How Texas Mutual will continue to serve those affected by Hurricane Harvey – Updated 9/12/17

The thoughts of all of us at Texas Mutual are with our fellow Texans in Houston and the Gulf Coast region affected by Hurricane Harvey, including the employees in our Houston Regional Office. Everyone’s focus should be on the security and safety of themselves, their loved ones and their property at this time.

Disaster relief.jpgBecause of the storm, some of our Houston area employees are not available for calls or emails. However, our employees in Austin, Dallas and Lubbock are available to meet your needs. Please call (800) 859-5995 with any questions, and our information services team will provide you with necessary assistance.

Texas Mutual stands ready to help, and has the following resources available for our policyholders, injured workers and insurance agency partners. This information will be updated as further details are available.

The Texas Department of Insurance has developed a helpful resources page for anyone affected by Hurricane Harvey, including tips for claim filing, ways to avoid fraudulent contractors and more.


Texas Mutual will provide a grace period for premium payments and suspend any policy cancellations for those in areas affected by the storm, in accordance with guidance from the Texas Department of Insurance. Our premium audit team will make accommodations to ensure that our business processes do not affect your recovery operations.

On Friday, September 8, we notified policyholders who have been selected to receive safety grants that the deadline has been extended to submit receipts for reimbursement by 60 days. These policyholders can contact the safety services team at 844-WORKSAFE (967-5723) with any questions.

Texas Mutual is pledging $10 million to the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort for policyholders. Current policyholders who have sustained significant damage can apply for up to $10,000 in grant funds. Grant applications open September 13 at noon. Visit for information on how to apply and for other resources for your business.

Injured workers

The primary focus for injured workers should be getting appropriate care. Workers in the affected area participating in our Texas Star Network can seek treatment with any medical provider, regardless of network status, in order to ensure that their needs are met. We will try to contact workers receiving paper benefit checks to see if an alternate delivery method is necessary due to flooding.  Your adjuster is here to help, but feel free to call our main number if you are not able to reach us.

If an injured worker in one of the affected areas misses a designated doctor or requirement medical exam because either the worker or provider was unavailable, benefits will not be suspended. Further, claim reporting and filing deadlines for claims in the affected areas are suspended for the duration of the Governor’s disaster declaration.


We value our partnership with our agents, and will do everything we can to help you continue to serve our mutual clients. Underwriting operations will continue out of our Dallas and Austin regional offices for as long as necessary to ensure that it is safe for our Houston employees to return to the office.

Remember that you can check the ‘Documents’ page on Texas Mutual Online to review any policy or agency documents you may need while mail service is unavailable. Call our main number if you need assistance with your online account.

Supporting recovery efforts

For those of you in other parts of the state who wish to help, the following resources are available:

Texas Mutual ADRN

Texas Mutual employees volunteered with the Austin Disaster Relief Network over the weekend. Our employees are ready to continue relief

  • United Way of Greater Houston is on the ground and providing support to those affected. You can give to the disaster relief fund here. United Way of Greater Houston also has a helpful resource guide available for those affected by the storm.
  • Texas Mutual is partnering with the Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN) to get much needed supplies for hurricane survivors. Central Texans are encouraged to bring donation items to ADRN’s Hope Family Thrift Store receiving dock at 1122 E. 51st Street, Austin, Texas, 78723. Donations are accepted at the receiving dock Monday through Saturday (closed Sunday) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit ADRN’s Hurricane Harvey response page for a list of items needed or for more information.


