Mutual’s Woody Hill says employers that want to control lost productivity, increased workers’ compensation premiums and other costs associated with workplace accidents should include health and safety in their training offerings…MORE

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

New TSCA law reigns in chemical safety
When the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) went into effect in 1976, there were 62,000 chemicals in the marketplace. Five have been banned under the Act, and only a small percentage has been scrutinized for hazards. That could soon change with the signing of an updated law that eliminates bureaucratic hurdles to evaluating chemical safety…MORE

Federal Legislation

U.S. Supreme Court limits drunk driving test laws
drunk drivingA Supreme Court ruling requires police to get a search warrant before requiring suspected drunk drivers to submit to blood tests. The ruling does not apply to breath tests…MORE

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

NIOSH releases hazard recognition simulator for aerial lift operators
A new NIOSH simulator helps workers acclimate to aerial lift operation and identify associated hazards,  such as depressions, crushing hazards and tip-over hazards…MORE

Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA)

President signs pipeline safety bill
legislationPresident Obama signed a bill that renews the federal government’s pipeline safety program. The law grants the PHMSA the power to quickly issue emergency orders for the pipeline industry, and it mandates national regulations for the construction and operation of underground natural gas storage facilities…MORE

Studies, Resources, Trends, News

Pharmaceutical companies to start testing first Zika vaccine on humans
Two pharmaceutical companies have their sights set on releasing the world’s first Zika vaccine. Federal regulators gave the companies the green light to start testing the vaccine on 40 human subjects…MORE

High-tech safety features a priority for older drivers
BU-InfoG-ThumbBlind-spot warning systems, smart headlights and other high-tech safety features are a priority for 76 percent of drivers who are at least 50 years old, according to a new survey. The survey suggests older drivers equate advanced technology with enhanced safety…MORE

33 percent of American workers say their employers prioritize productivity over safety
One-third of the 2,000 employees who participated in a National Safety Council survey believe safety takes a backseat to productivity at their organizations. That perception was highest among employees in high-hazard industries…MORE

Global safety standard developers aiming for a 2017 effective date
ISO, 45001, the voluntary international standard intended to improve workplace safety across the globe, is expected to go into effect sometime in 2017. Contractors are watching the proceedings closely because some multinational companies will only do business with ISO-certified suppliers and contractors… MORE

 

 

If you can’t take the heat, follow the hierarchy

From indirect calorimetry to wet bulb globe thermometers, the strategies safety pros use to protect workers from heat exposure would make the average person’s eyes gloss over. Fortunately, we cater to average people on this blog.

How hot does it feel?
When talk turns to heat safety, it’s tempting to take our cues from the thermometer. But temperature only shows half the picture. The heat index, which combines temperature and humidity, is a more accurate reflection of the climate and how it will affect you.
Heat index Risk level Protective measures
Less than 91 degrees Fahrenheit Lower caution Basic heat safety and planning
91 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit Moderate Implement precautions and heighten awareness
103 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit High Additional precautions to protect workers
Greater than 115 degrees Fahrenheit Very high to extreme Triggers even more aggressive protective measures

So here’s the message in plain language: Summer temperatures in Texas are unpleasant at best, fatal at worst.

People who make their living outdoors, as well as those who do physical work in warehouses and other hot indoor spaces, will be at risk of heat illness. Their employers need to take steps to protect them.

Fortunately, you don’t need a PhD in thermodynamics to avoid heat illness. What you do need is a system for identifying the best ways to protect yourself this summer. Safety professionals call it the hierarchy of controls. The rest of us can call it an easy way to keep our cool with hot, humid weather descending on Texas.

Engineering controls

Engineering controls deliver the most effective protection against workplace hazards. Engineering controls eliminate the hazard at its source:

  • Provide air conditioning and/or cooling fans.
  • Increase ventilation; provide portable ventilation when possible.
  • Install local exhaust ventilation, such as exhaust hoods in laundry rooms and other hot, moist workplaces.
  • Redirect heat with reflective shields.
  • Insulate hot surfaces, such as furnace walls.

Administrative controls

Administrative controls are the second-most effective way to control hazards. Administrative controls change the way employees do the work. The goal is to reduce exposure to the hazard:

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

PPE is your least-effective control against workplace hazards because it carries risk. PPE could be damaged, and it could give the user a false sense of security. So PPE should always be your last line of defense against workplace hazards:

  • Broad-brimmed hats with neck flaps
  • Light-colored, breathable clothing
  • Safety glasses with tinted, polarized lenses
  • SPF 15-25 sun block
  • Water-cooled garments, air-cooled garments, cooling vests and wetted over-garments
  • Insulated gloves, insulated suits, reflective clothing and infrared reflecting face shields
  • Thermally conditioned clothing, such as a garment with a self-contained air conditioner in a backpack
  • A garment with a compressed air source that feeds cool air through a vortex tube
  • A plastic jacket with pockets filled with dry ice or containers of ice

Heat claims landscaper’s life

A 30-year old landscaper collapsed and died at the end of a day spent mowing lawns. Doctors recorded his body temperature at 107.6 degrees, compared with a normal temperature of 98.6 degrees.

