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.


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 texasmutual.com

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 worksafetexas.com/wellness for tips on getting started, and watch for 10 tips for a healthier workplace on the blog next week.


Apply for a Texas Mutual safety or wellness grant

Safety and wellness programs are proving their value in the workplace, and as a business owner, your employees are looking to you. At Texas Mutual, we want to make it easier for you to invest in safety and wellness, and our new safety and wellness grants do just that. This opportunity is exclusively for our Texas Mutual policyholders, and we encourage you to apply by July 21 for the best chance at receiving a grant. These programs are designed to help make your business a healthier, safer place to work. See the details below on how you can get funding to buy safety equipment or start a wellness program in your workplace.

Start a wellness program with a wellness grantdumbbell and apple with measuring tape

Healthier employees save you money on workers’ comp claims, health care costs, missed work days and so much more. Wellness grant recipients will get a one-year workplace wellness program, which includes health screenings for employees, ongoing support, wellness challenge ideas, helpful webinars and more. A program like this could transform the health of your employees. Click here for more information on the wellness grants.

Get new safety equipment with a safety grantProtective clothes

Safety grant recipients will receive reimbursement of up to $1,500 for the purchase of ergonomic, safety or industrial hygiene equipment to reduce and prevent workplace injuries. If you are awarded a safety grant, you’ll have 60 days to purchase the equipment and submit a form for reimbursement. Click here for more information on the safety grants.

How to apply

You could be one of the hundreds of policyholders awarded through our Safety and Wellness Grant Program. If you are ready to apply, log in to texasmutual.com and click the Safety menu option. Then, click the orange Safety and Wellness Grants button. See the steps below for more information.

Applying for Safety and Wellness Grants

If you have any questions, feel free to contact our Safety Services Support Center at 844-WORKSAFE (967-5723). We look forward to seeing the health and safety improvements this program will bring to Texas businesses.

Top three tips to make safety a habit

Workplace safety is a year-round endeavor but periodic reminders of just how important it is can be a great motivator to refresh or refocus your safety efforts. This week is one of those occasions as it marks North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) week, May 7-13. This year’s NAOSH theme is “Make Safety a Habit,” which is the most effective ways to prevent workplace accidents. To start making safety a habit in your business, and among employees, take a look at our top three tips.

Safety First Sticky NoteTip 1: See something, say something.

To help build a safety culture in your workplace, empower your employees to speak up. Instill the motto “See something, say something” and review the methods in place to report concerns. Building an environment of open communication supports a safe workplace so that employees feel comfortable speaking up about unsafe practices and potential safety hazards.

It should become a habit to immediately report unsafe practices or conditions, and that starts with you. All too often, safety practices can still get overlooked even when open communication is welcomed. As an employer, it takes united leadership to begin the conversation. To embrace the “See something, say something culture,” make sure your employees know when and how to report concerns, then address the issue and show appreciation that it was brought to your attention. Encourage employees to speak directly with their supervisor, but also provide resources to report to HR or to do so anonymously.

Tip 2: Be consistent.

To keep safety top of mind, hold regular meetings. It’s important to provide consistent training to give newer employees the resources they need to be safe on the job and also avoid complacency with seasoned employees with a refresher.

Also remember that habits won’t become fully formed in a quarterly meeting.  While it’s easy to cross a mandatory safety meeting off the list and wait until the next one is due, provide resources outside of the regular meetings and enforce the safety practices you are teaching. Keep your content fresh with safety resources from Texas Mutual. We offer more than 2,000 free materials and tools for policyholders, including our new e-Learning online training program, streaming videos, interactive tools, and downloadable safety programs at texasmutual.com. Even those who aren’t policyholders can take advantage of free Texas Mutual resources at worksafetexas.com.

Tip 3: Encourage wellness.

Safety and wellness go hand-in-hand. Think of the last time you weren’t feeling well at work or didn’t get enough sleep the night before. More than likely you were not on your A-game. Taking care of our bodies by drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet, and staying active paves the way for happier employees and sets up employees to stay alert about safety on the job. In the unfortunate event an employee is injured, a healthy lifestyle also promotes a quicker recovery. Learn about the financial benefits of workplace wellness here: worksafetexas.com/wellness.

From empowering your employees to speak up with a “See something, say something” initiative, to being consistent in your training, and encouraging your employees to live a healthy lifestyle, making safety a habit starts with you. For more safety and wellness resources, log into texasmutual.com or visit worksafetexas.com.

Prevent Heart Disease with Life’s Simple 7

There’s something about a bright-orange sunrise that can motivate even the most industrious among us to stop what we’re doing and simply soak up nature’s splendor. Dan Merritt is no exception, but he’s come to appreciate sunrises as much for their promise as their beauty.

“I love sunrises because they say, “Hey, you made it to another day.’”

Not that long ago, Dan wasn’t sure he’d live to see another sunrise.

