Work Safe, Texas! Annual Texas Mutual summit focuses on workplace safety, new tech | News

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Texas Mutual Insurance Co.

www.texasmutual.com/

Austin-based Texas Mutual Insurance Co., the state’s leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance, brought together about 200 owners and leaders from the service, construction and manufacturing industries to discuss workplace safety during their annual summit in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

This year’s half-day Work Safe, Texas Summit took place May 8 at the Vouv Meeting and Event Space in Dallas. According to Texas Mutual, each summit aims to educate and connect business owners and operations leaders on a range of workplace safety issues.

Jeremiah Bentley, Texas Mutual vice president of marketing and customer engagement, said this year’s event had a higher attendance rate than ever and they actually had to cut off registration a few weeks early when they reached capacity for the event space.

“Every industry faces its own hazards affecting productivity, morale and the bottom line,” Bentley said. “The Work Safe, Texas Summit is designed to help decision-makers prepare a strategy for keeping workers safe and on the job, benefitting both the employee and the employer.”

Summit attendees were able to participate in three sessions: Safety for the Service, Construction & Manufacturing Industries; Training on OSHA Compliance and Regulatory Changes; and Technology and Innovation in the Workplace

Dallas Business Journal Publisher Tracy Merzi was the day’s panel moderator.

“A strong culture in workplace safety is based on strong leadership,” Merzi said as she brought up the panelists: Frances Davis, claims manager for Select Staffing; Tammy Bennett, safety and health manager for Darr Equipment Co.; and Luciano Perez, safety manager for KPost Co.

Bentley; Eric Bourquin, Texas Mutual vice president of safety services; and Woody Hill, Texas Mutual vice president of customer experience, spoke before the panel sessions.

Perez explained that sometimes workplace safety programs can fail because it’s not just about having the information, but how that information is translated to the employee.

He agreed with Merzi that safety in the workplace starts with the leadership. At KPost, he said, they have weekly and monthly safety meetings to promote a culture of workplace safety.

“It starts from the top always and trickles down to the employees, safety does,” Davis agreed. “It’s not a one-time thing you can tell your staff; safety is every day.”

If employees are hurt on the job, Davis said, they need to know that their workplace will be there for them.

“Safety is very important as far as your employees. If you don’t show them you care, they won’t care,” Bennett said. “When our top-level managers are all involved that helps the culture and when we’re training them that’s how they know that it’s not just about the job, it’s about the person.”

Bennett added that anyone at Darr Equipment can nominate a coworker for an end-of-the-year safety incentive. This involves getting a safety audit, taking a safety exam and considering the nominations.

Perez said KPost gives personal recognition forms and branded sunglasses as an incentive for promoting workplace safety and having few incidents. But incentives can be a double-edged sword, Perez continued. Employees still need to report workplace safety concerns without worrying that they will lose an incentive.

The topic of drug testing when workplace injuries occur also came up and Bennett explained that at Darr all employees are screened for drugs after on-the-job injuries. “It’s not that we let people go because we don’t want them to have fun,’” Bennett said, referring to no-tolerance drug use policies. “it’s that their impairment might put others’ safety at risk. Don’t forget to read that fine print about random testing.”

“If you have an injury you will be drug tested,” Select Staffing’s Davis said. “And if it comes back positive, you will be terminated.”

Attendees at the summit also tried out Safety in a Box, which Texas Mutual touts as the first virtual-reality tool used for workplace safety in the insurance industry.

Safety in a Box uses a foldable Google Cardboard viewer and the free Safety in a Box app and is designed to be a portable training tool that can be viewed by multiple users at any worksite.

“We think that Safety in a Box is innovative because we’re sort of the first company to take [Google Cardboard] beyond the gaming industry or pure entertainment factor and really try to make a difference in the workplace,” Bentley said.

“We use it as a training tool and when we saw virtual reality we really saw an opportunity to reach people in a different way because you can watch the [safety] video all day long and it doesn’t connect with anybody, but when you experience that situation first hand [safely, through virtual reality] there’s just no better way to reach people,” he continued.

The app is available in both English and Spanish and showcases seven workplace safety situations in both construction and manufacturing.

In manufacturing the scenarios involved working with automated equipment and lockout/tagout, working in an environment with slip and fall hazards and working with and near an operating forklift. The virtual reality construction scenarios involved falls, being stuck by an object, electrocution and being caught in or between equipment.

Texas Mutual also recently released a mobile app for injured workers called TXM Claim Assist, also available in both English and Spanish, which provides users with claim information during their recovery.

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