Regulatory Roundup, Aug. 25

Regulatory Roundup is a weekly compilation of employee wellness and safety news. Please share this information with your policyholders as appropriate. For suggestions, contact Ashley Mikytuck at 512-224 3986.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Injury tracking application temporarily suspended, then restored

OSHA’s online injury tracking application reportedly experienced technical difficulties last week, resulting in some pages being unavailable. A spokesperson stated that the agency was alerted to a potential compromise of user information. A scan of the application assured that there was no breach of the data and it has been restored after improvements were implemented…MORE

Department of Transportation (DOT)

Senators question withdrawal of sleep apnea rule

Four senators have asked Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao for the data used in the decision to withdraw a proposed rule on obstructive sleep apnea. The senators have cited serious accidents highlighting the dangers of obstructive sleep apnea for rested, safe driving or operation of transportation equipment. They are urging the DOT to reconsider its decision…MORE

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

DOL shuffles employees

Wayne Palmer, former Department of Labor chief of staff, has been appointed as acting assistant secretary for the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The chief of staff position will be filled by Nicholas Geale. Advocates are reportedly nervous about Palmer’s limited mine safety and health experience…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

PPE tips for storm cleanup

As Hurricane Harvey approaches the Texas Coast, the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) wants to remind cleanup and restoration workers about the proper safety precautions. According to ISEA, sufficient personal protective equipment is crucial for protecting against floodwater-related hazards such as bacteria, spores and debris…MORE

Tips for silica training

EHS magazine provided tips for training general and maritime industry employees under the new silica standard. The article contains a list of topics workers should understand, guidelines for when training should occur and general safety tips for working around silica…MORE

The ASSE votes for a name change

After a recent member vote, the American Society of Safety Engineers will be renamed the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) next year. ASSE President Jim Smith said the name change will better match the organization’s diverse membership…MORE

How to survive an OSHA inspection

When business is good, your team operates like a well-oiled machine, but that doesn’t always mean it’s working safely. If safety falls by the wayside, you could earn a visit from OSHA, which costs up to $126,749 for the most serious violations. Needless to say, that’s a line item you don’t want in your books.

OSHA’s fee structure

Type of violation Penalty
Posting Requirements
$12,675 per violation
Failure to Abate $12,675 per day beyond the abatement date
Willful or Repeated $126,749 per violation

Most employers will never cross OSHA’s radar, but what if OSHA does come knocking? Take a look at our tips for surviving an OSHA inspection.

1. Report injuries and illnesses

OSHA requires employers to record and report all fatalities, as well as certain injuries and illness. You can avoid costly fines by complying with recording and recordkeeping requirements. OSHA launched an Injury Tracking Application on Aug. 1 to help with reporting injuries and illnesses electronically.

2. Know what triggers an inspection

OSHA conducts programmed and unprogrammed inspections. Programmed inspections are planned. They focus on high-hazard companies and industries. Unplanned factors, including fatalities, severe injuries and employee complaints, trigger unprogrammed inspections. OSHA is there to help you keep your employees safe and hold you accountable. Knowing what triggers an inspection will help you prevent accidents that can prompt a visit from OSHA and help you be prepared if an inspection arises.

osha-logo3. Understand the inspection process

OSHA inspections follow a strict process, starting with the inspector presenting his or her credentials. From there, the inspector explains the purpose of the visit during the opening conference. The inspector will then walk the job site looking for hazards. The process wraps up with the closing conference, where you learn about any violations the inspector found. Knowing the steps can help you explain the process to your employees, which can ease their concerns and help you know what to expect.

4. Create an I2P2

A written injury and illness prevention program, known in OSHA-speak as an I2P2, provides a road map for sending employees home injury-free. The plan identifies the hazards employees are exposed to, explains how the company will protect employees and assigns accountability within the program. If you do not have an I2P2 in place, it’s best to be proactive and create one before an injury occurs.

5. Keep accurate records

Accurate records are a critical component of any successful safety program and they’re also a key part of OSHA inspections. During the opening conference, you will present your written I2P2, safety training records, medical surveillance records and OSHA logs. The inspector will also ask about applicable OSHA-required programs, such as hazard communicationhearing conservationforklift safety and confined spaces. This means it’s vital to keep records along the way so that you’re prepared if and when an OSHA inspector comes knocking. For sample programs, visit OSHA and the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) online.

6. Don’t interfere with the inspection

Sometimes, an employer allows the inspector to enter but interferes with or limits an important aspect of the inspection, such as the walk-through or employee interviews. Remember that interference could result in legal action. Allow inspectors to see what they are there to inspect, provide them with requested documentation and allow them to speak to employees.