The day of the incident, temperatures climbed no higher than 81 degrees. So how could the man’s core temperature reach a fatal level on such a relatively mild day?

Further examination revealed the worker was taking a prescription medication that increased his risk of heat-related illness.

Some prescription medications affect your body’s ability to stay hydrated and respond appropriately to heat. Similarly, some illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines, can increase your core temperature.

We encourage you to watch this 30-minute Texas Mutual webinar titled “Keep your cool this summer” for the rest of this case study in heat illness. Our experts will also define the most common varieties of heat illness and give you more tips for protecting your employees.

Regulatory Roundup, June 17, 2016

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

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

More than 5 million U.S. workers using e-cigarettes
e-cigaretteAbout 5.5 million working adults in the United States used electronic cigarettes in 2014, with the prevalence highest among workers in the accommodation and food services industry, according to new CDC research. The research recommends employers enforce policies that ban tobacco use, offer tobacco cessation programs and partner with health departments to inform workers about the adverse health effects of tobacco use…MORE

25 percent of opioid users get addicted: CDC
Narcotics with Prescription Warning LabelOne in four patients who receive opioids long term in a primary care setting get addicted, according to the CDC. Opioid use has reached epidemic proportions, claiming nearly 19,000 lives annually. The CDC recommends patients discuss pain management alternatives with their doctors and divulge history of drug or alcohol abuse before taking opioids…MORE

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

NIOSH, NSC co-host safe-driving Twitter chat
The chat, part of the annual National Safety Month observance, will take place June 28 from 1-2 p.m. EST. The public can tweet using the #DriveSafe4Life hashtag and follow @NIOSH_MVSafety and @NSCsafety for road safety tips during the chat.

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)

FRA expands alcohol, drug testing to cover track maintenance workers
trainEffective June 12, 2017, a new FRA rule will extend drug and alcohol testing to maintenance-of-way (MOW) workers. MOW workers are currently exempt from testing unless they die as a result of an accident…MORE

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA reminds Texas employers to protect workers from the heat
OSHA_Poster_fromOPA_English_042711lowresproofWith temperatures soaring in Texas this week, OSHA shared its simple, three-part formula for protecting workers from heat illness: Water. Rest. Shade…MORE

Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA)

Senate sends pipeline safety bill to president’s desk
The bill directs the PHMSA to regulate underground natural gas storage, sets reasonable PHMSA authorization levels and directs PHMSA to complete the regulatory mandates under the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty and Job Creation Act of 2011.…MORE

Texas Department of Insurance (TDI)

Wake up!
Few would argue drunk driving is dangerous driving. But did you know fatigue can affect your ability to operate a vehicle as much as alcohol can? The June edition of TDI’s newsletter shares tips for staying awake and alive behind the wheel…MORE

Studies, Resources, Trends, News

“Smart drugs” finding their way into the workplace
It’s not uncommon for students to lean on Adderall, Ritalin and other attention deficit disorder drugs to improve their concentration. Nowadays, adults are turning to these “smart drugs” to get a leg up in the workplace, as well. Besides the potential safety issues, employers have to consider whether smart drugs give users an unfair advantage…MORE

Needle stick infects lab worker with Zika virus
needle stickZika virus is primarily spread through bites from infected mosquitos. But in another unusual twist in the Zika epidemic, a lab worker contracted the virus via a needle stick. OSHA recently issued guidelines to protect health care professionals and outdoor workers from Zika…MORE

Legionnaires’ outbreaks nearly quadrupled in 15 years
Cases of Legionnaires, a water-borne, severe form of pneumonia, quadrupled between 2000 and 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health care professionals point to an aging population, more people with chronic illnesses, older plumbing infrastructure, increased use of diagnostic testing and more reliable reporting as reasons for the increase. Most cases of Legionnaires can be prevented by proper use of disinfectant, the right water temperature and other water-treatment measures…MORE

Get your personal safety snapshot
The National Safety Council rolled out a tool that empowers users to get a snapshot of their highest health risks. Simply enter your gender, age, occupation, what state you live in and your children’s ages, and the tool takes it from there…

MORE

 

 

