OSHA Releases First Data Collected Under New Injury Tracking Guidelines

OSHA Releases First Data Collected Under New Injury Tracking Guidelines

The first set of detailed workplace injury and illness data collected under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OHSA) new regulation for tracking workplace injuries has been released. 

It includes specific information submitted by more than 375,000 establishments on OSHA Form 300A, Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, in 2023 and data on individual injuries and illnesses for employers with 100 or more employees in select high-hazard industries. 

Also included is partial data from more than 850,000 OSHA Form 300, Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, and Form 301, Injury and Illness Incident Report, records. This data includes specific information such as company name, date of injury, type of injury, time away from work, and more. 

OSHA says it is reviewing the remaining data to ensure personally identifiable information about injured workers remains private and that additional data will be made public following this review. 

The Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses regulation was published in July 2023 despite objections from business groups that argued it would make proprietary information available to competitors. OHSA, however, says that providing access to injury and illness data will help identify unsafe conditions and workplace hazards. Additionally, the data will improve research on the occurrence, prevention and control of workplace hazards, injuries and illness types. 

The 2023 summary data and 2023 case detail data are available for download here.

OSHA Releases New Rule Allowing Employee Representative During OSHA Inspections

The U.S. Department of Labor has published a final rule giving employees the right to authorize a representative to accompany an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) compliance officer during an inspection of their workplace. 

The final rule clarifies that workers may authorize another employee to serve as their representative or select a nonemployee. Nonemployee representatives must be reasonably necessary to conduct an effective and thorough inspection, according to the final rule. 

The rule clarifies that a nonemployee representative may be reasonably necessary based upon skills, knowledge or experience. This may include knowledge of or experience with hazards or conditions in the workplace or similar workplaces, or language or communication skills to ensure an effective and thorough inspection. OSHA regulations require no specific qualifications for employer representatives or for employee representatives who are employed by the employer. 

Business groups have said that the rule could put a company’s proprietary information at risk to outsiders, as well as allow a union representative to accompany the inspector, even if the plant is not a union plant. 

The rule is effective on May 31, 2024. The text of the rule is available here 

New Rule Requires Time Off for Pregnancy-Related Medical Conditions

Beginning June 18, employers must allow employees time off and other accommodations for pregnancy-related medical conditions — including abortion — according to the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), finalized April 19. 

The PWFA requires most employers with 15 or more employees to provide “reasonable accommodations” for a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship. The PWFA was enacted in the summer of 2023; however, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces the act, did not publish the final rule containing the regulations until April 19. 

Among the limitations and medical conditions for which employees or applicants may seek reasonable accommodation are miscarriage or still birth; migraines; lactation; and pregnancy-related conditions that are episodic, such as morning sickness. 

While noting the abortion provision is controversial, the EEOC said the law “does not require any employee to have — or not have — an abortion, does not require taxpayers to pay for any abortions, and does not compel health care providers to provide any abortions. Additionally, the PWFA cannot be used to require an employer-sponsored health plan to pay for or cover any item, procedure or treatment, including an abortion. Employees who must travel out of state for an abortion are entitled to unpaid leave, according to the final rule. 

Examples of reasonable accommodations included in the final rule include: 

  • Extra breaks to drink water, eat or use the restroom. 
  • A stool to sit on while working. 
  • Time off for health care appointments. 
  • Temporary reassignment. 
  • Temporary suspension of certain job duties. 
  • Telework. 
  • Time off to recover from childbirth or a miscarriage, among others. 

The final notice is available here 

Comptroller Releases Regional Economic Reports

Texas Comptroller Glen Hegar has released 2024 regional economic reports. The reports are organized by 12 economic regions created by the Comptroller’s Office. Each region has at least one Census Bureau-defined metropolitan statistical area (MSMA), which is an area with relatively high population density and close economic integration. The reports examine statewide economic trends including population, personal income, jobs and wages, and education trends, as well as economic conditions unique to the state and its regions. You may click below for: 

Workers Express Opinions About Return-to-Office Policies

More than three out of four workers surveyed (77%) believe the primary motivation for return-to-office (RTO) policies is so that employers can exert more control over their workers’ activity. However, just 2% of workers surveyed favored full-time on-site work and 36% said there is no perk an employer could offer to get them back in the office full time. 

