Texas leads the nation in accidental deaths in the workplace

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by Jim Orr

On September 20, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a preliminary total of 4,609 fatal work injuries in the United States in 2011, down from a final count of 4,690 fatal work injuries in 2010. However, as the Dallas Morning News recently reported, the number of workplace deaths in Texas has remained both very high and largely unchanged for decades.

The article noted that in the 1990s there were more than 6,000 fatalities per year in the United States However, workplace fatalities declined 16 percent from 2003 to 2010, from 5,575 to 4,690. The story within Texas is quite different.

Texas led the nation with 461 total worker deaths in 2010, the most recent year for which complete data is available. Bowers reports that eighty-two of those were in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. In fact, the Texas total was about 10 percent of the national total and was far ahead of No. 2 California, which reported only 302 deaths.

Even worse, examine the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and you’ll notice that workplace deaths in Texas have remained relatively constant—at least 400 and usually closer to 500 every year since 1992.

Why are workplace deaths declining around the country but not in Texas?

Bowers notes that “many blame the state’s lax workplace rules.” He cites, as one example, the deaths of two men dismantling a crane in July at the University of Texas at Dallas. An inquiry into that incident found that Texas has minimal training requirements and proficiency standards for crane operators.

Ken Nibarger is a safety specialist with the United Steel Workers Union who investigated the aftermath of the BP Texas City refinery explosion. He says the rise of the temporary worker is a contributing factor to worker injuries and deaths because those workers aren’t on site long enough to become familiar with the dangers of a certain plant or job.

“Workplace Fatalities in Texas–2010,” a statement released in 2011 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, includes the following details:

  • Men accounted for 426, or 93 percent, of the work-related fatalities in Texas.
  • Transportation incidents, which include highway, non-highway, pedestrian, air, water, and rail accidents, made up 42 percent of these fatalities.
  • In Texas, 56 percent of those who died from a workplace injury were white non-Hispanics. Nationwide, this group accounted for 72 percent of work-related deaths.
  • Workers 25-54 years old—the prime working age group—accounted for 297, or 65 percent, of the State’s work-related fatalities in 2010. Nationally, workers in this group accounted for 60 percent of on-the-job fatalities.
  • The transportation and warehousing sector had the largest number of fatalities, 93, followed by construction with 89.
  • Transportation and material moving occupations had the highest number of workplace fatalities in the state with 140, of which heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers accounted for 84. Workers in construction and extraction jobs had the second-highest fatality count at 98, followed by those employed in installation, maintenance, and repair occupations at 44.

At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have tried hundreds of cases to verdict and have settled hundreds more. In 2010 alone, we negotiated settlements of personal injury and wrongful death claims totaling more than $50 million.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson also has the financial resources to handle personal injury cases from start to finish. In fact, there are many instances in which we invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a case in order to take it to trial. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we are committed to achieving justice for our clients, whatever the cost.

If you have been seriously injured, or a friend or loved one was injured or killed, in a workplace accident, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for your free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal right to compensation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out a free legal consultation form.