Regulatory Roundup, June 10, 2016

Regulatory Roundup is a weekly compilation of news that affects the workers’ compensation industry.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Congress overhauls chemical safety standards
legislationCongress passed a bill this week that would empower the EPA to regulate thousands of chemicals and order testing to ensure they are safe for consumers. The bill, 10 years in the making, awaits the president’s signature…MORE

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

FMCSA requires commercial truck passengers to buckle up
2seconds2click-logoThe FMCSA passed a final rule that requires all passengers in large commercial trucks to wear safety belts whenever the vehicles take part in interstate commerce. Only 73 percent of commercial motor vehicle passengers wear safety belts, compared with 84 percent of drivers, according to an FMCSA study…MORE

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

MSHA looks to shore up worksite examinations
A 44-year-old haul driver died when his truck careened off an elevated road and spilled into a pond. MSHA determined the roadway had no barrier to stop the truck. MSHA responded by proposing a rule that would strengthen standards for metal and nonmetal worksite examinations…MORE

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

New NIOSH app takes the strain out of mining work
ErgoMine helps users avoid back strains and other musculoskeletal disorders during common mining activities such as bagging, haul truck operations, maintenance and repair. The app is available for Android systems…MORE (Scroll down to NIOSH communication product spotlight)

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

When thunder roars, get indoors
Lightning has a way of throwing a wet blanket on your summer outdoor plans. For people who work in the construction, telecommunications, landscaping and other outdoor industries, lighting also represents a serious occupational hazard. If employees hear thunder, they can be sure lightning is near, prompting them to get inside immediately, according to a new OSHA/NOAA fact sheet…MORE

Combustible dust standard drawing closer?
In October 2016, OSHA plans to assemble a panel to evaluate how a combustible dust standard would impact small businesses. OSHA’s website lists 15 standards that address employers’ responsibility for preventing catastrophic explosions from combustible dust accumulations…MORE

Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA)

PHMSA issues slate of hazmat amendments
The amendments include administrative and package testing requirements, as well as provisions applying directly to hazardous material transport…MORE

World Health Organization (WHO)

WHO suggests delaying pregnancy in areas with Zika
mosquitoPeople living in areas where the Zika virus is circulating should consider delaying pregnancy to avoid having babies with birth defects, according to the WHO. Currently, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands and American Samoa are the only parts of the United States with local transmission of the virus. Clusters of cases are expected to appear in Florida and along the Gulf Coast this summer…MORE

Studies, Resources, Trends, News

How will drones impact claims?
drone
From managing wildfires to inspecting bridges, drones are increasingly keeping humans out of harm’s way. Before long, they could remove us from the accident investigation process, too…MORE

Hiring teens this summer? Teach them how to go home injury-free
In 2014, 25 percent of retail workers under 18 years old suffered on-the-job injuries. During National Safety Month, the National Safety Council encourages employers to teach young workers to navigate slippery floors, dangerous equipment, driving and other retail industry hazards…MORE

Opioid reforms working as intended in Texas
pills and stethescopePrescription drug overdoses have reached epidemic proportions across the country, claiming nearly 19,000 lives in 2014. Workers’ comp blogger Joe Paduda points out Texas’ opioid painkiller death rate is 2.5 per 100,000, among the lowest in the nation. Also this week, a WCRI study suggested reforms are reducing opioid prescriptions in Texas workers’ comp claims…MORE

10 people die every day during the summer from a crash involving a teen driver
Teen crash deaths historically climb during the ‘100 Deadliest Days’ — the period starting at Memorial Day. Nearly 60 percent of teen crashes involve distractions behind the wheel, but the primary culprit is not the most likely culprit, according to a new AAA study…MORE

Regulatory Roundup, June 3, 2016

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

Texas Mutual News

June 1, 2016: The day to stop experimenting with chemical safety
pictogramAs of June 1, 2016, OSHA required full compliance with its revised hazard communication standard. Our blog featured practical tips anyone can use to protect themselves when working with hazardous chemicals…MORE

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Summer jobs can carry a price tag for teens
School’s out, and thousands of teens are pounding the pavement in search of jobs. Many will land in the retail industry, where slips, trips, falls and workplace violence can rob them of off-the-clock fun in the sun…MORE

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

FDA approves first implant for opioid dependence treatment
Narcotics with Prescription Warning LabelThe implant delivers a constant, low-level dose of buprenorphine for six months in patients who are stable on low-to-moderate doses of other forms of buprenorphine. Previously, the FDA only approved buprenorphine for opioid dependence treatment as a pill or a film placed under the tongue or on the inside of a person’s cheek…MORE

National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA)

NFPA combustible dust standard now in place
The standard promotes three principles: control the fuel, control the ignition sources and limit the spread of combustion events…ORE