7. Apply for variances

If you are found to have violated an OSHA standard, you might qualify for a compliance exception, or variance. For example, some employers may not be able to comply fully and on time with a new safety or health standard because of a shortage of personnel, materials or equipment. You can speak to your local OSHA office about this option.

8. Get compliance assistance

If you’ve tried to navigate OSHA’s standards, you know there is a lot to consider. Fortunately, you’re not on your own. Take advantage of these free OSHA-sponsored compliance assistance programs:

  • OSHCON – OSHA partners with TDI to offer the Occupational Safety and Health Consultation (OSHCON) program. The program is a non-regulatory service that helps employers identify and correct violations without getting fined.
  • VPP – Qualifying employers can enroll in OSHA’s voluntary protection program (VPP). Participating employers are exempt from programmed inspections while they maintain their VPP status.
  • Discounted OSHA training – Texas Mutual offers policyholders a discount on OSHA’s 10-hour general industry or construction industry training. Visit Discounted OSHA Training on our website to learn more.

Maintaining a safe workplace is the best way to stay off OSHA’s radar, and Texas Mutual is here to help. Call our safety services support center at 844-WORKSAFE to connect with a dedicated safety consultant who can provide safety evaluations and training. Visit to access more than 2,000 free resources, including e-Learning training modules to educate your employees on safe procedures. We encourage every employer to leverage the free resources offered by Texas Mutual, and make safety a priority in their organization.

Getting schooled on safety

As parents send their kids back to school in the coming weeks, they are entrusting teachers to not only guide their children’s education, but also to keep them safe during their time away from home. Safety is an important component of school life, but it’s important for teachers to keep themselves safe as well. For teachers and school staff, the new academic year could mean an increased chance for the most frequent workers’ comp-related injuries we see in schools: slips, trips and falls.

Road signs in Japan : Warning signs, Children crossingFor teachers and all other school employees, including cafeteria and janitorial staff, the best way to prevent on-the-job injuries is to create a greater awareness of these potential hazards, which in turn will help every staff member prevent them.

Take a look below at our tips for reducing hazards and preventing falls in schools:

  • Hallways, classrooms and reception areas should be kept free of debris and clutter, and trash should be collected and removed daily.
  • Electrical and telephone cords should be routed around doorways and walkways.
  • Worn, torn or loose floor coverings should be repaired or replaced immediately.
  • Floors should be swept or vacuumed daily.
  • Spills should be cleaned up promptly and “Caution: Wet Floor” signs displayed.
  • Library and classroom bookshelves should be solidly constructed and neatly arranged to reduce the possibility of injuries sustained from collapsing shelves or toppling books.
  • Schools with stairwells should ensure the stairs are in good condition, covered with a non-skid material and equipped with sturdy handrails.

Free resources

A safe work environment requires proper training and a collective effort. You’ll find free resources below from Texas Mutual to help prevent slips, trips and falls, as well as safety material to help educators keep their students safe.

  • Utilize Texas Mutual’s free e-Learning online courses. With more than 200 courses to choose from, including fall prevention training, e-Learning helps educate faculty and staff on reducing common workplace injuries. To get started, select e-Learning under the safety resources tab in your account.
  • For a deeper look into why slips, trips and falls happen and how they impact your business, watch our webinar on Tips for a Slip, Trip and Fall-Free Work Day.
  • Visit the National Education Association for free educator resources about emergency planning and violence prevention, and material for parents on school safety issues.

Teaching is an important profession that often emphasizes preparation and education to students, but those values are just as important for teachers. Preparing for the unexpected and educating yourself about potential workplace hazards are the best ways to prevent an injury at work.

