A very extensive report was recently released showing that any worker in Texas has a 12 percent greater likelihood of dying on the job than the same worker doing the same job in any other state. However, if that worker is in the Texas construction industry, that worker has a 22 percent greater likelihood to be killed at a construction site in the same worker in any other state.
To come up with statistics, researchers took a hard look at Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2003 through 2012, and tried to determine how many deaths should be expected in each industry every year, by comparing the number of workers and the national fatality rate with those in Texas. What they found was startling. For example, overall Texas saw 4,593 deaths, whereas the expected number of deaths should have been 4,014. that is 12% more than the state should have expected. While there were 17 states with higher rates of excess workplace deaths, all of those states had fewer than a quarter of the number of workplace deaths in Texas. Among the 10 largest states, Texas had the highest rate of excess deaths.
The report, from the Dallas Morning News, cites a number of reasons why Texas construction workers are more likely to die on the job than workers in other states. Besides the use of undocumented workers who tend to be untrained, researchers also cited the lack of an occupational safety agency at the state level that is capable of doing workplace inspections a regular basis. Instead, Texas relies on the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is already being stretched to the limit in attempting to oversee worker safety.
As noted, the industry with the largest number of excess workplace deaths in Texas was the construction industry. That industry saw 719 workplace fatalities during the time period in question, when it should have seen 477. That means an excess of 22% of workplace fatalities in that industry. The most common cause of death, by far, was falls, with 300 construction workers dying from falls during the decade analyzed.
One key reason cited by the report as to why so many Texas construction workers die on the job may be because so many contractors hire them as independent contractors rather than employees, with no minimum wage, overtime or workers compensation. There is also no required training or safety equipment for such workers. The contractors do this to save money, but it puts construction workers at greater risk.
OSHA and the state of Texas obviously must do a better job of enforcing workplace safety rules, although ultimately it is always the employer’s responsibility to provide workers with a safe working environment. Even with the lack of government oversight, there is no excuse for employers placing profits ahead of workplace safety. Employers who do that may be considered negligent. If you or a loved one has died or has been seriously injured on the job, you may be entitled to compensation if employer negligence can be proven. Contact the Texas Construction Worksite Injury Lawyer at Hill Law Firm as soon as possible to protect and preserve your rights.