Texas Workplace Injuries Declining While U.S. Injuries on the Rise
Texas private industry employers reported 178,800 total recordable nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses for 2022, a slight drop from 178,900 in 2021, according to the most recent data from the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation. This represents an incidence rate of 1.9 cases per 100 full-time-equivalent workers in Texas, down from 2.1 in 2021 and the lowest rate in 10 years. The national rate is 2.7.
U.S. nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses, however, increased 7.5% in 2022, according to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Nationally, private industry employers reported nearly 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2022.
In Texas, TDI data indicate there were 112,000 recordable nonfatal injuries or illnesses reported in 2022 that required either days away from work (DAFW) or days with job restriction or transfer (DJRT). That compares to 113,000 incidences in 2021.
The DAFW and DJRT national data are reported by BLS in two-year increments, making it impossible to compare Texas 2022 rates with national 2022 rates. However, over the two-year 2021-2022 period, BLS reported 2.2 million cases involving DAFW. Over the same period, there were 1.1 million cases involving DJTR.
More information about Texas nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses is available here.
More information about the national numbers is available here.
OSHA’s Top Safety Violations
Inadequate fall protection was the most often cited safety violation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) during fiscal year 2023, according to preliminary data from the safety agency. It is the 13th consecutive year that inadequate fall protection was the most often cited violation.
Respiratory protection safety violations, which had jumped to the third most often cited violation in 2022, in part because of COVID-19 concerns, dropped to the seventh spot in the 2023 ranking.
OSHA’s top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety standards for FY 2023, which ended Sept. 30, are:
- Fall protection — general requirements (1926.501): 7,271 violations.
- Hazard communication (1910.1200): 3,213 violations.
- Ladders (1926.1053): 2,978 violations.
- Scaffolding (1926.451): 2,859 violations.
- Powered industrial trucks (1910.178): 2,561 violations.
- Lockout/tagout (1910.147): 2,554 violations.
- Respiratory protection (1910.134): 2,481 violations.
- Fall protection — training requirements (1926.503): 2,112 violations.
- Personal protective and lifesaving equipment — eye and face protection (1926.102): 2,074 violations.
- Machine guarding (1910.212): 1,644 violations.
Managing At-Home Work-Related Injuries
Nearly one in three (30%) U.S. workers now work from home at least some of the time, creating new challenges for risk managers. What happens when an employee is injured at home? The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees, regardless of whether they work in a traditional office or remotely. Can employers mitigate litigation risks for work-at-home employees?
According to Woodruff Sawyer, one of the largest insurance brokerage and consulting firms in the United States, the two most frequent categories of injuries that claims examiners see with work-from-home employers are cumulative injuries (repetitive stress, usually resulting from poor ergonomics) and slips, trips and falls.
OSHA recommends employers provide information to employees on the proper setup of home workstations, including guidance on chair and desk ergonomics and promoting regular breaks and stretching exercises to prevent musculoskeletal disorders.
Woodruff Sawyer recommends adopting a work-at-home agreement with employees that identifies the employee’s work schedule, expected availability during business hours, and designated work area. The agreement should include details of the required frequency of communications, what employees are responsible for purchasing and maintaining, and instructions on how to request equipment or ergonomic evaluations. Additionally, the agreement should advise the employee of the requirement to report all personal injuries, including details around whom they should contact and where they should go for treatment.
Employers are advised to keep injury and illness records even if the events occur in an employee’s home.
According to OSHA, remote workers can report work-related injuries and illnesses just like on-site workers. However, for an injury at home to be considered work-related, it must have met the following:
- Occurred while the employee was being paid to work.
- Directly related to the employee’s work duties.
Workers Weigh in on Workplace Flexibility
Only 31% of U.S. workers say someone in their organization has asked for their input on remote and hybrid work preferences, according to a new nationwide poll. Nearly half of workers (49%) prefer an employer that offers remote and hybrid work flexibility, up from 43% six months ago.