Regulatory Roundup

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

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Deputy assistant secretary of labor appointed

Loren Sweatt is the first OSHA appointee under the Trump administration. She fills the role of deputy assistant secretary of labor, previously held by Jordan Barab. OSHA has yet to fill positions for assistant secretary, chief of staff and senior advisers…MORE

Second meeting to be held for updating VPP

OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) emphasize cooperative actions among government, industry and labor to address worker safety. The agency aims to reshape VPP to leverage partner resources, recognize long-term participants and support growth. The second meeting will take place on Aug. 28 and the public comment period will expire on Sept. 15…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

Viewing the solar eclipse safely

On Monday, Texans will experience a partial solar eclipse lasting two to three hours. However, looking directly at the sun without proper protection (not just sunglasses) will cause serious eye injuries. It’s important to wear special-purpose solar filters meeting the ISO 12312-2 international standard and to avoid counterfeits…MORE

Recommendations for static positions at work

Research shows that prolonged sitting could contribute to diabetes, heart disease and other conditions. A manufacturer in Europe has published an e-book examining these health effects, as well as infographics containing helpful tips for safe sitting and standing during work…MORE

Safety tips for table saws

There are an estimated 38,000 table saw injuries each year, ranging from small lacerations to amputations. A recent blog post provides crucial tips for staying safe while using these tools…MORE

10,000 meals and counting delivered to those in need


Texas Mutual employee makes a delivery to a Meals on Wheels participant

At Texas Mutual, wellness and safety are at the heart of everything we do. That mission shapes our giving and empowers our employees to support their communities as well. One way Texas Mutual employees have chosen to do that is by spending their lunch hour taking care of those in need.

While some use their noontime break to run errands or dine out, one group of colleagues at Texas Mutual takes a different approach and delivers meals to feed the elderly in our neighborhood. This changing group of about 26 employees has delivered more than 10,000 meals over the span of 15 years.

The group volunteers with Meals on Wheels Central Texas, a chapter of Meals on Wheel and More, which is a national charity that makes sure housebound seniors have enough to food to eat. The volunteers pick up prepared food from the nonprofit’s kitchens and deliver it to program participants, who receive a hot meal to eat for lunch that day and a refrigerated one for later. This provides valuable assistance to seniors who have limited mobility and may not have family members nearby to help care for them.

That purpose is exactly what drives Lori Keegan, a quality assurance supervisor in our IT department. Lori is the volunteer coordinator of Texas Mutual’s Meals on Wheels partnership.


Texas Mutual employees pack up meals before delivering in the community

“I’m fortunate enough to live close to my family, so I’m there for them, but other people aren’t that fortunate,” she said. “This is a way to help people who aren’t as fortunate as I am.”

Lori coordinates the schedules of the Texas Mutual volunteers, who each drive our route once or twice per month. Together, they deliver about 80 meals every month, building relationships with everyone they bring meals to.

“It’s more than just delivering the meal,” Lori said. “It’s about the total well-being of the person. Sometimes we’re the only person they might see all day.”

When our employees volunteer and support our mission, they make a difference in people’s lives and help us to build stronger, safer communities. Join us in supporting Meals on Wheels and visit our website to see how we’re making a difference in Texas.

Regulatory Roundup, August 11

August 11, 2017

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

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

New online whistleblower complaint form

OSHA has released a revised online whistleblower complaint form, which will help ensure that complaints are filed with the appropriate federal agency. The form is available in English and Spanish and includes new features, such as pop-up boxes when agencies besides OSHA would be best able to address an issue…MORE

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Lifting app can help reduce back injuries

The NIOSH Lifting Equation mobile app can be used to calculate the risk index for single and multiple manual lifting tasks. This can help employees evaluate lifting tasks and will hopefully lead to a reduction in lower back injuries. NLE Calc can be downloaded on iTunes or Google Play…MORE

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

New chemical backlog is eliminated

When EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt took charge of the agency, one of his first challenges was to reduce the backlog of 600 new chemicals in the review process. Pruitt has now announced that, six months later, the backlog has been eliminated. The agency accelerated the process by increasing staff, streamlining the work process and implementing a voluntary pre-submission consultation process…MORE

