Regulatory Roundup, Dec. 22

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

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

ITA will remain open until the end of the year

Due to the amount of user confusion, OSHA has announced that the injury tracking application (ITA) will remain open through midnight on Dec. 31.  Any employers that still need to submit their Form 300A must do so before January…MORE

OSHA will propose changes to electronic submission requirement

OSHA has proposed making 300A forms the only ones required for electronic data submission. As it stands now, employers with 250 or more employees would be required to submit the 300, 300A and 301. The proposed change stems from concern about the possible release of personally identifiable information…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

Workplace fatalities at the highest level since 2008

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report on fatal workplace injuries, showing that 5,190 workers died in 2016. This marks a seven percent increase from 2015 and the highest number since 2008. Texas had the highest number of deaths…MORE

A different approach to the top 10 list

Lifeline Strategies posted an article arguing for a more in-depth approach to the top 10 violation list that OSHA releases each year. The article argues that although it is important to be aware of safety trends, the violations may not encompass all safety concerns at your company. It also explains that the number of violations and amount of fines tell more about what’s going on with OSHA enforcement than within businesses. For instance, the total violations have decreased 15 percent since 2015…MORE

How to keep new employees safe on the job

new employee forkliftMore than half of the 2.9 million workplace injuries and illnesses that occurred in 2015 involved days away from work, job transfers, or days with restricted job duties, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of these injuries and illnesses occur among new employees, but that includes more than just brand new employees. It also includes people who transfer to a new position, return to work after an extended absence, operate a new piece of equipment or implement a new procedure.

Keeping your employees safe on the job means ensuring safety among every employee in every role. Here are a few safety tips to help you bridge the gap on safety training for your new employees.

Start early, and be thorough

The sooner new employees start practicing safe work behaviors, the more likely those behaviors are to become habits. Don’t just explain what to do; take time to explain what not to do and what the consequences may be if safe work procedures are not followed. Ask employees to repeat procedures or tasks until you are confident they can do the job safely.

Follow-up training should be part of the new employee orientation process. Those first days at a new job are filled with many new procedures, rules and activities. Frequent follow-up gives new employees the opportunity to ask questions with less hesitation. When new employees consistently demonstrate they understand the new task, less frequent follow-up is necessary. If employees do not understand a procedure, encourage them to ask questions. It takes more than one day to turn a new employee into a safe, productive worker.

Provide a clear and concise safety policy

New employees need to know there is a comprehensive commitment to safety throughout the company. Put your commitment in writing, and make it visible for new staff, as well as current personnel. It is critical that new employees avoid taking risks. Encourage them to ask questions if they do not understand safety procedures. New employees have to trust that management will not reprimand them for seeking help.

Enforce this simple rule among all employees, including new employees: If a task or action makes you uncomfortable or raises a concern, don’t do it!

Think prevention

Most injuries can be avoided if employees learn to recognize unsafe situations. Encouraging new employees to think about prevention will make them more aware of unsafe practices and better prepared to help their co-workers.

Management takes the lead

Management often relies on employees to report unsafe conditions or hazards in the workplace. Therefore, employees must feel comfortable approaching a manager or supervisor about these conditions. Employees should not be reprimanded for reporting unsafe working conditions. If management demonstrates a commitment to safety, new employees are likely to follow their lead.

Observe often, and provide feedback

While new employees are learning and adapting to the job, it is essential to observe and monitor their work practices and behaviors. Observation helps to determine whether new employees are taking safety training to heart. It also creates an opportunity for supervisors to provide feedback on a new employee’s performance.

Make safety resources available

Providing employees with clear, written communications about your company’s safety expectations and practices is key to ensuring there is a consistent message about workplace safety.

Remembering these precautions when introducing a new hire to the company’s safety practices can greatly increase efficiency, productivity, morale and profitability. More importantly, it can prevent accidents and injuries.

As you get ready for the New Year and prepare for internal changes and new hires at your business, follow these guidelines to prevent workplace injuries. Visit the safety resource center of your account for more than 2,000 free resources, including 200 e-Learning courses to keep your employees safe.