According to the poll conducted by Eagle Hill Consulting, 47% of workers say they would consider looking for a new job should their employer reduce remote and hybrid work flexibility. Remote work flexibility remains substantially more important to younger workers. Sixty percent of Gen Z and 61% of Millennial employees indicate they would look for other employment if remote flexibility were scaled back, with Baby Boomers at 30%.
When given the choice between either coming to the workplace or doing remote work, 56% would choose the workplace over remote (44%). Employee concerns about increasing in-person work requirements include work-life balance (43%), higher costs (34%), stress (34%), and commute times (33%).
A large share of workers (61%) say those who work more in the office rather than remotely are more likely to be successful in their jobs. When asked about the upsides of in-person work, employees say it’s more socialization (41%), improved collaboration (30%), the ability to leave work at work (29%), and increased productivity (29%).
The survey was conducted by Ipsos from Oct. 11-16, 2023. The survey included 1,350 respondents from a random sample of employees across the United States.
More information about the survey is available here.
NLRB Changes Definition of “Joint Employer,” Business Groups Sue
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has again changed its definition of a “joint employer” and will return to the language it used prior to 2020.
In a final rule published Oct. 27, NLRB announced it will return to its previous definition of a joint employer: when two or more entities “share or codetermine” one or more of an employee’s essential terms and conditions of employment.
The rule was immediately challenged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of business groups, which sued the NLRB for violating the National Labor Relations Act and for acting arbitrarily and capriciously in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. Co-plaintiffs with the chamber include the American Hotel and Lodging Association, Associated Builders and Contractors, Associated General Contractors of America, Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, International Franchise Association, Longview Chamber of Commerce, National Retail Federation, National Association of Convenience Stores, Restaurant Law Center, Texas Association of Business, and Texas Restaurant Association. The suit was filed Nov. 9 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
The new rule says essential terms and conditions for the purpose of determining joint employers include the following:
- Worker safety and health
- Wages, benefits and other compensation
- Hours of work and scheduling
- Assignment of duties to be performed
- Supervision of the performance of duties
- Work rules and directions governing the manner, means and methods of the performance of duties and the grounds for discipline
- Tenure of employment, including hiring and discharge
The final rule replaces one adopted in 2020 when the NLRB was under Republican leadership and imposed a stricter test for determining joint employers.
The rule is effective Dec. 26 and affects only cases after that date. NLRB will continue to determine joint employer status on a case-by-case basis.
The new rule is available here.
The business coalition suit is available here.
Survey Provides Peek at Employee Work Arrangement Preferences for 2024
The novelty of a new job is no longer enough to ensure that newer employees stay engaged for the first six months, according to a new study that found 39% of employees who have been with a company for less than six months plan to leave within the next 12 months. New hires show lower levels of engagement, well-being, and inclusion compared with more tenured employees, according to the survey.
Other key findings in Qualtrics’ 2024 Employee Experience Trends Report include:
- Working some of the time from the office is better than none — unless it’s five days a week.
- Employees are comfortable sharing work emails and chats for an improved employee experience, but more ambivalent about social media posts being used.
- Frontline employees are unhappy, poorly supported and least trusting.
For the report, Qualtrics asked nearly 37,000 employees in 32 countries about the state of work.
The report found employees in hybrid working arrangements have higher levels of engagement, intent to stay, and feelings of well-being and inclusion in comparison to employees who work full-time in the office. Workers in hybrid settings also have higher scores than employees who are fully remote and don’t spend any time in the office.
Some 70% of workers are comfortable with their organization using email data to better understand and improve their experience at work. They are less comfortable with companies using social media posts, whether anonymous or not. Just 41% of employees are comfortable with social media being used.
Morale is worst among frontline workers such as cashiers and restaurant servers. Only 50% say they are happy with their pay and benefits, compared to 64% of non-frontline workers who say they are happy.
The report is available for download here.
Older Workers Most Happy
Workers over 65 may be a small part of the U.S. workforce, but they appear to be the happiest and most fulfilled workers.
