Regulatory Roundup, June 30

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

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA proposes new recordkeeping deadline

OSHA has proposed a rule that would delay the electronic recordkeeping enforcement date from July 1 to December 1, 2017. The agency has stated that the delay would provide the Trump administration with more time to review the requirements. It also includes plans for launching the data collection website in August, giving employers four months to submit their records…MORE

Annual heat safety campaign launched

According to OSHA, more than 65,000 emergency room visits occur annually due to extreme heat exposure. The administration has launched its annual Water. Rest. Shade. campaign, reminding employers and employees about the dangers of working outdoors in the heat…MORE

OSHA proposes rollback of beryllium ruling

Beryllium is an industrial material linked to chronic beryllium disease, estimated to kill 100 people annually. Last week, OSHA issued a proposal that would require shipyards and construction companies that use coal slag to meet the same maximum exposure limit as other industries. However, it also proposes that the two sectors be exempt from requirements such as medical monitoring and other safety measures, citing that a review indicated no additional benefits…MORE

Acting assistant secretary reaches retirement

Dorothy Dougherty, the acting head of OSHA, retires this week. The White House has not yet nominated a replacement, but Tom Galassi is considered the likeliest candidate. As far as naming an OSHA chief, Scott Mugno remains the most talked-about candidate, but nothing has been announced…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

As we prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July, it’s a good time to review OSHA’s publication on fireworks safety for both sales and display operators…MORE

Safety 2017 expo indicates big shift in technology

Industrial Safety & Hygiene News magazine reports that the recent Safety 2017 expo showcased technology in a big way. Twenty-eight vendors showcased mobile applications ranging from tracking devices to mobile inspection software. The future of safety technology could likely include all workers being connected via web-based mobile devices, allowing safety departments to collect worker data and push data out to workers…MORE

Regulatory Roundup, June 23

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


Public meeting to strengthen Voluntary Protection Programs

OSHA will hold a public meeting on July 17 in Washington, D.C., to discuss the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP), an initiative that supports the prevention of workplace injuries in private industries and federal agencies. A docket is open for those that are not able to attend in person…MORE

Centers for Disease Control

Safety tips to protect against the Zika virus

Last year, we saw an increase in reports of the Zika virus. More than a year later, the concern is still present. The Centers for Disease Control recently issued reminders for Zika safety. While the virus is known to cause birth defects, and pregnant women should take extra precaution, everyone should take steps to prevent mosquito bites…MORE

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Interactive tool provides summer driving tips

Traffic accidents tend to occur more often in the summer time. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an interactive tool which provides tips and reminders on making sure your vehicle is well-maintained, wearing seat belts, taking breaks when on long drives, and other considerations during the summer…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

Preventing fatalities from ignition of vapors

A hazard alert from OSHA, NIOSH, and the National Service, Transmission, Exploration & Production Safety network bring awareness to fatalities stemming from the ignition of vapors near a wellbore. Eighty-five deaths have been linked to fires or explosions. Prevention includes risk assessment, engineering controls and establishing safe practices and procedures…MORE

Prepare for a disaster in three steps

The Texas Department of State Health Services has developed a new website for families and businesses to prepare for disasters. In three steps, you can be prepared. The site offers plans and checklists, tips for evacuation routes and emergency documents you should have on file in case of an emergency…MORE

Online quiz helps bring awareness to dangerous dusts

Harmful dusts in the workplace can expose workers to health risks. A recent quiz on EHSToday sponsored by Camil APC tests your knowledge of dangerous dusts and provides resources for keeping your workers safe…MORE

Your guide to keeping your employees safe in the Texas heat

Love it or hate it, the Texas summer heat is here. As we creep closer to the inevitable triple digits in many parts of the state, keep in mind that temperature is not an accurate representation of how it really feels and how you should protect yourself. The chart below, known as the hierarchy of controls by safety professionals, identifies what level of protection is needed based on the heat index, which gives you a better idea of how much discomfort you will feel when you go outside.

thermometerPeople 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. As an employer, you need to take steps to protect your staff.

