The construction fatality rate is declining faster in Texas than most other states according to a new analysis of federal safety data conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that the state's construction fatality and injury rates have declined, as many contractors have spent much of the past decade focusing on improving workplace safety.
“While none of our members will be happy until there are zero injuries and zero fatalities on construction sites, the steps our firms are taking in Texas to improve construction safety are working,” said Brian Turmail, the national association’s spokesperson. “When you work next to heavy machinery in tight quarters - erecting structures and building roads and bridges -- making sure workers are safe is essential.”
Turmail said that Texas went from having a construction fatality rate in 2008 (the earliest year such data is available) of 13.1 deaths per 100,000 workers to having a fatality rate of 9.7 in 2011 (the most recent year such data is available). The state’s 26 percent decline in fatality rate was the eighth largest drop compared to the 41 states and the District of Columbia where the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks fatality rates. Texas went from having the 32nd highest fatality rate in 2008 to the 20th, Turmail added.
Meanwhile, Texas contractors have successfully reduced the construction injury rate by 36 percent between 2003 and 2011 (the earliest and most recent years such data is available), from 4.4 injuries per 100 workers to 2.8. The state now has the seventh lowest construction injury rate among the 41 states and the District of Columbia were similar data is still available, Turmail added.
Turmail announced the new safety data during a visit to a Houston construction site participating in a statewide halt in construction activity, known as a Safety Stand Down, so contractors can provide additional safety training for their workers. The association spokesman said that one of the reasons for the decline in construction and fatality rates is that many construction firms in Texas have worked hard to improve workplace safety, noting that today was the 10th anniversary of the statewide Safety Stand Downs.
He added that many firms and local association chapters in Texas have created new safety programs focused on reducing the risk of falling on the job site, getting struck by moving equipment, and succumbing to dehydration and heat exhaustion during the state's long, hot summers. Also, he added, many firms and chapters have brought on new staff whose main focus is ensuring construction sites are safe and crews are using safety gear properly.
Despite the improving safety trends, Turmail said his association and its member firms will continue to hold Safety Stand Downs, offer safety training and partner with agencies like the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to find new ways to improve safety.
“This is Texas and we can do even better when it comes to the fatality rate and the injury rate for construction,” Turmail said.