According to a Pew Center survey, 67% of workers ages 65 and older say they are extremely or very satisfied with their job overall, compared with 55% of those 50 to 64, 51% of those 30 to 49, and 44% of those 18 to 29. Older workers are also the most likely to say they are extremely or very satisfied with their relationship with their manager or supervisor (73% of workers 65 and older say this), their day-to-day tasks (70%), and their opportunities for promotion (43%).
About two-thirds of workers ages 65 and older say their job is fulfilling (68%) and enjoyable (65%) all or most of the time. That compares with 53% and 54% for workers 50-64, 45% and 50% for workers 30 to 49, and 39% and 44% for workers under 30.
Only 19% of workers 65 and over say their work is stressful, and 14% say it is overwhelming. Larger numbers of younger workers say their work is stressful or overwhelming.
Workers 65 and older make up a relatively small share of the labor force — 7% in 2022, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Current Population Survey data.
The nationally representative survey of 5,902 U.S. workers, including 5,188 who are not self-employed, was conducted in February.
The survey is available for download here.
Workers Use One Word to Describe Their Workday
“Busy,” “exhausting” and “boring” are the most common words employees use to describe their day-to-day work life, according to a new survey.
The survey from Preply, an online language-learning marketplace, reveals how employees characterize a typical workday using just one word. “Busy” was used by 41.9% of respondents, followed by 12.9% who said “exhausting” and 12% who said “boring.” “Enjoyable” was used by 11.6%.
Americans in transportation, manufacturing and sales are the most likely to feel bored, whereas workers in education, construction and health care typically feel the busiest.
Other key findings include the following:
- One in 5 workers say they have a bad boss. The No. 1 word used to describe a bad boss is “incompetent.” Conversely, the top words to describe good bosses are “kind,” “understanding” and “friendly.”
- Nearly 1 in 5 millennials feel their current career is a dead end.
- Americans working in the health care industry are the most likely to feel stressed at work.
- Americans working in the computer and technology industry are most likely to find their job enjoyable.
- Americans working in the education field are most likely to feel the busiest.
More information about the survey is available here.
Four-Day Workweek Popular
Just 52% of Americans believe businesses have a positive impact on people’s well-being; however, 77% say a four-day, 40-hour workweek would improve their well-being if their employer offered it, according to the recently released Benley-Gallup Business in Society survey.
The findings are similar to an earlier survey from Bankrate that found 89% of the U.S. adult workforce support a four-day workweek, remote work or hybrid work. Additionally, 51% of those looking for a four-day week, remote work or hybrid work told Bankrate they would switch jobs or even industries to have at least one of those options.
The 2023 Bentley University-Gallup Business in Society study is based on a Gallup Panel web survey completed by 5,458 adults in the United States aged 18 and older between May 8-15, 2023.
When considering taking a new job, 87% of Americans say it is extremely or somewhat important that a company offer flexible work arrangements, and 68% find it important that the company provide free mental health support services.
The Bankrate survey was conducted online in July and includes 2,367 U.S. adults, of whom 1,137 are working full time or currently looking for full-time employment. It found a four-day workweek is more popular among full-time workers than remote and hybrid work, with 81% of full-time workers supporting a four-day workweek. Some 64% prefer fully remote work and 68% prefer hybrid work, as opposed to fully in-person work.
Almost nine in 10 (89%) full-time workers who support a four-day workweek would sacrifice something at work in exchange: 54% would work longer hours, 37% would change jobs or industries, 27% would work in the office more, and 10% would take a pay cut.
More information on the Bankrate report is available here.
The Bentley-Gallup report is available for download here.
Another State Legalizing Recreational Use of Marijuana
Ohio has become the latest state to legalize marijuana, joining a movement that appears to be gaining steam. Ohio becomes the 24th state to legalize recreational use of the drug, and the 15th state since 2019 to do so, creating potential challenges for employers concerned about any impact on workplace safety.
