TAN Board to Pursue Amicus Brief in Unfriendly Nonsubscriber Lawsuit

TAN Board to Pursue Amicus Brief in Unfriendly Nonsubscriber Lawsuit

The board of the Texas Alliance of Nonsubscribers has voted to pursue the filing of an amicus brief in litigation related to the East Texas Medical Center Athens litigation currently pending before the Texas Supreme Court. In the lawsuit, the Tyler Court of Appeals has ruled that a nonsubscribing employer may not designate a responsible third party in a negligence lawsuit brought by an injured worker.

An amicus brief allows interested third parties to express their position on the litigation and to explain how a specific ruling will affect the organization’s members. 

In March, the Texas Supreme Court granted an emergency stay in the case pending its determination of whether it will hear the case.

In filing the amicus brief, TAN hopes to 1) persuade the Texas Supreme Court to hear the case and 2) overturn the appellate court’s ruling to prevent it from becoming the prevailing law in Texas.

The case involves a worker injury to an emergency room nurse employed by the East Texas Medical Center (ETMC). The nurse was injured when an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) hit her in the back with an empty stretcher. The EMT is an employee of the ETMC Emergency Medical Service (EMS), a separate company from ETMC. ETMC filed a motion designating EMS as a responsible third party. The motion was denied by the district court and the Tyler Court of Appeals. The appellate court held that a negligence claim against the nonsubscriber was an attempt to collect workers’ compensation, which prohibits the designation of a third party as comparatively responsible. 

To file the amicus brief, the TAN board is seeking contributions to help fund the legal work. If your company is interested in supporting the organization’s efforts, please email Tim Conger (tim.conger@bravarro.com).

Ruan Transportation Is TAN’s Newest Member

Ruan Transportation has joined TAN. Steve Schaal, general counsel and vice president for Ruan, led the company’s consideration of joining the organization. Before joining Ruan, Schaal previously served on the TAN Board of Directors during his tenure at another member of the organization. 

Ruan, headquartered in Des Moines, is a family-owned logistics provider with employees in multiple states, including Texas. The company’s founder, John Ruan, prioritized safety, making Ruan the first transportation company in America to have a formal safety program. Not only did Mr. Ruan view safety as a moral imperative for the well-being of his employees, he viewed it as a competitive advantage over his competition. 

In 1997, the American Trucking Association’s Ruan Transportation Center building was dedicated in Washington, D.C., honoring Mr. Ruan’s more than 60 years of service to the transportation industry. Mr. Ruan passed away in 2010 at the age of 96. 

TAN welcomes Ruan Transportation to the organization.

OSHA Issues New Guidelines for Hazard Safety Information

The Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA) has issued new rules that will increase the amount and size of hazard safety information on labels and safety data sheets, effective July 19, 2024.

The updates to the current Hazard Communication Standard are intended to better protect workers and allow workers and first responders to react more quickly in an emergency.

The updated standard more closely aligns with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). It will require labels on small packaging to be more comprehensive and readable and makes changes to help ensure trade secrets no longer prevent workers and first responders from receiving critical hazard information on safety data sheets. 

Other changes to the new standard include a clearer hazard classification process to provide more complete and accurate hazard information on labels and safety data sheets; updated physical hazard classes to better inform users on safe handling of explosives, aerosols and chemicals under pressure; and updated precautionary statements on how to safely handle, store and dispose of hazardous chemicals.

Established in 1983, the Hazard Communication Standard provides a standardized approach to workplace hazard communications associated with exposure to hazardous chemicals. OSHA updated the standard in 2012 to align with the third revision of the GHS to provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information.

The new standard is available here.

Employee Burnout Has Dropped But Remains High

Employee burnout has dropped substantially since the early days of the pandemic (58% in August 2020) but remains stubbornly high, according to a recent survey from Eagle Hill Consulting.

According to the survey, 45% of U.S. employees surveyed report being burned out at work. Women (49%) continue to report higher levels of burnout than men (41%). Younger workers continue to report the highest levels of burnout, with Gen Z at 54% and millennials at 52%.

