Texas workers face higher risk of deadly injuries than any other workers

Texas workers, particularly those in industries such as construction, may be more likely to suffer fatal injuries than workers in any other state.

Most Houston residents think that their home state is exceptional in numerous ways. Unfortunately, though, when it comes to workplace safety, Texas stands out in a less positive light. Data indicates that Texas workers face an above-average risk of suffering serious injuries on the job. Sadly, workers are more likely to suffer fatal injuries than workers in any other state.

Excess accidents and deaths

The Dallas Morning News reports that Texas has the highest rate of excess deaths out of the 10 largest states. Based on state population data and national fatality rates, the expected number of workplace fatalities in Texas from 2003 to 2012 was 4,014 workers. In reality, an average of 4,593 workers were killed during that time period.

Compared to workers in other states, workers in Texas are 12 percent more likely to suffer fatal on-the-job injuries. The prominence of the oil and gas industry and the state's high population cannot account for this high rate of catastrophic injuries. Texas actually has a below-average oil and gas industry fatality rate. Furthermore, California - the only state with a greater population than Texas - had a below-average fatality rate from 2003 to 2012.

Accidents in the construction industry may contribute significantly to the excessive number of workplace deaths in Texas. When excess fatalities are broken down by occupation, roofers, electricians and other specialty construction workers are the victims in 40 percent of those cases. Additionally, The Dallas Morning News reports that construction sites in Texas are 22 percent deadlier than those elsewhere.

Limited oversight

The reasons that Texas workers apparently face a higher risk of fatal injury than other workers may be complex. The Dallas Morning News points to a lack of focus on safety and prevention as one potential issue. Businesses and government bodies in the state have given limited attention to the following measures, which can significantly improve workplace safety:

· Thoroughly training employees

· Purchasing appropriate safety equipment

· Conducting workplace inspections

The state's reluctance to closely regulate businesses may leave many employees inadequately prepared and facing dangerous working conditions. Worsening the issue, workers in trades such as construction are often classified as contractors. This leaves these workers responsible for looking after their own safety.

Outlook for Texas workers

The Texas Department of Insurance reports that Texas has recently registered below-average occupational illness and injury rates. From 2009 to 2013, the state's rate of injuries and illnesses per 100 workers was at least 0.7 less than the national rate. Still, the recent analysis indicates that when injuries do occur, they tend to be severe or even deadly.

Employees who suffer on-the-job injuries may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. If an employer does not carry workers' compensation insurance, an injured employee may be able to hold the employer directly responsible. In either case, injured workers may seek compensation for wage loss, medical expenses and long-time disablement. In the event of fatal injuries, surviving family members may be entitled to death benefits or damages.

Anyone who has suffered a work-related injury or lost a loved one in a workplace accident should consider consulting with an attorney. An attorney may be able to help a person understand his or her rights and options for pursuing appropriate compensation.

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