Once the Ohio law takes effect in early December, more than half of the American population will live in a state where marijuana is legal for recreational use. National support for marijuana legalization has reached a record 70%, according to a Gallup poll released Nov. 8.
In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use through ballot initiatives.
Ohio voters in November approved a ballot initiative to legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and older. Other provisions in the new law include:
- Legalizing possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates.
- Allowing individuals to grow up to six plants for personal use, with a maximum of 12 plants per household.
- A 10% sales tax to be imposed on cannabis sales, with revenue being divided to support social equity and jobs programs, localities that allow adult-use marijuana enterprises to operate in their area, education and substance misuse programs, and administrative costs of implementing the system.
Cannabis is legal in Texas since 2015 for limited medical use. Further attempts to decriminalize the drug have stalled in the state Legislature.
Texas Mutual Awards Nearly $4 Million in Grants
Workers’ compensation provider Texas Mutual Insurance Company has announced that it has selected the grant recipients for the second round of its 2023 request for proposal (RFP) initiative. Click here for full article.
Texas Department of Insurance
DWC Workers’ Compensation Fraud Reporting and Contact Information
Workers’ Compensation Fraud impacts all Texans. If you see workers’ compensation fraud or suspect workers’ compensation fraud- report it! Click here for full article.
Gov. Abbott Signs Bill Banning COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates in Private Sector
Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates for private employers at the governor’s mansion on Friday afternoon. Senate Bill 7 will prohibit employers in the private sector from taking “adverse action” against an employee who does not want to get a COVID-19 shot. Click here for full article.
How Lawmakers in Texas and Florida Undermine COVID Vaccination Efforts
Katherine Wells wants to urge her Lubbock, Texas, community to get vaccinated against Covid-19. “That could really save people from severe illness,” said Wells, the city’s public health director. Click here for full article.
Workers’ Compensation Rates Will Drop 10% in 2024
Connecticut workers’ compensation premium rates will fall for a 10th consecutive year in 2024. Click here for full article.
CT Workers’ Compensation Rates Drop 10% for 10th Straight Year
Gov. Ned Lamont announced earlier this week that businesses in Connecticut will pay an average of 10% less in workers’ compensation insurance starting Jan. 1, 2024. Click here for full article.
Florida OIR Makes Massive 15.1% Cut to Workers’ Comp Rates
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation [OIR] approved of a 15.1% average decrease in workers’ compensation rates in spite of roofing contractors asking for a rate freeze. Click here for full article.
Florida Man Sentenced for Role In Workers’ Compensation Fraud Conspiracy
A federal judge has sentenced Ramon Paz of Lakeland, Florida to 33 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud to avoid paying for workers’ compensation insurance. Click here for full article.
Impact of Cannabis Legislation on Maryland Workers’ Compensation Claims: What Changed in Maryland?
Maryland’s Cannabis Reform Act took effect July 1, 2023, following the November 2022 referendum in which Marylanders voted to legalize cannabis for adult use. Click here for full article.
Property Casualty 360
Man Loses Workers’ Comp Benefits After Not-so-total Disability Caught on Camera
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York affirmed a judgment issued by the Workers Compensation Board (Board) that a New York man claiming to be completely disabled have his benefits revoked and be “permanently disqualif[ied]…from receiving wage replacement benefits.” Click here for full article.
Workers’ Compensation Board Officials Talk About Coverage for ‘Long COVID’ Symptoms
The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board is continuing its webinar series to help workers who believe they contracted COVID-19 on the job. Click here for full article.
Pa. Court Rules Workers’ Comp Insurer Must Pay for Injured Worker’s CBD Oil
Eight months after it ruled that medical marijuana is covered under workers’ compensation, a Pennsylvania appeals court has concluded that an injured worker’s cost of CBD oil is also reimbursable. Click here for full article.
Office of the West Virginia Governor
Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rates to Drop for 19th Straight Year, More Good News for West Virginia
Governor Jim Justice announced today that the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), West Virginia’s rating and statistical agent, has filed a proposed workers’ compensation loss cost decrease of 12.7%, effective Nov. 1, 2023. Click here for full article.