Workers who experience burnout say the top cause is their workload (51%), followed by staff shortages (42%) and juggling personal and professional life (41%).

Among those who experience burnout due to staff shortages, 83% said the impact is covering the workload for unfilled positions. Forty-six percent said the impact is helping others learn their job, 41% said it’s training new hires, and 22% said it’s recruiting and interviewing new hires. 

About half of employees (56%) who report burnout say they are comfortable telling their boss.  

When asked what would help reduce burnout, 69% of workers said a four-day workweek would help. Other solutions included increased flexibility (66%), decreased workload (63%), better health and wellness benefits (60%), working from home (56%), reduced administrative burdens (53%), more on-site amenities (50%), and the ability to relocate or work from multiple locations (40%).

These findings are from the 2024 Eagle Hill Consulting Workforce Burnout Survey conducted by Ipsos from Feb. 6-9, 2024. The survey included 1,247 respondents from a random sample of employees across the United States. Eagle Hill conducts the polling two times annually to maintain a pulse on worker burnout.

More survey results are available here.

Survey: Being Connected to Co-Workers Is Good for Mental Health and Longevity in Workplace

A new survey suggests people still feel connected at work despite the prevalence of hybrid and remote work environments and the rise of artificial intelligence. According to the latest Wiley Workplace Intelligence report, 78% of employees surveyed said they feel connected with their co-workers, and 69% said they also enjoy making connections with their colleagues. Around half even said they want to learn more about their co-workers by doing a team-building activity.

The report is based on surveys completed by 2,008 individuals in North America, from individual contributors to executive leaders. In it, 59% of respondents said that not having friends at work was a factor in deciding to stay at a company.

True friendships in the workplace contribute to improved mental health, as they can act as support networks during challenging times, provide a sense of belonging, and alleviate stress through shared experiences and understanding. According to the survey, 64% of respondents said they have at least one friend at the office.

It can be difficult to know where to start improving connection at work, especially in hybrid or remote environments. In the “old” days, it was easy to order a few pizzas and gather everyone in a conference room for some ice breakers, but how does that translate to the digital age? 

While that kind of forced socialization can be a groan-inducing part of work life, depending on how it is executed, half of the respondents (51%) reported that they want to learn more about their co-workers by doing a team-building activity. Some 73% said they enjoy team-building activities. 

More information about the survey is available here.

Workers Weigh in on Their Approach to PTO

Most American workers (83%) are satisfied with their company’s paid time off/vacation policy, although nearly half (49%) get nervous when requesting time off from their employer and 28% report playing hooky, according to a recent survey from The Harris Poll.

The survey found that 78% of workers do not use the maximum amount of paid time off allowed by their employer. The average American worker took 15 paid days off in 2023, despite half (49%) being allowed more than that by their employer.

Barriers most often cited by workers preventing them from taking more time off are pressure to always be available and responsive to demands (31%) and heavy workload (30%).

Although 62% of the American workforce say “being ‘out of office’ means absolutely no working,” nearly the same amount (60%) admit that they struggle to “fully disconnect” when they take their time off.

Most American workers (86%) say they would check emails from their boss while on paid time off/vacation, and more than half (56%) have taken work-related calls during their time off.

Guilt and anticipatory angst rule their vacation days: Two-thirds (66%) of American workers dread the backlog of work awaiting their return, with nearly half (47%) feeling guilty when taking their time off.

According to the survey, 31% reported having moved their mouse to keep their status active on their company messaging system. Three out of 10 workers (30%) report having scheduled messages to send outside of work hours to create the impression they are working.

The survey is available here.

Workers Say Psychological Safety in the Workplace Matters

American workers are generally satisfied with their jobs and feel good about their performance and productivity, but that is more likely in workplaces that foster “psychological safety,” according to the American Psychological Association (APA) 2024 Work in America report. Conversely, workers who experience lower psychological safety are more likely to worry about job security because of their age and feel more comfortable working with their own age group than others, even as a rising retirement age leads to more intergenerational workforces.