Fortunately, you don’t need a PhD in thermodynamics to avoid heat illness. To avoid heat illness, you need a system for identifying the best ways to protect you and your employees 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.

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

Engineering controls

Engineering controls deliver the most effective protection against heat illness. 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 heat illness. 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

Remember, if you can’t take the heat, follow the hierarchy of controls. For more tips on heat safety, watch our “Keep your cool this summer” webinar.

Regulatory Roundup, June 16

June 16, 2017

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

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Hazard alert for oil and gas safety

OSHA worked with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to produce a safety bulletin for workers involved in manual tank gauging and sampling at oil and gas extraction sites. The publication discusses hazards and recommendations for employee safety and health…MORE

Department of Transportation (DOT) 

The DOT invites input to improve infrastructure projects

The DOT is currently reviewing existing policies, guidelines and regulations in order to identify unnecessary obstacles for transportation infrastructure projects. It is asking affected stakeholders and the public for input on non-statutory requirements that should be removed or revised. Comments should be received before July 24. MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

Safe driving tips that everyone should follow

Traffic incidents are the number one cause of workplace fatalities, which is why safety professionals have been warning of the dangers of on-the-job driving for years. A recent article published safe driving tips from OSHA and urges employers to talk about driving safety to all employees – even those who do not drive a vehicle on the job…MORE

Recognizing the signs of heatstroke is crucial during summer months

Outdoor workers face a severe hazard during the summer when engaging in physical exertion and being exposed to heat. Workers and supervisors need to know the signs of heatstroke and take preventative actions to avoid serious health effects or even death. Symptoms range from muscle cramps to disorientation, and hydration is a key preventative measure…MORE

Creating a strong safety culture

According to OSHA, employers dole out about $1 billion per week in direct workers’ compensation costs, and indirect costs can add up just as quickly. Industrial Safety & Hygiene News posted an article this week about why it pays to create a successful workplace safety culture and how to start one…MORE

Commit to safety and health in your workplace

Graphics_Logo_TaglineIn recognition of OSHA’s Safe + Sound Week June 12-18, we’re sharing some of the practices in place at Texas Mutual that create our safety culture. To unite your workplace behind safety, we encourage you to participate in this weeklong event with resources from OSHA’s Safe + Sound Week that best fit your workplace, provided below.

OSHA recognizes the three essential pillars of any effective safety and health program as management leadership, worker participation, and a strategic approach to finding and fixing hazards.

Take the lead on safetyGraphics_Core_Elements_Icons_Leadership
At Texas Mutual, we know that a foundation in safety is best driven by management. We are in the business of keeping workers safe and that goes for own employees as well. One example of leadership working to create safety of culture is  our recently introduced phone-free driving policy.  Texas Mutual CEO Rich Gergasko unveiled the new policy by sharing his commitment to go phone-free any time he is behind the wheel, and asking employees to do the same

To demonstrate management leadership this week, visit OSHA Safe + Sound Week for resources on:

Empower your employeesGraphics_Core_Elements_Icons_Worker_Participation
At Texas Mutual, we energize our employees on their first day on the job by sharing our vision of safety in the workplace. Employees can volunteer to be a part of our Verified First Responder (VFR) team. This team steps up in a time of emergency such as a tornado warning to help with directing employees to a safe location or if an employee needs emergency medical attention by coordinating with paramedics.

OSHA Safe + Sound Week has resources to engage your employees on safety and health through:

Find where you can improveGraphics_Core_Elements_Icons_Find_and_Fix
Outside of Texas Mutual’s VFR team which conducts a monthly facility walk through, we also emphasize the motto “See something, say something” for all employees to report hazards when they see them so they can be promptly addressed. We also conduct annual ergonomic surveys and employees can easily report concerns online, to their supervisor, or by calling facilities or safety personnel.

Try one of OSHA’s approaches below on finding and fixing hazards:

With the resources above, you have the tools to create an event in your workplace to show your commitment to safety. If you’re ready to make it happen, be sure to promote your event and get your certificate of recognition for participating in OSHA Safe + Sound Week.

