Texas Needs to Do More to Protect Construction Workers

November 2nd, 2017 by Guajardo & Marks, LLP

With more than 714,800 workers as of August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), construction workers make up a significant chunk of the Texas workforce. Construction accounts for jobs ranging from building oil-field scaffolds to putting a new roof on a one-story house, but what most construction jobs have in common is an element of danger. Even with safety regulations in place, one slip on a roof can lead to a dangerous fall; one loose bolt can lead to an entire section failing; and one wrong gust of wind can send a crane’s load careening out of control. It is because of these situations and inherent dangers that the state of Texas and United States should implement more regulations — not less — for construction worker safety.

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) statistics, construction work is the most dangerous job in the United States. The statistics show that of the 4,379 worker deaths in 2015, 937, or more than 20 percent, were construction-related. More than half of these deaths were caused by what OSHA refers to as the Fatal Four: falls, being struck by an object, electrocution and being caught between objects.

Texas’ record for work-related deaths is not good in any industry. In 2012, Texas led the nation in worker deaths, with 433. Since then the state has improved slightly, dropping out of the top five. Nevertheless, there were still 527 fatalities in 2015. This may indicate that rather than worker safety in Texas having truly improved, other states have simply become worse.

Construct Connect reported that in 2015 there were a total of 937 construction industry deaths. Of those, roofs were responsible for 106 deaths, ladders for 89 and scaffolding for 55. Machinery caused 91 deaths, while lifts accounted for 20, excavating machinery for 17, grading and surfacing machinery for 13, and cranes for 11.

The problem areas have been identified, but it is now up to safety specialists and regulators to research, propose and lobby to implement new laws to better protect workers not only in Texas, but in the entire United States. In addition to enacting new regulations, it’s vital to strictly enforce currently existing regulations, and we must ensure that penalties are harsh enough to discourage any repeat offenses.

Unfortunately, some accidents will no doubt continue to happen. But those that could have been avoided are nothing less than tragic, and all efforts should be made to enhance construction-worker safety. As a state, Texas relies on the people that work in construction; they should, at the least, be able to depend on the state to make sure the jobs they do are as safe as we can make them.

Guajardo & Marks of Dallas have more than 50 years of combined legal experience. They have the knowledge and resources you need to resolve your legal problems. If you have questions or would like to set up an appointment, contact us online or call us at 972.774.9800.