More Construction Accident Deaths in Texas

The Dallas Morning News uncovered some surprising and troubling statistics concerning deaths in the workplace in Texas. After conducting a statistical review of workplace deaths, Texas was the deadliest state for construction workers, experiencing 4,593 deaths, which is 579 more deaths than researches expected to find. This is in stark contrast to the state of California, whose construction work force is larger than Texas, but experienced over a thousand less deaths than expected.

The area of construction with the most deaths was in the electrical contracting filed, followed by roofing and framing. Deaths from falls continue to be the leading cause of death in Texas over the 10 year period, which is consistent with OSHA national statistics.

What are the major causes? Texas’ practice of designating trade workers as “subcontractors” versus regular employees. Texas construction companies pay less in payroll taxes (by about $100,000.00 in companies with an average payroll of $1,000,000.00) by designating their workers as independent contractors rather than employees. When these workers are hurt or killed, the company they work for then denies responsibility by claiming that worker was not an employee, and thus they have no liability. Even worse, many commercial liability insurance companies contain exclusions for injuries to or death of an independent contractor versus an employee. As insurance companies recognize ways to get out of paying claims, they are conforming to construction company practices and creating policy exclusions that hurt Texas workers and their families.

Texas, like many states, has a large undocumented work force. These workers perform jobs that most citizens refuse to do. The study pointed out that until the immigration system is reformed Texas and other similarly situated states will continue to misclassify workers as independent contractors versus employees because employers will not want to be charged with verifying immigration status.

Another item cited as a causative factor was Texas being the 6th weakest unionized state in the country. The study found that states with a strong union presence had a much lower fatality rate. Some of the reasons for this include that unions offer or even require attendance at OSHA certified training courses. An example is the Dallas local Ironworkers’ union requires its members to attend an OSHA 30 hour safety course before qualifying as a journeyman to receive union job referrals/placement.

We are proud of our recoveries we have gotten for injured workers in Texas. We have secured millions of dollars in recoveries for people who need it to take care of them and their families after a catastrophic injury that could have, and should have, been prevented by using just ordinary care. We welcome the opportunity to represent you and your loved ones in cases involving construction accidents. Experience, Justice. Results. We are here to help you.

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