Regulatory Roundup, September 29

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

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Preliminary list of top 10 violations released

OSHA’s preliminary list of the top 10 most common violations for fiscal year 2017 has been released and there is one new addition: fall protection – training requirements has made an appearance in ninth place with 1,523 violations. Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, presented the data during the National Safety Council’s Congress & Expo and urged employers to use the list to look at their own workplace safety standards…MORE

OSHA will announce no new initiatives until permanent assistant secretary appointment

The director of OSHA’s Directorate of Standards and Guidance, Bill Perry, said that the agency will not begin any significant initiatives until a permanent assistant secretary is in place. For the time being, employees will stick to the regulatory agenda and research until an assistant secretary is able to provide a clear focus…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

Find out what fatigue is costing your business

A survey by the National Safety Council (NSC) shows that 43 percent of workers are sleep deprived. This can be costly to businesses, as lack of sleep leads to increased absenteeism, healthcare costs and safety risks in addition to decreased productivity. The NSC has a free online calculator for employers to find out how much fatigue is costing their company…MORE

Stay safe out of the workplace too

The keynote speaker at the National Safety Council’s Congress & Expo urged safety professionals to take their work home. Fifteen times as many accidental deaths occur when workers are off duty versus at work, so it is important to maintain safe habits after hours. Presenters said that self-triggering, analyzing close calls, noting mistakes and good practices in others and working on safety habits can all help lead to safer behavior…MORE

Disaster cleanup safety tips

Many communities are still dealing with cleanup efforts after Hurricane Harvey. Flood waters often contain many dangerous contaminants, so it’s important to take precautions while cleaning and rebuilding. Read safety tips here: MORE

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How to stay healthy and safe during disaster cleanup

Risk SignNow that the water has receded, communities are busy cleaning up the damage from Hurricane Harvey. Take a look below at our tips to stay safe during disaster cleanup, with specific tips for different safety hazards you may face. You can also refer to our blog post, 5 steps to prepare for an emergency, to shape your disaster preparedness.

Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE)

Flood waters are known to carry many contaminants and if water entered your home or business, it may have brought toxins with it, including untreated sewage and industrial chemicals. Flood water can also bring the rapid growth of dangerous mold that can cause respiratory problems. For these reasons, PPE is crucial for cleaning up flood-damaged structures. According to the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA), sufficient PPE includes respiratory masks, long sleeve shirts, pants, work boots, gloves and protective eye wear. This will protect against bacteria, spores and debris.

Know how to dispose of trash and debris

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has shared details on what to do with trash and debris from the storm. The TCEQ has also approved 118 waste management sites to help with the cleanup. Certain types of waste and debris can be recycled or safely burned onsite, so it’s important to know what options are available. Click here for guidance on managing debris from the TCEQ.

Take caution with food and water

A natural disaster can leave homes and businesses without power, which interferes with kitchen refrigeration, and flood waters that enter a property can spoil food. Don’t take any chances. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises discarding any food that may have come in contact with storm water. When in doubt, throw it out.

Be sure to follow guidance from the EPA on the safety of your drinking water and boil it if necessary. The EPA is continuing to monitor the safety and health of water sources and wastewater treatment plants after Harvey.

Think about the health of emergency responders

Being the first on the scene, emergency responders brave the unknown to help others to safety. It’s important to monitor emergency responders’ health following a disaster. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released a new free app to help monitor the health of emergency responders following a natural disaster or public health emergency. With the app, emergency responders can be monitored during and after a response to determine if they need medical attention or further health surveillance.

Find more resources below on staying safe when cleaning up after a disaster:

Visit the Safety Resource Center of your texasmutual.com account for more than 2,000 free resources including emergency and disaster planning videos and presentations to keep your employees safe. If your business has been significantly affected by Hurricane Harvey, visit texasmutual.com/txmfortexas to see what Texas Mutual is doing to help and to find resources for your business.

Regulatory Roundup, September 22

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

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Potential grace period for good faith efforts in silica compliance

The enforcement of OSHA’s crystalline silica ruling begins on Sept. 23 for the construction industry. However, the agency posted a memorandum explaining that employers who are making good-faith efforts to comply could avoid citations during the first 30 days and even receive compliance assistance…MORE

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

New assistant secretary of labor is nominated

Former mining executive David Zatezalo has been nominated to be the assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. Zatezalo has almost 40 years’ experience in the mining industry and United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts has hopes that he will take a tough stance on enforcement…MORE

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

New software for emergency response

NIOSH released a new software platform called ERHMS Info Manager. Its purpose is to track emergency response and worker activity after a natural disaster or public health emergency. Users can create responder profiles, record incidents and assign them to a responder, request information from responders through a form and analyze data…MORE

Texas Department of Insurance (TDI)

Slips, trips and falls training

In 2015, 86 Texans died at work due to slips, trips and falls. TDI has a five-minute training guide to kick-start your safety meetings and help prevent these types of accidents. Topics include proper footwear, good housekeeping and maintenance…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

Tips for preparedness

National Preparedness Month continues, and in light of the recent hurricanes, many are wondering what they should do to be ready for an emergency. Texas Mutual’s recent blog post provides tips to help workplaces prepare for a disaster…MORE

 

Five steps to prepare for an emergency

In light of Hurricane Harvey, many families and businesses are reflecting on what they can do to better prepare for a disaster. Having an emergency plan in place can make all the difference during a crisis, and it’s important to create one before the event.