Most workers surveyed believe RTO policies are about employers having more control over their workforce. Here’s how it breaks down: 

  • 77% believe RTO policies are designed to give employers more control over workers. 
  • 72% say that their employer believes working on-site will improve productivity. 
  • 71% believe the push to RTO is because employers think it will improve communication and collaboration. 
  • 64% believe their employer wants them back in the office because they don’t trust people to do their work remotely. 
  • 42% think companies want to reinstate on-site work to force attrition without the need for severance packages. 
  • 34% say companies demand RTO because leadership wants an excuse not to have to work from home themselves. 

When asked which perks could bring them back to work full time, traditional benefits, like on-site fitness options (28%) and mental health support (28%), captured the attention of less than a third of respondents. Others fared worse. Child care reimbursements (17%), socializing opportunities (19%), and student loan assistance programs (25%) didn’t come close to tipping the scales for most workers. More than a third of respondents (36%) say there is no perk their company could offer to justify a full-time return to the office. 

The perks respondents said could coax them back into the office full time include: 

  • Fuel reimbursement: 50% 
  • Unlimited PTO: 47% 
  • Health insurance: 47% 
  • Free lunches: 45% 
  • A four-day workweek: 41%  
  • A 15% raise: 41%  
  • Learning and development budget: 31% 
  • Financial wellness programs: 30% 
  • Free access to on-site fitness accommodations: 28% 
  • Mental health assistance: 28% 
  • Student loan assistance: 25% 
  • Socializing opportunities with colleagues: 19% 
  • Child care reimbursement: 17% 

The survey was conducted by MyPerfectResume between Feb. 6-19, 2024, with more than 4,200 U.S. respondents. More information is available here.

New Program Available to Support Employers’ Response to Opioid Overdoses

Drug overdoses account for almost 10% of workplace fatalities, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), which recently launched several new initiatives to raise employee awareness of the opioid epidemic and support access to lifesaving resources. 

These include a free e-learning course on opioid overdose. Designed to equip employees with the knowledge and skills needed to respond to a suspected opioid overdose, the course covers the impacts of opioid overdoses in the workplace, signs and symptoms of an overdose, administration of opioid overdose reversal medication, and incorporation of these medications into workplace safety plans. Participants also receive an introduction to hands-only CPR. 

NSC also launched the online Workplace Wellbeing Hub, an interactive resource designed to provide workplaces with educational, implementable and actionable tools to address critical well-being-related causes of impairment, injuries and fatalities, starting with substance use. The hub has four sections, Policies, Benefits, Employee Training, and Data Collection and Analysis, and includes customizable policies, guides for collecting and using data, a benefits checklist to evaluate what services a workplace provides, and more. 

NSC has also partnered with Emergent BioSolutions, the makers of NARCAN Nasal Spray, to increase access to this lifesaving overdose reversal medication. Employers can now purchase the medication in bulk on nsc.org and have it delivered directly to their workplace. 

Distracted Driving Factors Rising

A recent survey from The Travelers Companies finds the behaviors that lead to distracted driving are increasing. 

Its 2024 Travelers Risk Index on distracted driving shows the following behaviors have increased to levels it says were last seen before the pandemic began in 2020: 

  • Updating or checking social media: +13%. 
  • Typing a text or email: +10%. 
  • Talking on a cellphone (hands-free): +10%. 
  • Using a cellphone to record videos/take photos: +9%. 
  • Reading a text or email: +9%. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 40% of worker deaths each year are related to transportation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says motor vehicle crashes cost employers $60 billion annually in medical care, legal expenses, property damage, and lost productivity. It says the average crash costs an employer $16,500. When a worker has an on-the-job crash that results in an injury, the cost to their employer is $74,000. 

To collect the data, Hart Research conducted a national online survey of 1,000 consumers ages 18 to 69 in January 2024 regarding their perceptions and behaviors related to distracted driving. Separately, Hart surveyed 1,050 executives from businesses of all sizes. Travelers commissioned both surveys. 

Of the executives surveyed, 85% – compared to 77% in 2023 – noted being concerned about employees’ use of mobile technology while driving. That increase comes as 68% of executives said they have instituted distracted driving policies, and many have reinforced that guidance by: 

  • Formally communicating about restrictions concerning phone calls, texts and/or emails while driving for work (84%). 
  • Requiring employees to sign an acknowledgment of the policy (66%). 
  • Disciplining employees who do not comply with company policy (77%). 
  • Prohibiting the use of hand-held devices while driving (53%). 

