Report questions safety of Texas construction industry

Austin, TX – Inadequate safety training, lack of workers’ compensation coverage and fear of retaliation for reporting safety issues contribute to an unsafe construction industry in Texas, finds a new report (.pdf file) from the Workers Defense Project, an organization that aims to help low-income workers receive fair employment.

The report claims Texas has “the most dangerous construction industry” in the country. From 2003 to 2010, construction workers made up approximately 6 percent of the state’s workforce but 26 percent of worker deaths. Between 2007 and 2011, Texas had 585 construction worker fatalities, almost twice that of California, which ranked second with 299 deaths during that time period, according to the report.

Researchers also surveyed 1,194 Texas construction workers – 60 percent of whom said they had not received OSHA-certified construction safety training. Workers also described unsafe conditions, such as not being given adequate rest breaks and shade in high heat.

The report noted that Texas is the only state that does not require employers to have workers’ comp coverage.

Recommendations included having Texas fund formal worker training and for government agencies to partner with workers’ rights groups and businesses to conduct safety sweeps.

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