Texas workers 12 percent more likely to die on the job

More than 700 specialty construction workers in Texas were killed on-the-job between 2003 and 2012.

Construction sites in Texas are 22 percent deadlier than those in other states.

According to a new study, workers in Texas are 12 percent more likely to die on the job than their peers working in other states. The Dallas Morning News analyzed federal data and found that 4,593 Texas workers died over just one 10-year period.

The construction industry is particularly deadly for Texans, with a death rate 22 percent higher than the United States’ average. Roofers, electricians and others in specialty trades are dying at an alarming rate — 719 between 2003 and 2012 alone. Many of these — nearly 300 during that time period — are due to workplace falls.

This is likely at least partly because employees are not properly instructed in preventing and avoiding falls. The Houston Chronicle reports that many construction companies inaccurately characterize their workers as “independent contractors,” which makes them responsible for providing their own safety equipment and training.

Some specialty trade workers, such as journeyman iron workers, are required to complete safety training, which expert Robert Cothren says also tends to improve job performance.

“My favorite part is when I get a call from a contractor or a job site superintendent who says, ‘Send me five more just like the last ones,'” Cothren tells The Morning News.

Many of the accidents that claim workers’ lives in Texas and elsewhere are entirely preventable. This special investigation is a sobering reminder that safety training programs really do work, actively saving lives through prevention. If you are an employer, consider investing in easy-to-use, inexpensive training programs. A variety of courses — covering topics ranging from fall prevention to forklift safety — can give your employees the information they need to keep themselves and others safe while doing their jobs.

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