More information about the survey is available here.

Anxiety Now Leading Mental Health Issue for Workers

Anxiety has become the No. 1 mental health issue for U.S. workers, according to data from mental health provider ComPsych. 

ComPsych conducted a representative sample analysis of more than 300,000 U.S. cases facilitated by ComPsych in 2023, and found nearly a quarter (24%) of workers who reached out for mental health assistance did so to get help with anxiety. 

Anxiety now tops depression, stress, partner or relationship issues, family issues, addiction, and grief, among other subjects that people seek help coping with. Yet ComPysch says that as recently as 2017, anxiety wasn’t even in the top five presenting issues for Americans. It did not offer claim details or information about numbers of claims. 

“It’s clear that as a society, we’ve become more anxious in recent years, and for good reason,” said Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz, founder, CEO and chairman of ComPsych. “From the pandemic to ongoing conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine, civil unrest, an unpredictable economy, and increasingly polarized political rhetoric surrounding elections, there is a persistent underlying feeling of apprehension and worry.” 

A separate report from ComPsych earlier this year found mental health-related leaves of absence up 33% in 2023 over 2022, and up 300% from 2017 to 2023.  

Some 69% of mental health-related leaves of absence in 2023 were taken by women, according to ComPsych data. Of those, 33% were taken by Millennial women, while Generation X women accounted for 30%. 

Napping During Work

One in three workers nap every week during work hours, according to a recent survey from Sleep Doctor. Overall, 46% of workers surveyed say they nap during the workday at least a few times a year, with 33% reporting that they nap weekly, 6% daily, 18% several times per week, and 9% once per week.  

According to the survey, remote and hybrid workers are more likely to nap during the workday than in-person workers. On a weekly basis, 34% of remote workers take naps compared to 45% of hybrid workers and 27% of in-person workers.  

Fifty-two percent of men report that they nap at least a few times a year during the workday, versus 38% of women. Additionally, 54% of workers aged 18 to 34 nap during the workday, while 46% of workers ages 35-54 and only 25% of workers over 55 do. 

Of those who nap during the workday, 27% nap for 15 to 29 minutes, 24% for 30 to 59 minutes, and 26% for less than 15 minutes. Additionally, 12% nap for 1 hour, 9% for 2 hours, and 3% for 3 hours or more. 

The most common location for in-person workers to nap is their car (50%). Additionally, 33% nap at their desk, 20% nap in a company-designated napping place, 14% return home, and 9% nap in the bathroom. 

Only 20% have faced consequences for sleeping on the job. Of those who suffered consequences, 62% say they had to check in with their supervisor more often, 56% had their workload changed, 49% needed to sit down with their manager, 24% were suspended, and 17% were fired. 

Reasons workers cited for napping include to reenergize (62%), recover from poor sleep at night (44%), handle long working hours (32%), stress (32%), boredom (11%), and to avoid work (6%). 

This survey was commissioned by Sleep Doctor and conducted online in March by the survey platform Pollfish. Some 1,250 full-time U.S. workers completed the full survey.

Texas News

Austin American-Statesman 
End of an Era: Austin Public Health Changes COVID-19 Reporting Policy 
Austin Public Health is changing the way it reports COVID-19 cases. For four years, the health entity has tracked each case and posted it on an online dashboard. Click here for full article. 

Compliance Corner: Texas Insurance Company Accident Prevention Requirements 
An insurance company writing workers’ compensation insurance in Texas must maintain or provide accident prevention facilities that are adequate to provide accident prevention services required by the nature of its policyholders’ operations. Click here for full article. 

Austin American-Statesman 
OSHA Closes Investigation of Workplace Death at Austin Airport Last Fall; No Fine Issued 
A federal workplace safety investigation after the death of a city of Austin employee at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport last fall concluded with no penalties against a ground services company tied to the accident, authorities confirmed Tuesday. Click here for full article. 

Injury Rates at SpaceX Soar Above Industry Norms 
SpaceX, the world leader in rocket launches, is increasingly coming under scrutiny for its workplace practices. A recent safety review performed by Reuters highlights an upsetting trend at the aerospace company. For the second year in a row, injury rates at SpaceX far exceed the industry average. Click here for full article. 