Regulatory Roundup, December 15

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

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA administrator nomination moves forward in Senate

This week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted to move forward with Scott Mugno’s nomination to become OSHA’s next administrator. During his confirmation hearing, Mugno emphasized that teamwork is crucial in achieving worker safety…MORE

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

Guidelines for occupational health and safety management systems reachfinal draft stage

Upcoming international standard ISO 45001 has reached the final draft international standard stage and the public can currently submit feedback on the draft. The final publication is expected to be released in March 2018 and will cover guidelines for adopting an occupational health and safety management system…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

Workers’ comp costs down 63 percent in 12 years

The Texas Department of Insurance reports that workers’ compensation premiums in Texas have fallen 63 percent since 2005, and more companies are choosing to provide insurance. Additionally, there has been a 28 percent decline in employees filing claims. The agency believes this is due to an improvement in care through health care networks, a drug formulary, safer workplaces and other reforms from the Division of Workers’ Compensation…MORE

Podcast releases top 3 safety challenges

The 25th episode of the EHS on Tap podcast covered the top three workplace safety challenges and ways for employers to address them. The topics were based on a survey of environmental health and safety professionals and included supervisor participation in safety programs, employees breaking safety rules and employee engagement…MORE

Tips to winterize your vehicles

Traction control and other technologies are making it easier to drive in winter weather, but the National Safety Council (NSC) reminds drivers that we are our cars’ best safety feature. The NSC provides information to handle the winter weather, including tips on winterizing your vehicle, avoiding a crash and what items to store in your car…MORE

Texas Mutual 2017 year in review

Texas Mutual is committed to building a stronger, safer Texas. It’s what drives us to do everything that we do, and it’s made possible because that mission is embraced by our employees, agents, policyholders, and nonprofit partners. It’s this shared mission that contributes to our success, and as we prepare for the year ahead, we also want to reflect on 2017.

Take a look at our highlights from this year:

TXM for Texas: our commitment to communities
Taking care of people is at the heart of what we do, from our customers to our communities. We put that commitment into action by investing our time and resources in the safety, education and wellness of all Texans. This has been a longtime commitment of ours, and our new TXM for Texas community affairs program helps us to extend our reach within our three areas of focus: safety, wellness, and education. Learn more about what we are doing to make an impact.

Record-breaking dividend distribution
This year, Texas Mutual paid out a record-breaking $260 million in dividends to policyholders who share a commitment to safety. In November, 4,000 newer policyholders received $3 million in dividends for exhibiting safe workplaces. Visit to learn more about our dividend program.

Texas Mutual has been paying dividends since 1999. It’s our responsibility to promote safety and help prevent workplace injuries, and dividends are our way of rewarding businesses that share our commitment.

2017 Best Company to Work for in Texas
Texas Mutual was recognized as a 2017 Best Company to Work for in Texas, an honor we have earned five times. Our dedicated employees in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and Lubbock further our mission to provide a stable, competitive source of workers’ compensation insurance, and help prevent on-the-job injuries and illnesses.

We take pride in the benefits we provide to our employees to help them excel in their careers and contribute to their well-being, which in turn helps them deliver better service to all of our customers.

Hurricane Harvey Grant Relief Program
Hurricane Harvey was personal for us because it affected our own employees and many of the businesses that contribute to Texas’ economy. In response, we launched a $10 million grant program for policyholders just 10 days after the storm hit. Policyholders could apply for up to $10,000 each to help with their recovery, and more than 1,100 business owners received a grant. We know these businesses are the backbone of the Texas economy and we are honored to support them. Read one policyholder’s story here.

System enhancements
Over the summer, we replaced our underwriting and billing systems and upgraded our online services. The changes were mostly behind-the-scenes, but they set us up to provide even better service for the 68,000 businesses and 1.4 million Texans that count on us for workers’ compensation coverage. These system enhancements were three years in the making and were an important change for us to continue to provide excellent service and products.

A look ahead
As the leading provider of workers’ compensation coverage in the state of Texas, it’s important to us to put our customers first and provide services with this commitment in mind. One way we are doing that is with our new health care network, WorkWell, TX, which is launching January 1, 2018. In WorkWell, TX, Texas Mutual will contract directly with providers, allowing us to select only those who offer the highest quality care and are focused on helping injured workers return to a productive life.