Psychological safety refers to a workplace climate in which workers are comfortable expressing themselves and believe they can take appropriate interpersonal risks. Workers who experience higher levels of psychological safety are more likely than workers experiencing lower levels of psychological safety to say they feel like they belong (95% vs. 69%) and that they feel comfortable being themselves in the workplace (95% vs. 75%). They were also 10 times less likely to say their workplace is very or somewhat toxic than workers who experience lower levels of psychological safety (3% vs. 30%).

According to the survey, those experiencing higher psychological safety were more likely to report satisfaction with:

  • Their relationships with co-workers.
  • Their relationships with managers or supervisors.
  • The policies in place to promote equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • Their work schedules.

The online survey was conducted by The Harris Poll in the United States on behalf of APA between March 25 and April 3, 2024, among more than 2,000 employed adults. It is available here.

Report Examines Intersection of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and MSDs

Workers of color have more work-related injuries and illnesses than their white counterparts, yet Black and Hispanic workers report the most unease about reporting unsafe work conditions when compared to other racial and ethnic groups, according to a report from the National Safety Council.

The report, “The Intersection of DEI and MSDs: Ensuring Equitable Outcomes,” says workers of color may perceive their voices and opinions as less valued than the majority group and therefore report the most unease about reporting unsafe work conditions when compared to other racial and ethnic groups. 

Other key findings include:

  • Work organization: Demanding work schedules can increase the risk of MSDs due to less time for adequate sleep and recovery from work, longer exposure to hazards and demands at work, and less time to attend to nonwork responsibilities.
  • Workplace and equipment design: PPE has also traditionally been designed to fit the average white male and, as a result, females in the workforce are often not provided with properly fitting gear.
  • Safety culture: Workplaces that do not offer benefits, such as paid sick leave and long-term disability, may create an unsafe culture in which employees feel insecure about taking necessary time off when they have suffered a workplace injury. Clear and accessible policies and procedures are vital to ensuring organizations are equitably protecting all workers from safety risks.
  • Psychological safety: Employee well-being at work is significantly influenced by a sense of belonging to the organization or team, with managers showing appreciation for their employees and involving them in decision-making.
  • Psychosocial risk factors: Common psychosocial risk factors are job stress; lack of job control or autonomy; job dissatisfaction; time pressure; and poor organizational, supervisor or co-worker support. Occupational stress has been shown to increase MSDs, with role conflict and lack of job control leading to wrist, hand, shoulder and lower back issues.

The report is available here.

Study Highlights Status of Recruiting Challenges

Despite a tight U.S. labor market, a new survey reveals that the recruiting and retainment challenges facing businesses have eased.

Some 83% of HR leaders cited difficulty recruiting workers at the height of the Great Resignation in 2022, compared to 55% now, according to The Conference Board survey. Retaining workers is also becoming less challenging: Only 41% of HR leaders report difficulty retaining workers compared to a high of 66% in 2022.

The survey found a clear link between retention challenges and work arrangements: Only 15% of HR leaders at organizations that allow employees to choose where they work reported it was difficult to retain workers. That’s compared to 45% of HR leaders who expressed difficulty retaining workers at organizations where on-site work is mandated.

This survey of 216 U.S. human resource executives was conducted from March 17 through April 8, 2024. It is the sixth survey in the Reimagined Workplace series. Insights from the survey include:

  • Organizations reporting difficulty finding qualified workers: The number of in-office workers fell 37 percentage points, from its high of 84% in 2022 to 47% in 2024.
  • However, organizations still report difficulty finding qualified manual workers: Organizations reporting difficulty hiring manual workers fell 23 percentage points, from its high of 88% in 2023 to 65% in 2024.
  • The percentage of organizations reporting difficulty retaining professional and office workers fell to 37% in 2024, compared to 64% in 2022. Similarly, the percentage of organizations reporting difficulty retaining industrial and manual workers fell to 47% in 2022, from 73% in 2024.
  • Some 45% of HR leaders express difficulty retaining workers if on-site work is mandated by an organization. When on-site work is strongly encouraged, HR leaders experience a similar level of difficulty (44%) retaining workers.
  • When organizations allow employees to choose where they work, only 15% of HR leaders reported difficulty retaining workers.