Legal Talk Network
Long COVID And Workers’ Comp, A Deep Dive Into A Real Issue
Did we ever learn a lot during the once-in-a-generation health event that was COVID! Guest Dr. Bogdan Savych of the Workers Comp Research Institute (WCRI) is a policy analyst who is studying the lasting effects of the illness, as well as lingering cases of Long Covid. Click here for full article.
Risk & Insurance
Sound Waves, Acupuncture and Other Modalities That May Yet Have a Big Impact in Workers’ Comp
Sometimes, finding the right solution to a problem requires broadening our perspective. For example, in recent articles, I outlined how digestive health and the synergy between our gut and brain can aid in recovery from work injuries. Click here for full article.
Risk & Insurance
Whole Foods’ Caty Wynn on the Importance of a Mental Health Lens in Workers’ Comp More
Caty Wynn of Whole Foods shares how she shifted gears from pastry arts and serendipitously found a fulfilling career path in workers’ comp. Click here for full article.
WCRI Analyzes Relationship of Comorbidities to Lower Back Pain
Comorbidities most often associated with workers compensation claims involving lower back injuries are hypertension, arthritis, sleep dysfunction, depression, anxiety and panic disorders, and many claimants in these cases report multiple comorbidities, according to a study released Tuesday by the Workers Compensation Research Institute. Click here for full article.
How Does Workers’ Compensation Work?
Workers’ compensation insurance pays vital benefits to employees when they are injured or sick because of their job. Workers’ compensation benefits include medical treatment and on-going care, payments to cover lost wages and even death benefits. Click here for full article.
Mass. Officials Push for Change after Cannabis Worker Dies from Asthma Attack
Health Department officials in Massachusetts are pushing for extra safety steps after a cannabis worker died from an asthma attack. According to OSHA, a worker for Trulieve Cannabis Corp. was packaging ground cannabis into pre-rolls at the company’s processing facility in Holyoke when they suffered an asthma attack. Click here for full article.
Study Indicates Commerical Fishing as Much as 4 Times More Dangerous than Believed
Commercial fishing has long been known as one of the world’s most dangerous professions, but a new study by the FISH Foundation and commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trusts, suggests that the problem far exceeds previous estimates. Click here for full article.
Second Infection Hikes Long COVID Risk: Expert Q&A
People infected multiple times with COVID-19 are more likely to develop long COVID, and most never fully recover from the condition. Click here for full article.
The New York TImes
Some COVID Vaccines are Still Hard to Find
Vaccine appointments for kids remain limited, and Novavax shots are hard to come by. Click here for full article.
Denby Fawcett: Why So Few People Are Getting The New Covid Shot
I keep a card in my wallet that says I have been injected six different times to protect against Covid. So far, I have avoided the coronavirus and I want to keep it that way, especially when thinking about the life altering changes of long Covid. Click here for full article.
Study: 1 in 7 Americans Have had Long COVID
A new investigation led by researchers from the University College London and Dartmouth College suggests 14% of Americans had long COVID by the end of 2022. The details of the investigation are published in PLOS One. Click here for full article.
U.S. News & World Report
COVID Vaccine Won’t Raise Miscarriage Risk
A new study provides deeper insight into the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for people planning to become pregnant. Boston University researchers found no increased risk of early or late-term miscarriage resulting from either the male or the female partner getting a COVID-19 vaccination prior to conceiving. Click here for full article.
Few Kids are Getting the Latest COVID Shots. Is it Misinformation or a Lack of Access?
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, children’s lives were upended. Many schools had lockdowns, causing an unprecedented disruption in learning that many children are still feeling the repercussions of today. Click here for full article.
Life Expectancy Gap Between Men and Women in the US Widened Significantly During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Women in the United States can expect to live nearly six years longer than men, as disparities in deaths from Covid-19 and drug overdoses drive the life expectancy gap to the widest it’s been in decades. Click here for full article.