Be PreparedSeptember is National Preparedness Month, which is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is supported by relief organizations, like the Red Cross. In recognition of National Preparedness Month and in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, we’re covering five steps to help you and your business prepare for an emergency. You’ll also find a list of resources below to help you implement each of the five steps.

  1. Assess potential hazards

It’s important to identify what types of risk exposures exist for your workplace. Consider the hazards that can occur from your type of business, such as chemical exposure or fire danger, but also consider what external factors could cause a crisis at your workplace, such as bad weather, an active shooter, or wildfire danger. Discuss these scenarios and how to manage them with your leadership team so that you, your employees and your workplace are protected as best as possible.

  1. Be informed

As a business owner, you have a responsibility to keep your employees informed and give guidance to them when it’s needed. It’s important to stay up to speed with what’s going on in your community, so take a moment to find out the best way to get information for your area.

Many local news stations offer text alerts, and state agencies and local governments often operate their own Twitter handles to disseminate important information quickly.

News travels fast by word of mouth, so get to know your neighbors in surrounding buildings. Talk about disaster planning and see how you could work together to keep each other informed, report emergencies and handle crises.

  1. Make a plan

Once you identify potential hazards and determine how your business will handle each type of situation, put your plans in writing. Having a written plan will help make sure everyone knows their role and will ensure consistency in your emergency response.

Your emergency action plan (EAP) should include specifics such as:

  • How to report emergencies
  • Who to report to
  • When and how to evacuate the workplace
  • How to lockdown your workplace

In addition to your EAP, prepare a crisis communication plan to document how you will communicate with internal and external audiences.

A crisis communication plan should include:

  • Who you will notify within your company of a crisis situation and how you will notify them
  • What information you will share with employees and how you will communicate with them
  • Who will handle conversations with external audiences such as local, state, and federal authorities
  • Pre-prepared message templates or samples, such as e-mails, letters, tweets, press releases, or text messages, that you can easily update for a specific situation
  1. Get equipped

Prepare your workplace for emergencies with the right supplies and equipment, such as a first aid kit, cardiac defibrillator, fire extinguisher, and an eye wash station, if one is needed for your type of work. Your employees should know where to locate these resources, and you should regularly check them to make sure they are fully stocked and in working condition.

  1. Practice

After you put your plans in writing, it’s important to practice. It can be difficult to remember what to do when an emergency arises, so practicing specific scenarios will help your employees react smoothly. Your plan is only as strong as the people that understand it and know how to execute it. Schedule regular planned and unplanned drills throughout the year.

Emergencies can happen at any time, but these five steps will help you prepare for the unexpected. You can also find more than 2,000 free resources for policyholders, including emergency and disaster planning videos and presentations, on texasmutual.com.

Find more resources below from other organizations that can help you in your emergency planning:

If your business has been significantly affected by Hurricane Harvey, visit texasmutual.com/txmfortexas to see what Texas Mutual is doing to help and to find resources for your business.

Technology helps bring safer driving habits to Texas Mutual

You’re driving down the highway, minding your speed, when a truck flies by, cuts in front of you and slams on its brakes. You’re rightfully irritated and then you notice the truck has a “How’s My Driving?” bumper sticker. Do you take the time to pull over, call and report your experience?

driving car on highwayMore often than not, drivers don’t make the call. For years, Texas Mutual relied on these “How’s My Driving?” stickers to encourage safe driving among our employees, but with no real way to confirm if they were making a positive difference to improve driving behavior.

Safe driving is an issue we are especially aware of here at Texas Mutual. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of on-the-job injuries and death for our policyholders’ employees. It’s our mission to help our policyholders reduce these accidents and keep our own employees safe on the road as well.

That’s why in March 2015, we installed an in-vehicle monitoring system (IVMS) in more than 90 vehicles in our fleet. The IVMS uses telematics technology to transmit information about how someone is driving, which is used to identify potentially unsafe patterns.

For Texas Mutual, our IVMS is about more than just tracking driving behavior – it also offers peace of mind knowing those who travel for work on a daily basis stay safe by practicing good driving behaviors. We ask our policyholders to do all they can to ensure their workers are safe on the road, and we hold ourselves to the same standard.

How an IVMS works

The system, which takes less than one minute to install into your car’s on-board diagnostics (OBD) port, monitors real-time data. It tracks three risk indicators: speed, rapid acceleration and hard braking. Drivers and their department managers receive a weekly scorecard, similar to a school report card, which assigns an overall letter grade and a letter grade for each of the three risk indicators. The intent is to improve driving habits by informing employees of their driving behavior in a timely manner, and identifying potentially unsafe patterns of driving behavior. The reports are not used in performance reviews for disciplinary action or negative feedback.