State News

Ogletree Deakins 
California Considers Workers’ Compensation Heat Illness Presumption for Agricultural Workers
In February 2024, California State Senator Dave Cortese introduced Senate Bill (SB) 1299. The bill would add section 3212.81 to the California Labor Code to establish a workers’ compensation presumption related to heat illness. Click here for full article. 

County of Riverside 
Former Chiropractor Sentenced to More than 54 Years in State Prison for $150 Million Workers’ Compensation Fraud Scheme 
On April 12, 2024, a former chiropractor was sentenced to 54 years, eight months in California state prison and ordered to pay more than $23 million in fines for his role in orchestrating a massive workers’ compensation fraud scheme totaling $150 million. Click here for full article. 

Insurance Journal 
‘It’s in the Mail’ Is Not Good Enough to Protest Workers’ Compensation Claim 
A Connecticut employer lost its right to contest a workers’ compensation claim because although it mailed its notice to the workers’ compensation law judge within the 28 day statutory period, the judge did not receive the notice by the 28th day. Click here for full article. 

Climate & Comp: DeSantis Signs Bill Prohibiting Cities from Enacting Workplace Heat Protections 
On April 18, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation that would prohibit municipalities in that state from implementing strict workplace heat protections. Click here for full article. 

Pepsi Can’t Use Workers’ Comp Immunity in Fla. Shooting Suit 
Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal on Wednesday ruled that a Pepsi subsidiary can’t utilize a workers’ compensation immunity defense in a lawsuit brought by a former employee who was shot by a co-worker. Click here for full article. 

Governor Kelly Signs Workers Compensation Reform Bill 
Governor Laura Kelly today signed Senate Bill 430, bipartisan legislation that comprehensively updates Kansas’ workers compensation system. Click here for full article. 

What Do You Think: Did PTSD from Bodily Fluids Render Hospital Employee Permanently Unable to Work? 
In Louisiana, an employee has the burden of showing that he can no longer work and is thus entitled to permanent total disability benefits. Click here for full article. 

WCCO News 
Former Sheriff Paid for Damaged Guardrail, SUV Using Taxpayer-funded Workers Compensation Settlement 
Minnesota’s Hennepin County reached a settlement last year paying former Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson $240,000. Hutchinson used some of that money to pay for a vehicle and guardrail he destroyed in 2021. Click here for full article. 

Insurance Journal 
Workers’ Comp Apportion Evals Must be Well-Reasoned, WV Supreme Court Says 
West Virginia law, like statutes in a number of states, allows employers to try and apportion contributions to a worker’s injury, including how much a pre-existing condition may have played a role. The employer/insurer holds the burden of proof. Click here for full article. 

Business Insurance 
Employers have Stronger Burden in Disability Claims: West Virginia Court 
A West Virginia Supreme Court decision Monday is poised to affect the way workers compensation disability determinations are made in comp claims. Click here for full article. 

Business Insurance 
Denial of Comp Benefits Over Coal Worker Death Improper: Court 
A West Virginia appellate court on Tuesday reversed a decision of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Board of Review to deny fatal benefits to the dependent of a former coal worker who died from work-related illnesses. Click here for full article. 

WV News 
West Virginia Chief Justice Armstead Issues Dissent to Groundbreaking Workers’ Comp Ruling 
Chief Justice Tim Armstead on Wednesday issued a dissenting opinion to a ruling by his fellow justices that made a major change in workers’ compensation disability determinations. Click here for full article. 

Gov. Evers Signs Worker’s Compensation Agreed-Upon Bill into Law 
Gov. Tony Evers Friday signed Assembly Bill 1073, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 213. The act makes several improvements to Wisconsin’s worker’s compensation system as recommended by the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC). Click here for full article. 

General News

Alcohol and Drug Foundation 
Alcohol, Drugs and Workplace Safety 
One in 20 Australian workers have admitted to working under the influence of alcohol at some point in their career, and one in 50 have used other drugs in the workplace. Click here for full article. 

Business Insurance 
Study Tracks Rapid Comp Indemnity Growth Post-pandemic 
Indemnity benefits per workers compensation claim grew at a “rapid” pace of 6% or more in 2022 in 16 out of 17 states analyzed by the Workers Compensation Research Institute, which said data prior to 2021 showed little change. Click here for full article. 