TXM 2017 holiday image

Texas Mutual wishes you a happy holiday season and great year ahead.

Thank you to each and every one of our policyholders and agents, who help contribute to our success and our mission to build a stronger, safer Texas. We look forward to our ongoing partnership and shared success in 2018.

Regulatory Roundup, December 8

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

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

What to do after an OSHA citation

The Business Journals released an article outlining the three things you need to do after receiving a citation from OSHA. The article explains proper procedures for posting a copy of each citation, carefully reviewing each citation and its associated penalty, and then working on abatement…MORE

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Proposed respirator leakage standards rule withdrawn

Due to evidence provided during the public comment period, NIOSH withdrew a notice of proposed rulemaking that would have established standards for total inward leakage of half-mask air-purifying particulate respirators. Stakeholder input said that the requirements might not improve performance of NIOSH-approved respirators and could remove well-performing respirators. There was also concern that the cost could outweigh any benefits. NIOSH has decided to pursue improvements through developing national and international consensus standards instead…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

Graphics available on transportation fatalities

The National Transportation Safety Board revealed that 39,339 people died in transportation accidents in 2016 – 2,030 more than in 2015. Highway, marine and railroad sectors saw increases, while aviation saw a slight decline. The board released charts showing a breakdown for each mode…MORE

Tips for preventing a cold and the flu

Each year, about one billion colds are caught and five to 20 percent of the U.S. population catches the flu. The National Safety Council provided a 5-minute safety document containing tips on staying healthy, symptoms of the flu and  colds, as well as how to stop the spread of germs if you do become ill…MORE

Tips for warehouse safety

Fatality, injury and illness rates for warehouse workers are above the national average for other industries. The EHS Daily Advisor released an article detailing the most common injuries and hazards in warehouses, including forklift accident, unsafe lifting, slips and falls and struck-by injuries. The article also provides tips on how to prevent them…MORE

More CMV drivers are wearing seatbelts

A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration survey found that 86 percent of commercial truck and bus drivers wore seatbelts in 2016. This statistic is up by 21 percent from 2007 and two percent from 2013. However, the administration is still adamant that the number should reach 100 percent…MORE

Stepping up for family after a workplace accident

More than 500 Texas families lost loved ones to workplace accidents in 2015. This is what drives Texas Mutual to promote safety, so that workplace deaths can be prevented. But if the unthinkable happens and a worker is involved in a catastrophic accident, our commitment extends to their family. It’s one of our most important responsibilities.

One of the ways we support surviving family members is through our scholarship program, which offers scholarships to qualified surviving family members of employees who die from an on-the-job accident.

On April 15, 2013, Morgan Carmichael became one of those whom Texas Mutual supports when her father died in a traffic accident on the job. Watch her story below.

It’s impossible to go back to normal after losing a family member, but it’s our mission to set children and spouses up for success. With a scholarship from Texas Mutual, Morgan is able to go to college without worrying how to pay for her tuition.

Our scholarship program is one of the ways we put our commitment to creating a stronger, safer Texas into action. The Texas Mutual Scholarship Program has distributed $600,390 in college funds to the dependents of catastrophically injured workers since 2001, with more than $85,000 awarded in 2017.

Learn more about our scholarship program on our website and see how to apply. To learn more about how we are making a difference in our great state, visit TXM for Texas.

4,000 newer Texas Mutual policyholders earn dividends

More than 68,000 business owners rely on Texas Mutual to meet the needs of 1.4 million workers every day. We have a responsibility to promote safety and help prevent workplace injuries, and that’s why we recognize the great efforts that many businesses take to keep these workers safe.

One way we recognize our policyholders who share our commitment to safety is through our dividend program. As we announced earlier this year, Texas Mutual distributed a record $260 million in dividends. We recently completed the final phase of the dividend payout by distributing $3 million to 4,000 newer policyholders who are already exhibiting safe workplaces.

Early qualifier dividend recipients are those who haven’t been a Texas Mutual policyholder long enough to qualify for a regular dividend but are implementing safe practices in their businesses. This includes those who have a good loss ratio on their first-year policy with Texas Mutual and have renewed with us during the first half of the year. Early qualifier dividends allow us to reward newer policyholders for their safe habits sooner. Watch the video below to learn more about our dividend program

You can find more than 2,000 safety resources in your Texas Mutual account, exclusive to policyholders, to support the safety culture at your workplace. We offer online training with our new e-Learning, posters, flyers and videos, available in both English and Spanish, to help you keep your workers safe. Workplace accidents can disrupt production and morale, and when you do your part to avoid them, we do our part to take notice.

