Texas has more workplace deaths than any other state. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas experienced 524 fatal workplace injuries in 2014 alone.
The leading sectors for death have been transportation, construction, warehousing, oil rigs and farming. Families are left without loved ones and often without the primary source of income.
The Dallas Morning News reports that workers in Texas are 12% more likely to die on the job than workers in the same job in other states. So why are Texas workplaces more dangerous than other states?
Appropriate and usually simple safety measures would prevent nearly all of these tragedies. North Texas is near the top of this list for workplace deaths.
High demand in a strong economy
Texas’ booming economy attracts workers in construction and other specialty trades. Many workplace deaths have occurred at construction sites, where it is common for workers to be independent contractors. For independent contractors, there may not be required safety training or equipment. Additionally, there may be no required compensation for workplace injuries.
Lack of union control
Since Texas is a right-to-work state, union membership is not required. According to The Dallas Morning News, right-to-work states have a higher death rate than states with high union membership. Non-union workers are less likely than union workers to report unsafe work conditions for fear of losing their jobs. Also, some employers think safety is a waste or slows down the job.
No state occupational safety inspection agency
Texas is among the 26 states that do not have an occupational safety inspection agency. Worker safety is left up to the general contractor or the subcontractor.
In Texas, worker safety is left up to the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA lacks the resources to cover everything that is required to ensure the safety of all Texas workers. OSHA only investigated 1,723 on-the-job deaths in Texas from 2003 to 2012, but there were more than twice as many workplace deaths in Texas that occurred during this period.
In construction trades, falling has been the most common cause of death. Three hundred specialty trade workers in Texas died from falling over a 10-year period. Construction trades can already be dangerous, but when safety training and regulations are not met, these kinds of accidents are likely to continue.
We at the Law Offices of Bob Osburn continue to work with families, whose loved ones have suffered because of defective scaffolding erection, faulty or no guardrails, explosions and burn injuries, and defective or no fall protection. Let us know when we can be of service.