Regulatory Roundup, June 9

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

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Heat safety app is updated

OSHA partnered with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to redesign the OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool mobile app. The app determines heat index values based on temperature and humidity. The director of NIOSH, John Howard, M.D., explained that most workers rely on employers to provide breaks and drinking water, but this app puts life-saving information in the hands of both workers and employers…MORE

OSHA proposes delay for crane certification mandate

This week, OSHA announced its intention to delay the mandate for construction crane operator certification by one year. OSHA will present its proposal to the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health during a teleconference on June 20. The mandate in question would adjust the basis of certification to only consider the type of crane…MORE

Texas Department of Insurance (TDI)

DWC will host regional summit on July 18

The division of workers’ compensation will host a regional workplace safety summit in Austin on July 18. The workshop will cover maintenance hazards, occupational driving programs, forklift training programs and OSHA recordkeeping…MORE

National Safety Council (NSC)

NSC warns of preventable injury rise during summer months

Most deaths from preventable accidents occur during July and August, according to the NSC. To combat this, NSC urges everyone to use National Safety Month to re-focus on safety both at work and at home. NSC also provides tips for reducing injury risks…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

Texas bans texting and driving

According to TxDOT, one in five car accidents are caused by distracted driving. Earlier this week, Governor Greg Abbott announced that he signed the texting and driving ban into law, which will take effect September 1. Texas joins about 47 other states in this effort to reduce distracted driving…MORE

Stand down for trench safety

The National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA), with OSHA’s support, is requesting that employers across the county hold a trench safety stand down during the week of June 19. NUCA aims to raise awareness of the hazards involved with trenching and excavation operations and reduce injuries…MORE

Safety steps for small businesses

Based on U.S. Small Business Administration standards, small businesses account for 49 percent of the private sector. NIOSH data indicates that these businesses are more likely to experience workplace injuries and illnesses. The EHS Daily Advisor published an article about the three key steps small businesses should take to keep workers safe: know the hazards, prevent and control hazards and train employees…MORE

Putting the brakes on distracted driving

When you are behind the wheel, do you glance at your new texts or Facebook alerts? It only takes a second to lose focus on driving and mistakes behind the wheel can be fatal. While not all accidents can be prevented, at Texas Mutual, we’re putting the brakes on distracted driving by changing our culture.

Texting while driving using cell phone in carSmart phones give us the power to be constantly connected, but our new company policy requires that our employees eliminate the use of phones, even handheld devices, while operating any vehicle during work hours or when on a company trip. We’re asking our employees to wait to return a call or text until they make it safely to their destination or pull over behind picking up the phone and conversely, we should be mindful of our coworkers’ schedules. It’s about more than just putting the phone down. It’s about shifting our mindset about what safe driving looks like.

We invite you and your employees to adopt this same habit as well. The risk is just not worth the reward. By requiring your employees to drive distraction free, you can eliminate near misses, lower the number of driving accidents your workforce experiences and most importantly, help employees stay safe on the road and on the job.

Here are some tips on what you should do to eliminate distractions before you start driving:

  • If needed, alert any coworkers or family members that you will be unavailable while you are driving.
  • If you use your phone for navigation, make sure you have a safe docking solution so that you can stay focused on the road.
  • Pick your podcast, music or audio book before the wheels start rolling.
  • Put your phone in a center console or better yet, just turn it off.
  • Don’t contact employees when you know they could be on the road.
  • Let go of the expectation for employees to answer or return your message immediately.
  • Set an example for your workforce by adopting safe habits and letting your team know what and why you’re doing it.

For a sample policy from the National Safety Council, click here. Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or EndDD (End Distracted Driving) for statistics and resources to educate your workplace on the dangers of distracted driving. Also, watch our 60 Seconds to Safe Driving series for practical tips to be safe behind the wheel.

Bottom line, when you are behind the wheel, you should be focused on one thing: driving. We want to make sure our company culture supports that mindset for employees, and we hope you will as well.

Your Claims Questions Answered – How do I create a return-to-work program?