ANSI approved as accreditation body for formaldehyde rule

The EPA has approved the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as an accreditation body for the Formaldehyde Emissions Standards for Composite Wood Products rule. The rule is intended to reduce exposure to formaldehyde emissions from certain imported or domestically produced wood products. ANSI is one of four organizations recognized to provide accreditation services…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

The impact of wearables on oil and gas

Oil and gas workers face many hazards including falls, toxic fumes, explosions and motor vehicle accidents. The safety world is already looking toward the future of wearable technology, and there are many ways that it could be used to help this historically hazardous industry. New devices could monitor stress levels at heights, sensors that would pick up miniscule amounts of toxic gas and glasses that could measure fatigue based on eyelid movement…MORE

10 tips for a healthier workplace

Keeping Texas workers safe requires a foundation in wellness. At Texas Mutual, this is what we have put into practice for our own employees, and what we encourage for our policyholders. With healthy employees in your workforce, you can expect lower health care costs, increased productivity, and less absenteeism. We discussed these benefits in detail in Combining Work and Wellness for Healthier, More Productive Employees.

dumbbell and apple with measuring tapeFor every $1 you spend on wellness, you can get up to $3 savings on costs associated with health. Whether you launch a robust workplace wellness program or simply make small improvements along the way, there are numerous small changes you can introduce to help improve the health of your workforce. To help you get started, take a look at 10 ways you can start today:

    1. Stay hydrated. Dehydration can make employees feel groggy, cranky, and hungry. Encourage employees to rehydrate by providing water coolers, offering reusable water bottles customized with your company’s logo, or keep the refrigerator stocked with water.
    2. Take stretching or walking breaks. Encourage employees to give their muscles the attention they need, especially if they are working physically demanding jobs. Stretching reduces stress and helps break up the day so that employees are more productive, and walking is a good way for office workers to stay active throughout the day.
    3. Offer flu shots on site. Getting a flu shot reduces your risks of contracting the illness and can keep your employees from missing work. If covering the cost of flu shots is not in the budget, consider offering a discount, or give employees tips on when and where they can get a flu shot on their own.
    4. Stock up on hand sanitizer and tissues. Having these items readily available help to prevent spreading germs and sickness.
    5. Swap out the candy bowl for fresh fruit. The US Department of Agriculture’s “Choose My Plate” website recommends most adults consume about 2 cups of fresh fruit daily. Help employees get theirs in with free apples, oranges and bananas.
    6. Start a fitness challenge. Bring healthy competition to the workplace with a low-cost fitness challenge. Visit 7 Simple, Fun Wellness Challenges to Start at Work for ideas.
    7. Provide health screenings. A wellness screening can identify potential health concerns by checking blood glucose levels, blood pressure, Body Mass Index (BMI), and cholesterol. Motivate employees to improve their results with an incentive such as a gift card, catered lunch, or raffle prize.
    8. Help your employees quit tobacco. The American Cancer Society offers a Fresh Start program, a group-based tobacco cessation support program for workplaces.
    9. Get active with a local gym. Reach out to a local gym about offering discounted membership rates to your employees. Local gyms often provide lower rates in exchange for new members.
    10. Keep the sickness at home. Spreading germs is not worth the risk of making others sick. Make sure that employees who are ill and contagious stay home to recover.

Implementing one of these 10 tips can help you get started with wellness in your workplace or expand your current program. For more resources, call the Texas Mutual safety services team at 844-WORKSAFE (967-5723) or visit

Regulatory Roundup, Aug. 4

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

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Injury Tracking Application now available

OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA), which many employers will need to use to submit injury and illness records, is now available. OSHA’s recent notice of proposed rulemaking extended the submission deadline to Dec. 1, 2017. This year, companies with 20 to 247 employees in certain industries and companies with 250 or more employees will need to submit their 2016 Form 300A…MORE

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

New video on gauging and sampling

NIOSH released a new video regarding the severe hazards associated with manually gauging or collecting fluid samples on production tanks. The video describes hazards such as hydrocarbon gases and vapors, oxygen-deficient atmospheres and fires or explosions. It also explains steps that both employers and workers can take to work safely…MORE

National Safety Council (NSC)