Information about how to download the report is available here.

The Impact of Online Misconduct in the Workplace

A new survey from Fama Technologies finds more than 10% of job candidates have engaged in some form of online misconduct.

Fama, which conducts online workplace misconduct screening, says studies have shown a significant negative business impact if just 5% of employees engage in online misconduct. According to Fama Technologies’ State of Misconduct at Work in 2023 report, toxic work culture cost companies $223 billion from turnover in just the past five years.

The report reveals a growing issue of misconduct in the workplace, with eight of the nine industries analyzed failing to meet the standard benchmark. This year’s report also showed a dramatic increase in misconduct behavior online. Of those who engage in misconduct, their online misconduct activity increased by 40% year over year.

Industries with the most misconduct included Consumer Services, Media and Entertainment, and Education. 

Fama Technologies describes workplace misconduct as behavior that violates company policy or the law and harms an organization. The most common forms of misconduct were harassment, sexual misconduct and intolerance. Behaviors range from tardiness to gross misconduct such as threats and violence. Fama Technologies says that just one in 20 workers (5%) engaging in misconduct reduces productivity by 40% and makes team members 54% more likely to leave.

Access the report here.

The Impact of Direct-to-Consumer Pharmaceutical Advertising
By Ron Carter of RxBridge

The pharmaceutical industry in the United States spends approximately $1 billion per month on Direct-to-Consumer Pharmaceutical Advertising (DTCPA). This practice, allowed only in the United States and New Zealand, has significant implications across all lines of health care. 

One of the primary impacts of DTCPA is its influence on prescription patterns. These advertisements often lead to increased patient demand for specific, often expensive, medications. While most DTCPA spending is associated with drugs not typically prescribed for the treatment of injuries, workers’ compensation is not immune.

Quality of Care and Outcomes
While DTCPA can drive up the costs of medications, arguments for its use include improving health outcomes by providing patient education and awareness of conditions and treatments, as well as raising awareness for possible side effects of medications. DTCPA has also helped to lessen the stigma around certain conditions, such as mental illness. 

On the one hand, increased awareness and use of effective medications can lead to better health outcomes, while on the other hand, the pressure to prescribe advertised medications can result in the use of drugs that are not the best fit for the patient’s condition, potentially leading to adverse effects or suboptimal treatment outcomes.

Workers’ Compensation Impact
In 2023, spending across the top 10 pharmaceuticals in DTCPA reached $1.94 billion. While many of the drugs in the top 10 list are used for conditions unrelated to workers’ compensation, such as diabetes, employers may see requests for coverage for some of the medications on the list, as indicated in the table below.

Top Medications Advertised in 2023 With Potential to Be Prescribed to Injured Employees:


Drug Name

Potential Use in Workers’ Compensation

DTCPA Spending in 2023

Approximate Cost of Medication



Immunology drug used to treat multiple conditions, including asthma

$307.2 million 

$4,560 per month (after loading dose)



Used to treat major depressive disorder

$141.2 million 

$1,740 per month



Off-label use for weight loss

$130.3 million

$1,548 per month



Used to treat major depressive disorder

$126.6 million

$1,736 per month



Inhaler for COPD and asthma

$114.4 million

$367 per 28 days

Employers should rely on their pharmacy benefit managers to monitor new medications as they are released and to evaluate each drug for appropriateness for workers’ compensation injuries, reported effectiveness, as well as cost before deciding if they should be allowed on proprietary formularies. It’s also recommended to establish an alert whenever a high-cost medication or a medication not on the formulary is prescribed so that it can be evaluated before being approved.

Direct-to-Consumer Pharmaceutical Advertising can impact workers’ compensation by influencing prescription patterns, increasing medication costs, and affecting claim frequency and duration. While it can enhance awareness and potentially improve health outcomes, the financial burden it imposes requires strategic management and policy interventions to ensure sustainable and effective workers’ compensation programs.

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