Performing any kind of work can present the possibility of encountering dangers; however, some jobs are considered much more dangerous and even life-threatening in certain situations. This is especially true for Houston construction work where heavy machinery and hard labor are necessary. It’s important that workers know the dangers of construction work in Houston to better protect themselves should a hazardous situation arise on a job site.
Texas Construction Work Dangers
The construction industry in Texas is shaped by several trends. First, unlike many other states, Texas does not require employers to have workers’ compensation insurance. This coverage not only compensates injured workers but also protects employers from litigation. Since most workers are unaware of their rights, however, workplace injury lawsuits against construction companies are less common than they should be. While the average person might assume construction companies would get in trouble if their workers are injured, the surplus of construction workers in Texas often leaves employers without an incentive to keep their employees adequately protected from potential risks on the job.
This mindset has led to a lax safety culture across the state. While employers must provide all safety equipment and necessary training workers need to stay safe on the job, the Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA) lacks the manpower to investigate many workplace violations. As of 2021, OSHA reported it has 1,850 inspectors charged with protecting over 130 million workers across the United States. Meaning there is only one compliance officer for every 70,000 workers. With so many workers and too few inspectors, it’s easy for employers’ violations of federal safety standards to be overlooked.
For instance, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2019 123 Texas construction workers died in workplace accidents. This included 32 accidents that involved motor vehicles, as well as 13 fatalities that involved exposure to harmful environments. Almost 50 percent of workdays include at least one construction site fatality. In total, 608 Texas workers died from occupational injuries in 2019, with construction industry deaths accounting for 20 percent of that total.
Not only that, but a November 2020 report from the Texas Department of Insurance Division of Workers’ Compensation found 11,300 non-fatal injuries and illnesses in our state’s construction industry in 2019. This makes for an incident rate of 1.5 cases per 100 full-time workers in Texas or 43 construction site injuries for each workday over a five-day workweek.
Common Causes of Houston Construction Accidents
With all this in mind, it’s important to examine the common causes of construction accidents that plague the Houston construction industry. The dangers of construction work in Houston are often caused by one more of the following:
Crane and Equipment Accidents
Working with and managing dangerous equipment is a major part of construction labor. Despite this, the equipment used has the potential to cause severe injuries on job sites if poorly maintained or poorly operated. This poses a myriad of severe dangers for construction workers, who may not have gotten enough training from their employers on how to safely use the equipment.
This is especially true when looking at accidents involving the use of cranes in Texas. According to the BLS, from 2011 to 2017, Texas saw up to 50 crane-related worker deaths. While this may not seem like much, Florida, New York, California, and Illinois each had 16 or fewer occupational crane fatalities over the same period. As of 2019, OSHA‘s final rule for the crane operation in construction clarified that an employer must ensure the competency of crane operators through training, certification, and/or licensing and evaluation. Despite the rule being in effect, operator error played a role in at least two Texas crane accidents in 2021.
Scaffolding injuries are often the result of dangerous accidents such as workers falling off scaffolding, workers being hit by falling objects, accidental electrocution injuries, or a scaffolding collapse. Although scaffolding is intended to elevate and support construction workers, poorly constructed guardrails, faulty harnesses, and/or unstable structural design can lead to scaffolding falls and serious, if not fatal, injuries.
Fatal falls are among the leading causes of work-related death in the construction industry. Most construction sites encompass tall structures and dangerous materials that can cause workers to slip and fall amid hazardous working conditions.
Faulty lift machinery can cause construction accidents due to manufacturing defects or poor maintenance of frequently used lift equipment. In some cases, serious accidents may occur from exposed elevator shafts that are improperly secured and other dangers of construction work.
Burn injuries from construction work can be incredibly severe and result in life-altering impacts. These injuries on construction job sites can occur due to unsafe working conditions and employer negligence like exposed wires, electrical system faults, open power sources, toxic chemical spills, and improper machine operation.
Construction sites often have objects that are elevated above the ground at extraordinary heights. If they fall, they can result in crush injuries to a worker on a lower level. Not only that, but improper use of cranes and excavation machinery can also result in a crush injury to unsuspecting workers if not utilized safely.
Trenches on construction sites have the possibility of collapsing onto workers inside, resulting in tragic crave-in accidents. Workers could be trapped inside and sustain severe injuries due to falling debris and the collapsing structure.
Houston Construction Accidents
Every worker is entitled to a reasonably safe workplace. All employers are responsible for their employees’ safety. Unfortunately, many employers cut corners and rely on workers’ lack of knowledge about their rights. This is wrong, and construction companies need to be held accountable for the injuries and other losses they cause.
If you or someone you love was injured in a construction accident in Texas, do not wait to contact the experienced construction accident attorneys at Dax F. Garza, P.C. for a free consultation. You could be entitled to compensation; however, there is limited time to act following a work accident in Texas.