According to the NSC’s 2014 Injury Facts report, more than 20 percent of the workforce has misused prescription painkillers. The NSC encourages employers to educate their own employees about the hazards associated with prescribed drugs, enforce a written policy and promote available employee assistance programs…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

Driving safety video wins Telly Award

The American Trucking Association received a bronze Telly Award for its “Share the Road” instructional video. The video is intended to educate drivers about how to be safe around big rigs. It includes topics such as staying out of truckers’ blind spots, maintaining a safe distance, not cutting in front of a truck and navigating highway construction zones…MORE

Motor vehicle crashes on the rise

About 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year, marking a six percent increase over the previous year. Remember that all employees are at risk; even if they don’t drive a company car, they still commute to work. Texas Mutual policyholders have access to free online defensive driving and distracted driving courses. Email for more information.

Struck-by injuries are highest in the construction industry

A report from the Center for Construction Research and Training shows that there were 804 construction worker fatalities attributed to struck-by incidents between 2011 and 2015. The report also showed that 52 percent of those fatalities involved workers being struck by an object or equipment, while the other 48 percent involved a vehicle…MORE

Recall issued for aerial lifts

Genie Industries issued a safety recall for certain aerial lifts due to platforms potentially dropping because of premature wear of the upper wear pads. The manufacturer discovered that weld debris could trigger early corrosion of the pads and have made replacement wear pad kits available for order…MORE

Combining work and wellness for healthier, more productive employees

Workplace safety is important for preventing injuries and keeping claims costs low, but there’s much more to the equation. The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine estimates that employee obesity costs U.S. employers $73.1 billion annually in medical costs and lost productivity. This expense can be minimized by building a foundation of wellness and promoting a healthy lifestyle in your workplace.

In fact, for every $1 you spend on wellness, you can get up to $3 in savings on health-related costs. Take a look below at why wellness is one of the best investments you can make.

Wellness pays

Reduce workers’ compensation costs.  Your employees likely spend at least 40 hours a week at work, which means that creating a healthy environment for them is key. A 2007 study of Duke University employees showed obesity had a significant effect on the cost and duration of workers’ compensation claims. The Duke report found that obese workers filed twice the number of workers’ compensation claims, had seven times higher medical costs from those claims, and lost 13 times more days of work from  injury or illness than did non-obese workers.

To help fight this issue, educate your employees on body mass index (BMI) rates. Invite a nutritionist or fitness trainer to lead the training to discuss healthy BMI rates and steps your employees can take to get into the normal range.

Lower employer health care costs. Unhealthy employees can increase health care costs for a company. A study from the University of Michigan suggests that unhealthy lifestyle conditions like smoking, stress, or obesity account for one out of every four dollars employers spend on health care. The above mentioned Duke University study found the average medical claims costs per 100 employees were $51,019 for the obese compared to just $7,503 for the non-obese.

Increase worker productivity. The Harvard Business Review cites a 2009 study by Dr. Ronald Loeppke, which found that lost productivity costs are 2.3 times higher than medical and pharmacy costs. Health conditions like depression, anxiety, migraines, respiratory illness, arthritis and diabetes, among others, can contribute to lost productivity. Integrating exercise opportunities into the workday can make a difference. Encourage employees to take short breaks to stretch or walk, or offer an onsite fitness class like yoga for employees to attend.

Prevent employee absenteeism. Providing incentives for employee well-being encourages the improvement of an employee’s overall health and often results in less required sick time. A wellness program can help employees improve their health, which may reduce the number of missed work days. For example, low back pain is the leading contributor to missed work days according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Walking and stretching can help alleviate back pain for chronic sufferers and may reduce the number of days away from the office.

Wellness programs provide employees with tools to reduce health risks and the knowledge to make healthier choices. A wellness program can also lower stress in the workplace, improve health and morale, increase company loyalty and help you to recruit potential employees. If you’re ready to gain the benefits of combining work and wellness, visit for tips on getting started, and watch for 10 tips for a healthier workplace on the blog next week.


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