It’s our goal at Texas Mutual to get injured workers back to a productive life as soon as medically possible. With a return-to-work program, you can save on claim costs, business expenses and injured workers can heal sooner and get back to contributing to the team.

We cover how to create a return-to-work program in our next episode of the Your Claims Questions Answered series. Watch the video below and take a look at the steps to create a return-work program in your workplace. Keeping these steps in mind will help you be prepared if the unexpected happens.

Get started now.
A return-to-work program should begin before an injury occurs. For all your employees, make sure you have a current record of their daily job duties, such as a job description, and encourage cross training. That way if an injury occurs that requires leave time, your team can make sure the job duties get fulfilled and you don’t miss a beat.

It may seem like a quick fix to bring someone new in, but the time and expense of hiring a new employee to replace an experienced worker is 50 to 150 percent of their salary.

Determine modified job duties.
The treating doctor will determine the injured worker’s ability to perform job duties. If they are unable to return to the same job, determine what parts of the job they can still do or find a different area in which the employee can make a positive contribution.

Make an offer to the injured worker for the modified position. It’s best to put it in writing, and it should include a DWC Form-073 (Texas Workers’ Compensation Work Status Report) completed by the physician.

Keep open lines of communication.
A little bit of motivation can go a long way for someone recovering from an injury. Stay in touch with the employee and check in with them. This can help them avoid feelings of isolation and the disability mindset. If the employee is back on the job with modified duties, see how they are adjusting to the new role.

Open communication is also important with Texas Mutual. If you have questions or concerns about the injured worker’s claim or recovery, call us at (800) 859-5995.

While every case is different, one of the best ways to control workers’ compensation costs is with a return-to-work program. Call the Texas Mutual safety services team at 844-WORKSAFE (967-5723) for help getting started or visit for more resources. Watch the Your Claims Questions Answered series here and read our key takeaways from how claims affect your e-mod, reporting an injury, and your role in the claims process.

Regulatory Roundup, June 2

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

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

New transportation module available in OSHA eTool

About 40 percent of fatalities in the oil and gas industry stem from highway vehicle accidents. To help address this, a newly developed transportation module is now available with the OSHA Oil and Gas eTool, a training resource on common industry hazards and solutions. The eTool offers training on transporting personnel and equipment, vehicle operation at well sites, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility task vehicles (UTVs)…MORE

OSHA teams up with the FCC for communication tower safety

The FCC and OSHA created a joint workshop in 2014 and have now released best practice guidelines for safely working on and around communication towers. The guidelines are meant to be informal and do not impose new safety obligations. They center around hazards such as falls, structural collapses, struck-by hazards and improper rigging and hoisting…MORE

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

NIOSH studies the relationship between job factors and health

NIOSH recently conducted a study and found that work duties, a lack of paid sick leave and psychosocial factors raise the risk of poor worker health. Researchers analyzed survey results from more than 10,000 employed adults across many occupations. Participants in business operations were more likely to rate their health as fair or poor, while workers with no paid sick leave or a work-life imbalance were more likely to rate their health as poor…MORE

National Safety Council (NSC)

National safety month begins

The NSC and organizations across the county observe National Safety Month each year in June. The event focuses on reducing injuries both on and off the clock. Topics this year include falls, fatigue, active shooter preparation and ergonomics…MORE

Free train-the-trainer workshops

The National Safety Council has partnered with the Texas Department of Transportation to host free train-the-trainer workshops throughout Texas this summer. Topics include distracted, impaired and aggressive driving along with passenger restraint. After completion of the course, participants will receive copies of the curriculum to present to their companies…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

New technology leads to new types of injuries

The possibilities of new technology are exciting for the safety training world, but many experts are beginning to study the possible side effects such as “BlackBerry thumb” or “laptop back.” A safety report from a new Apple eye-mounted prototype device was recently released and it seems that testers were experiencing eye pain. Experts warn that companies incorporating virtual reality training need to be aware of potential hazards such as drowsiness or eye pain and train for them accordingly…MORE

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