Maintaining a healthy weight is critical in preventing heart disease. This 1-minute video offers five tips for making smart choices when eating out.

“We threw a Halloween party for my grandchildren,” remembered Dan. “I was sitting there drinking a glass of punch, and I noticed I was drooling down the side of my face.”

Dan couldn’t talk, but his frantic motioning told Barbara, his wife of 43 years, something wasn’t right.

At the hospital, doctors discovered Dan had suffered his second stroke of the day. As is often the case, the symptoms of the first stroke subsided quickly, so Dan ignored them.

Doctors couldn’t definitively diagnose Dan’s strokes that day, but they suspected an irregular heart rhythm. When he suffered a third stroke months later, they implanted a cardiac monitor and uncovered the cause: atrial fibrillation.

Dan’s doctors immediately adjusted his medication, and he’s been stroke-free ever since.

You don’t emerge from a serious health scare like a stroke without learning a few things. Dan is eager to share one simple piece of advice with all of us.

“Pay attention to your body. It’s always trying to tell you something. It could be things you’re doing great or things are going a little off kilter.”

Heart disease by the numbers

Strokes, heart attacks and heart failure are just a few conditions that fall under the cardiovascular disease umbrella. Collectively, these conditions represent the leading global cause of fatalities, claiming 17.3 million lives per year.

Here are some other eye-opening statistics about heart disease, courtesy of the American Heart Association:

  • Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined.
  • Someone in the U.S. dies from heart disease about once every 84 seconds.
  • About one in every three U.S. adults reports participating in no leisure time physical activity.
  • About 69 percent of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese.
  • Worldwide, tobacco smoking (including secondhand smoke) was one of the top three leading risk factors for disease, contributing to an estimated 6.2 million deaths in 2010.

Heart-healthy tips

Dan’s advice is consistent with the American Heart Association’s (AHA)proactive approach to preventing heart disease. Here are some more heart-healthy tips we can all follow every day:

Learn the signs: Heart attacks, cardiac arrest and strokes are life-threatening emergencies, so every second counts. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you experience any of the warning signs.

Follow Life’s Simple 7: The AHA recommends seven easy-to-embrace tips for reducing your risk of heart disease. Life’s Simple 7 include getting active, controlling your cholesterol, eating better, managing your blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing your blood sugar and giving up smoking.

Know your heart score: AHA medical experts designed the My Life Check tool to help you assess your heart health and move closer to your personal health goals. Simply provide some basic information about yourself, answer seven questions and get your heart score.

Focus on workplace wellness: We spend most of our waking hours at work. If we want to follow Life’s Simple 7, we have to learn to do it on the job, as well as at home. Employers can help by offering a workplace wellness program. The AHA offers a free suite of evidence-based tools to help you get the most out of your program.

Life is why

austin-mhml-lockupThe AHA is on a mission to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent and reduce deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent, by the year 2020.

In support of that mission, the AHA will host its annual Heart Walk fundraiser on Saturday, October 15. Approximately 1 million people in 300 cities across the country will participate. In fact, Texas Mutual will be well-represented at the Austin event, and we hope you will join us.

Flu Season is Serious Business for Employers

Click here for a one-minute podcast on preventing the flu, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Click here for a one-minute podcast on preventing the flu, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Have you used an office phone, had a face-to-face conversation or inhaled today? If so, you could be one of the estimated 62 million Americans who will catch the flu this year.

Each flu season, Americans miss nearly 111 million workdays. That equals approximately $7 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity.

Flu season starts in the fall and peaks in January and February. Texas Mutual encourages employers to promote these everyday preventive measures among their employees:

  1. Get a flu shot. Experts agree that getting a flu shot is the most effective thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone who is six months old or older get vaccinated, especially those in a high-risk group. Many pharmacies, clinics and community centers offer free or low-cost flu shots.
  2. Learn how the flu spreads. Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with the flu virus on it, and then touch their mouth, eyes or nose.
  3. Each flu season, Americans miss nearly 111 million workdays. That equals approximately $7 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity.
  4. Wash your hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. And avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. That is how germs spread.
  5. Get some space. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  6. Take care of yourself. Employee wellness and safety are inseparable. Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat healthy food.
  7. Keep coughs and sneezes to yourself. Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. If you use a tissue, immediately throw it in the trash.
  8. Learn the symptoms of the flu. Symptoms can include coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and chills. It is important to note, however, that not everyone who has the flu will experience fever.
  9. Know what to do if you get sick. If you suspect you have the flu, the CDC recommends you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, without the use of fever-reducing medications, except to seek medical care. It is important to see your doctor as soon as possible because the flu can exacerbate chronic medical conditions. It can also lead to other illnesses, such as bacterial pneumonia and ear infections.
  10. Get more information. Free resources for protecting yourself, your family and your co-workers are available from the American Red Cross, CDC, flu.gov and texasflu.org.
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