The state of Texas has the highest rate of on-the-job deaths when compared to any other state in the country. According to the Dallas Morning News, workers are 12% more likely to be killed on the job than a worker doing the same job in any other state. While excess deaths among the labor industry are an issue across the country, Texas’ high rate of deaths should be possible to avoid.
As a right-to-work state, laborers can work in Texas without needing to join a union. For many workers, this provides more opportunities to be hired for work. However, a union has the power to require all workers be trained and all jobs they work meet every safety requirement. When workers are not part of a union, it is much more difficult for them to make demands from any sort of job. Many are treated as independent contractors so there is no required minimum hourly wage, no overtime, no required safety training or equipment, and no compensation for on-the-job injuries. Texas has the sixth lowest rate of union membership of any state in the country.
Economy May Be Linked To Unsafe Work Conditions
Lately the influx of excess deaths in Texas has been a result of the successful economy Texas has experienced in recent years. Many workers have come to Texas where it is easier to find and secure jobs. A higher demand for work means companies are able to neglect more safety regulations and it is even harder for workers to speak up about unsafe work conditions.
In addition to the lack of union control and regulation, Texas is one of 26 states that does not have an occupational safety inspection agency. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is in charge of the safety of workers in states like Texas, making it tough for any one agency to ensure the safety of workers in the state. OSHA has set requirements states must meet, however a 2010 inspector general’s report showed that OSHA has no methods of determining if a state meets requirements.
Construction workers and others in the labor industry are often scaling walls, working on top of buildings or in other environments where injury and/or death is likely to happen if proper safety regulations are not met. The state of Texas is far from being one of the safest for workers and the state has a long way to go in order to ensure workers in the state are looked out for, both physically and legally.