Workers Compensation Insurance: Cost Breakdown And Key Factors 
Workers compensation insurance pays for medical care, lost wages and other benefits should an employee get hurt or sick on the job. It is an important insurance coverage and one that is required of businesses in most states. Click here for full article. 

International Labour Organization 
Climate Change Creates a ‘Cocktail’ of Serious Health Hazards for 70 Percent of the World’s Workers 
A “staggering” number of workers, amounting to more than 70 per cent of the global workforce, are likely to be exposed to climate-change-related health hazards, and existing occupational safety and health (OSH) protections are struggling to keep up with the resulting risks, according to a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO). Click here for full article. 

The Korea Times 
Korea Urged to Stop Holding CEOs Liable for Workplace Accidents 
The government will continue to pursue regulatory reforms and thoroughly review policy suggestions that the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AMCHAM) sent to President Yoon Suk Yeol in February, in order to convince multinational companies to relocate their Asia-Pacific headquarters to Korea from Singapore and Hong Kong, the trade minister said Tuesday. Click here for full article. 

PR Newswire 
The Hanover Reveals Results of its 2024 Small Business Risk Report: A Focus on Workers’ Compensation 
With workers’ compensation being a key component of every small business’ insurance program, The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. (NYSE: THG), a leading property and casualty insurance company, today released its 2024 Small Business Risk Report: A Focus on Workers’ Compensation. Click here for full article. 

Property Casualty 360 
How Small Businesses View Workers’ Compensation Insurance 
Almost 70% of small business owners have faced a workers’ compensation insurance claim in the past five years, according to The Hanover’s 2024 Small Business Risk Report: A Focus on Workers’ Compensation. Click here for full article. 

Safety + Health 
WCRI Study: Injured Workers Face Greater Psychosocial Risks During Recovery 
Injured workers are more likely to experience psychosocial risk factors that can lead to “poorer functional recovery,” according to a recent study from the Workers Compensation Research Institute. Click here for full article. 

Reports Link ‘Havana Syndrome’ to Russia 
Despite an intelligence community assessment that so called “Havana Syndrome” is due to a foreign adversary, new media investigations link the health issues affecting U.S. diplomats to Russian assassination groups. Click here for full article. 

Travelers Injury Impact Report Details Most Frequent Workplace Accidents 
The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV), the country’s largest workers compensation carrier, today released its Injury Impact Report, which identifies the most common causes of workplace accidents and injuries. Click here for full article. 

As Recommendations for Isolation End, How Common is Long COVID? 
In March 2024, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its recommendations for how people can protect themselves and their communities from respiratory viruses, including COVID-19. Click here for full article. 

Scientific American 
Paxlovid COVID Treatment Is Most Beneficial for Unvaccinated People with Risk Factors. Others May Not Need It 
The novel antiviral drug Paxlovid swiftly entered the U.S. pharmaceutical market in late 2021 as an emergency treatment for people who were vulnerable to severe COVID complications. Click here for full article. 

Medical Xpress 
Study Suggests Staying Current with COVID-19 Vaccinations Helps Combat Emerging Variants 
New research using live SARS-CoV-2 virus reveals an updated vaccine provides a strong immune response against previous strains and emerging variants. Click here for full article. 

U.S. News & World Report 
Study: COVID-19 Vaccine Not Linked to Sudden Cardiac Death Among Young People 
The COVID-19 vaccine is not linked to sudden cardiac death among previously healthy young people, according to a new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Click here for full article. 

$10 Billion Long COVID ‘Moonshot’ is Being Floated by Bernie Sanders 
Bernie Sanders is pushing for a long Covid “moonshot.” He released a draft legislative proposal this week, a follow up to a milestone hearing in January that sounded the alarm on long Covid as a pressing public health crisis. Click here for full article. 

Nearly $100 Billion in COVID Relief Money Remains Unspent 
Nearly $100 billion of money allocated to help state and local governments through the COVID-19 pandemic remains unspent. That’s the conclusion of a report published this week by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Click here for full article. 

Updated Guidance Regarding COVID-19 Safe Federal Workplace: Agency Model Safety Principles and COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plans 
The President has issued the Executive Order of April 12, 2024, on COVID-19 and Public Health Preparedness and Response (E.O. of April 12, 2024), which revoked E.O. 13991 of January 20, 2021, on Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask Wearing. E.O. 13991 had established the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force). Click here for full article.