Texas Gets an “F” for Workplace Safety

by Terry Bryant

Some occupations bring more injury risks than others. In 2015, according to an article in Time Magazine, 4,836 fatal injuries occurred on the job, which was slightly higher than the previous year. And at four deaths per 100,000 workers, Latinos have the highest workplace death rate of any racial group.

In 2012 – according to Time – 433 workers died from workplace injuries. According to CBS News, more workers died in Texas than in any other state. Why is our state so dangerous? The booming oil and gas industries and lots of construction jobs mean many blue-collar workers put their lives on the line the moment they walk onto their job sites. Less emphasis on workplace safety is also a common culprit.

These are some of the other high fatality industries in Texas:

Construction: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one in ten construction workers are injured every year – mostly due to falls. This makes construction one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. An OSHA official recently said that “construction workers are not being given adequate protection” on Texas job sites.

Agriculture:  More than half of the world’s workplace fatalities happen in agriculture, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). And the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) ranks Texas as the 3rd largest producer of agricultural commodities (behind California and Iowa). The sheer volume of activity means that too many fatal accidents occur. Farming accidents usually involve overturning tractors or limbs being caught in machinery.

Fishing Industry: Nationwide, fishing fatality rates are 117 per 100,000 workers. Heavy equipment, rough seas, and poorly maintained boats all contribute to serious accidents. Many fishermen drown when their vessels sink or from falling overboard. Deck winches on shrimp boats kill several people each year in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Aviation: Pilots and flight engineers have Texas’ third highest per capita on-the-job death rate. But most pilots stand a greater chance of dying in private planes rather than commercial airliners. In December 2016, three people were killed when two small planes collided in mid-air near McKinney, Texas. And a few months earlier, a hot-air balloon rigger and several tourist passengers died near Austin when their balloon caught fire.

Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers: All types of driving careers bring an elevated risk of serious injury or death on the job. But the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) warns that driving 18-wheelers is an especially deadly occupation. As an average load weighs at least 13 tons (26,000 pounds), handling a big rig can mean disaster for truckers who lose control of their rigs, as well as for the innocent drivers in their path.

Electricians: This includes installers, repair, and maintenance personnel. Across the nation, electric workers have the seventh deadliest occupation, averaging 23 deaths per 100,000 workers. Not only must electric workers climb poles and work with live wires – often during the worst inclement weather conditions – but many electricians are hurt or killed on new construction sites and during normal maintenance work. In Texas, 44 electric workers died on the job in 2014.

To schedule a free consultation with Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, contact us today by filling out our online contact form or giving us a call at (800) 444-5000 or locally in the Houston area at (713) 973-8888.