Report shows TX workers face an above average risk of fatal accidents

Next to other large states, Texas has a much higher rate of worker deaths than statistically expected; high construction fatality rates may be one reason.

Many workers who live in El Paso consider their state to be exceptional in various ways. Unfortunately, a new report suggests that Texas also stands out in one decidedly negative way: workers in the state have an above average risk of experiencing a fatal workplace injury, and Texas leads the nation in total workplace deaths, according to an investigation from The Dallas Morning News.

Excessive accidents, fatalities

The investigation found that, based on the current state population and the nation's average worker fatality rate, Texas would have been expected to record about 4,014 worker deaths between 2003 and 2012, which were the most recent years for which data was available. Instead, 4,593 lives were lost, representing about 580 more deaths than statistically expected.

Texas had a higher rate of these "excess deaths" than any of the other nine states with the largest populations. Furthermore, workers in the state were 12 percent more likely to suffer fatal job-related injuries than workers in other states were.

At-risk industries

These troubling findings aren't just attributable to the prominence of the notoriously dangerous oil and gas industry. The rate of oil and gas industry worker deaths that were reported in Texas between 2003 and 2012 actually fell significantly below the national average. Fatal construction workplace injuries, however, might contribute significantly to the total fatality risk, as the following figures illustrate:

  • Texas workers in this industry had a 22 percent higher risk of fatal accidents than construction workers in other states.
  • Forty percent of the state's excessive deaths occurred in this industry; workers such as electricians and roofers were especially at risk.
  • From 2003 to 2012, 242 more construction worker fatalities than statistically expected occurred.

This finding fits with broader national data that indicates the construction industry is one of the most deadly. In 2013, roughly one fatal workplace accident out of five occurred in this industry, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

According to The Dallas Morning News, lack of funding from government or industry to cover training, inspections and the purchase of adequate safety equipment may contribute to the state's heightened fatality rate. Construction workers who are treated as independent contractors may be especially at risk, as they oversee their own training and equipment purchases; however, employed workers may also be vulnerable.

Recourse for injured workers

Employees who are injured in the course of their jobs are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. Texas follows no-fault laws, so an injured worker may collect compensation regardless of who was at fault, as long as the worker was not intoxicated, engaging in horseplay or acting illegally at the time of the incident.

Anyone who has suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a work-related accident should consider consulting with an attorney before filing the claim. An attorney can provide advice or guidance on documenting the accident and navigating the claims process.

Keywords: workplace, accident, injury