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

Deaths in abandoned mines prompt MSHA safety alert
safety alertWhen curious explorers relent to the temptation of investigating abandoned mines, the results can be fatal. MSHA urges mine operators to inspect their mines for hazards; build or fix fences, gates and berms; post additional signage; issue public service announcements; and discuss mine hazards through local media outlets…MORE

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA unveils ambitious spring regulatory agenda
Before the curtain closes on the current administration, OSHA plans to roll out is long-awaited walking/working surfaces rule. The rule is one of 15 substantive initiatives highlighting OSHA’s ambitious spring regulatory agenda…MORE

Texas Department of State Health Services (Texas DSHS)

New campaign aims to take the bite out of Zika
mosquitoZika won’t have a biting chance this summer if the Texas DSHS has anything to say about it. The agency launched a campaign featuring radio, television, online and outdoor ads reminding people to eliminate standing water, keep mosquitoes out of their homes and prevent mosquito bites…MORE

Studies, Resources, Trends, News

Prince one of 50 who overdosed on opioids on same day
The day Prince died, the music also stopped for 51 other people. The common denominator: Dependence on a perfectly legal, yet highly lethal prescription medication…MORE

7 common workplace hazards, and how to control them
National Safety Council consultants inspect worksites on every corner of the globe. In this infographic, they reveal the seven most common hazards they see and explain how employers can control them… MORE

 

 

It’s time to stop experimenting with chemical safety

In 2013, a warehouse of ammonium nitrate detonated with the force of 10 tons of TNT at the West Fertilizer Company. The explosion killed 15 people and injured hundreds more. Following 400 interviews, an exhaustive review of witness photos and videos, and meticulous scientific testing over the past three years, federal officials confirmed last month someone intentionally set the fire that sparked the deadly explosion.

Are you fully compliant with OSHA’s haz comm standard?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hazard communication standard (HCS) helps ensure employees understand the hazards associated with the chemicals they use. OSHA revised the standard in 2012 and rolled it out in phases.

As of June 1, 2016, employers must be fully compliant with the revised HCS.

The revised HCS ushers in new pictograms, chemical labels and safety data sheets, previously called material safety data sheets (SDS). It also required employers to train their employees on the new labels and SDS format by Dec. 1, 2013.

Texas Mutual safety services consultants still hear from employers who weren’t aware OSHA revised the HCS and who have not complied with their training obligations.

For more information about the revised HCS, visit our Work Safe, Texas website.

Of course, most workplaces don’t store volatile ammonium nitrate. But that doesn’t mean their employees don’t share workspace with hazardous chemicals.

From paint to glue to common cleaning products, we all use chemicals that can harm us.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) took steps to protect workers from chemical exposure by revising its hazard communication standard, which went into full effect on June 1, 2016 (See sidebar).

Aside from complying with the revised standard, here are some tips we can all use to protect ourselves from hazardous chemicals.

Remember the basics
Sometimes, you can eliminate the risk associated with a chemical by simply choosing a safer alternative. For example, maybe you can substitute lead-based paint with acrylic-based paint.

Whichever chemical you use, make sure you understand the hazards and know how to protect yourself.

Protective measures include using chemicals only for their intended purpose, ensuring your workspace is adequately ventilated and never mixing chemicals without making sure it’s safe.

Use personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is anything that puts a barrier between you and a hazard. Common PPE for chemical hazards includes respirators, eye protection and gloves. If you use PPE, remember: 1. PPE should fit properly. If it doesn’t, tell your supervisor. 2. You must inspect PPE before each use. If you see damage, don’t use it, and make sure co-workers don’t use it either. 3. PPE is your least-effective protection against hazards, so don’t rely on it.

Keep it clean
Ever get tired of health officials reminding you that washing your hands is one of the most effective ways to steer clear of air-borne illnesses? Brace yourself, because the same advice applies to handling chemicals.

Besides hand-washing, you should clean work surfaces regularly to reduce the risk of contamination. If you or a co-worker spills a chemical, make sure you know how to safely clean it up. In some cases, that will mean calling a professional who understands the hazards.

Store chemicals safely
Texas Mutual recently received a claim involving a worker who put a toxic chemical in a sports drink bottle. He intended to dispose of it later, but instead accidentally drank it. You can avoid a similar fate by never storing chemicals in soda bottles or other common containers. Instead, consult the chemical’s label and safety data sheet for the manufacturer’s storage instructions, and clearly mark and isolate containers that house hazardous chemicals.

Prepare for the unexpected
Despite your best-laid plans, accidents happen. When they do, it is critical you know how to respond. Make sure you understand your employer’s emergency response plan, which should include such things as the location of emergency eyewash stations and instructions for delivering first aid or getting medical attention for victims.

 

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