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Texas: A Dangerous Place for Construction Workers

— June 23, 2022

Injuries caused by oil related accidents can include burns, hearing loss, broken bones, head injuries, and a variety of health problems from inhaling toxic substances.

Texas is one of the states with the highest number of construction accidents. And it’s not only construction workers that are getting injured and killed in these incidents; there are many civilian traffic accidents caused by construction work zones in Texas. It may seem like the numbers are just higher because of the size of Texas, but data shows that the lone star state has a proportionately higher number of construction worker injuries and fatalities. Let’s explore why that is.

Quick Facts: Construction in Texas

  • Texas spent the most of any state on private nonresidential construction projects in 2020 – around $50.8 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • As of 2017, the construction industry made up 6% of all Texas jobs.
  • There were 123 Texas construction worker deaths in 2019.
  • Texas construction workers are 12% more likely to die than construction workers in other states.

Why is Texas so Dangerous?

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons that Texas is the most dangerous state for construction workers, but below are a few insights that may help shine some light.

Oil Accidents

Texas produces the most oil out of any state. It has almost 500,000 miles of pipeline, which carries some hazardous substances. Unfortunately oil spills are not uncommon, due to a variety of factors like equipment failure, natural disasters, and human error. Spills are allegedly not always reported, which can lead to harmful chemicals and hazards in the environment without people’s knowledge.

Injuries caused by oil related accidents can include burns, hearing loss, broken bones, head injuries, and a variety of health problems from inhaling toxic substances. Many of these injuries can lead to death, especially in an oil refinery explosion.

Highway Work Zones

According to the Engineering News Record, construction work zone fatalities are abnormally high in Texas. Back in 2014 there were 144 deaths involving cars in Texas work zone accidents, compared to only 4 in New York. Naturally, work zones on highways present risks such as slower speeds and small shoulders, but shouldn’t these hazards affect all states equally?

Image via Andrew Hayward/Flickr. (CCA-BY-2.0)

Texas’ overall crash numbers have actually been improving, says Work Zone Safety. Efforts are being made to add better signage, better planning, and speed limit enforcement. Unfortunately, the number of fatal crashes is not decreasing, and the data is beginning to tell us why. There are a number of factors causing these accidents including large truck crashes, drivers under the influence, and speeding. Texas has long stretches of both highways and rural roads, which tend to encourage drivers to speed.

Laws and Regulations

Texas is unique when it comes to certain construction regulations. One example is that Texas is the only state in the country that does not require employers to carry workers’ comp insurance. This means that injured construction workers in Texas are not automatically covered by their employer while recovering, and employers have no incentive to keep workers safe. The lack of workers’ compensation requirements does mean that injured workers can sue, but not many do. OSHA is the party responsible for overseeing safety standards across the country, but unfortunately, the organization doesn’t have enough inspectors to investigate every single violation.

These are just some of the reasons that construction accidents are higher in Texas. Remember to always follow OSHA’s safety standards on construction sites to mitigate injuries.

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