The weekly scorecards also include distance traveled, driving time, idling cost and engine usage. To encourage friendly competition, you can also have the scorecards rank business groups within the company. Many businesses also use the technology to track deliveries and manage their fleet, and more sophisticated systems include on-board cameras that monitor the driver’s face and eyes for signs of fatigue and distraction. The cost of an IVMS varies with its complexity. Basic systems cost a few hundred dollars, while more advanced ones cost up to $1,000.

Safer drivers, fewer accidents

The IVMS technology provides reliable information and gives us insight into driving performance in a way we never had before. Since implementing our IVMS, we have seen a 61 percent decrease in preventable accidents. In its first week of implementation in March 2015, the average safe driving score at Texas Mutual was 90 out of 100, but that number has increased to 94.5 in the time since then. Our goal is for our employees to return home safely at the end of the day and the IVMS is a tool helping us meet that goal.

car-crash-emergency-workersWhen used as part of a comprehensive fleet safety program, in-vehicle-monitoring systems can help change the behaviors that contribute to traffic accidents, the number one cause of on-the-job fatalities. The technology allows you to monitor risky driving behaviors so that accidents are reduced and most importantly, employees are safe on the road.

Texas Mutual has seen tremendous success from these systems. The majority of employees consistently receive a score of A, and habits are changing for the better, both on the clock and in their personal time.

In-vehicle-monitoring systems work best when it’s part of a comprehensive safe driving program. At Texas Mutual, it does not take the place of our ongoing effort to spread the message about safe driving. Take a look at how we are reshaping our company culture to put the brakes on distracted driving. We continue to educate our employees on safe driving, and those who are on the road as part of their job must still complete a defensive driving course every two years.

If you have any questions about using an IVMS, read more here or call the safety services support center at 844-WORKSAFE. Our safety service representatives can help you determine if this system would be a good fit for your business and help you keep your drivers safer on the road.

Regulatory Roundup, September 15

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

Texas Mutual Insurance Company News

Grant applications open for Texas Mutual policyholders affected by Hurricane Harvey

Texas Mutual is pledging $10 million to the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort for those affected in the Gulf Coast region of Texas. Policyholders who have significant damage from the storm can apply for a grant for up to $10,000. Applications are open now and our review team is processing submissions so that businesses get the funds they need to rebuild…MORE.

Rebuilding Texas

Governor launches website with resources for public facilities

Governor Greg Abbott launched www.RebuildTexas.Today, a website to provide current information on the rebuilding effort for public facilities in the Gulf Coast region in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The site will provide resources to help with the rebuilding of the state’s infrastructure including roads, buildings and schools…MORE.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Safe cleanup after Hurricane Harvey

The EPA continues to monitor the safety and health of water sources and wastewater treatment plants. EPA.gov has the latest updates on air quality monitoring and debris management. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, with the EPA, shared details on what to do with trash and debris. TCEQ has approved 118 waste management sites to help with the cleanup…MORE.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

NIOSH launches software to monitor health of emergency responders

NIOSH released a new free software platform to help monitor the health of emergency responders following a natural disaster or public health emergency. With the Emergency Responder Health and Monitoring Surveillance (ERHMS) Info Manager, users can create profiles and complete surveys so that their health can be monitored during and after a response to determine if they need medical attention or further health surveillance…MORE.

Studies, resources, trends, news

National Safety Council (NSC) report finds safety benefits for contractors managed by third parties

NSC released a report finding that contractors who are qualified through third parties may work more safely and may have fewer days off from workplace accidents.…MORE.

$10 million in Hurricane Harvey Relief Grants for policyholders

Texas flag

We are heartbroken, along with many of you, about the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston and the gulf coast of Texas. Many of those impacted by the storm are the very people whose businesses we work hard to protect every day. We are committed to offering our full support to these employers, which is why Texas Mutual is pledging $10 million to the recovery effort for our policyholders.

This funding will help employers get their businesses on the road to recovery, pay employees’ wages, and rebuild. As these companies and employees work to repair the damage and move forward, we are honored to support them.

How to apply

If you are one of those employers in need, we are here for you. Grant applications open September 13 at noon and funds will be offered on a first come, first serve basis. Current policyholders who have sustained significant damage to a business location in one of the 58 counties on the governor’s Hurricane Harvey Disaster Declaration can apply for up to $10,000 in grant funds from Texas Mutual. Policyholders must have had an in-force policy effective September 12, 2017 or earlier.

Funds can be used for payroll, building rehab or repair, machinery and equipment repair or purchase, replacement of lost inventory, and other expenses associated with rebuilding. Your application will be sent to your agent to co-sign after you’ve submitted it to us. Our review committee is ready to process applications so that we can quickly get funding to those of you in need.

To apply for a grant, visit texasmutual.com/txmfortexas. Additional grant details are available in our frequently asked questions document, or on our website. There you can also find other recovery resources for your business.

Texas Mutual is proud to be your workers’ compensation provider. We know you are the backbone of Texas’ economy – that’s why we have a responsibility to ensure your success and contribute to the resilience of this great state.

Thank you for choosing Texas Mutual, and helping us build a stronger, safer Texas.

Rich Gergasko
President & CEO

rich-gergasko

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