Policyholders who earn a dividend can use the funds to support their safety programs, or invest it right back in to the bottom line. See how some of our policyholders celebrated their dividends earlier this year. Visit to learn more about our dividend program.

Rebuilding after Harvey with Texas Mutual’s help

The Houston area was devastated by Hurricane Harvey this fall. The disaster was personal for Texas Mutual because it affected our own employees and many of the businesses that contribute to Texas’ economy. In response, we launched a $10 million grant program for policyholders just 10 days after the storm hit.

Policyholders could apply for up to $10,000 each to help with their recovery, and more than 1,100 business owners received a grant. Each one was affected in a different way, but what they all had in common was the drive to rebuild and the help they received along the way.

Kevin Topek Permaculture DesignsKevin Topek, owner of Permaculture Design LLC located in Bellaire, is a perfect example of that. His landscape design and installation company has been in the Houston area for 16 years and focuses on creating natural habitats and ecosystems.

Ninety-five percent of his neighborhood was completely flooded by Hurricane Harvey. The storm brought two feet of water into his business’ sheds. Many tools were damaged from the floodwaters, requiring extensive man hours to repair, while others needed replacement. After the storm subsided, Kevin’s business took in non-paying jobs so he could help his neighbors with disaster cleanup.

Kevin’s insurance agent, Jan Weatherton of Harco Insurance, contacted him and suggested he apply for a Hurricane Harvey relief grant from Texas Mutual. Using his phone’s sluggish hot spot to connect to the internet on his computer, Kevin detailed the damage his business had suffered: gasoline power tools and lawn mowers were submerged, organic fertilizer and pest control materials were waterlogged and ruined, and dozens of hand tools that were exposed to water became rusty, unusable equipment.

Texas Mutual employees worked tirelessly to process the relief grant applications we received and get responses quickly to policyholders. About one week after submitting his application, Kevin received an email notification letting him know he was approved for a grant. In his words, the response left him “gobsmacked.” He was completely stunned. The check arrived just three days later, giving him the means to start rebuilding his business. Kevin was able to quickly process paychecks for his two employees and put the remaining funds back into his business to help ease the burden during recovery.

In Texas, it is not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, but for Kevin, “it’s the right thing to do and I can’t imagine not doing it.” After receiving the grant funds, Kevin expressed his appreciation for Texas Mutual for helping to keep his business afloat in a challenging time.

“They have my loyalty as long as I’m in business in Texas,” he said.

Regulatory Roundup, December 1

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

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Two-week extension provided for electronic reporting

OSHA has announced a two-week deadline extension for employers to electronically submit their injury and illness data because of website downtime in August. Affected employers must submit their data by Dec. 15…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

Safety Training Evaluation Process (STEP) improves safety performance by 87 percent

The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) announced that its safety benchmarking and improvement tool led to as much as an 87 percent reduction in total recordable injury rates for participating businesses. The Safety Training Evaluation Process (STEP) gives employers a roadmap using six specific leading indicators to show how the organization is approaching its safety culture…MORE

Employees report elevated stress during holidays

A recent survey found that 35 percent of people feel more work-related pressure during the holiday season. Balancing holiday events, work obligations and increased workload were highest among the factors causing stress. Surveyed employees said that higher year-end bonuses, more flexible work schedules and more paid vacation would be helpful changes…MORE

Safety and health budgets expected to increase in 2018

A recent international study of environmental health and safety (EHS) directors showed that budgets will increase by about 5.4 percent in 2018 due to investments in technology. Reportedly, the areas of focus will be in technology spending, worker safety, EHS consulting and reducing greenhouse gas emissions…MORE

Tips for working in the cold

Winter weather can bring hazardous conditions for outdoor workers. Three main factors to consider are temperature, wind and moisture. Limiting exposure to cold temperatures can help prevent cold stress, frostbite, hypothermia and trench foot…MORE

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