Texas’ work-related death toll jumped by over 20 percent last year, despite an overall decrease across the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas lost 531 workers in 2012 compared to 433 workers just the year before. At the same time, the total number of lives claimed on the job across the U.S. decreased from 4,693 to 4,383. While strides are being made nationally to improve workplace safety, Texas appears to be falling behind the 8-ball on keeping this state’s workforce out of harm’s way.
Of the total death toll, Texas transportation and construction industries suffered the largest number of fatalities. Making up a combined 40 percent of the state’s total work-related deaths, the Texas Building & Construction Trades Council largely attributes these deaths to the surge in oil and gas exploration and production in Texas. Particularly, the council points out that many deaths are occurring because roads relied upon to access oil and gas fields have largely remained unpaved. The Texas Department of Transportation estimates that roads interconnecting Texas’ most rural, oil-rich areas once carried 200 vehicles per day now have 2,400 vehicles traveling on them, most of which are 18-wheeler trucks carrying highly flammable oil and gas.
It is true that Texas added more jobs than any other state in 2012 and continues to be a national leader in job creation. But with the strongest labor market out of any other state in the U.S., it is all the more reason that Texas protect the very thing that has helped it prosper: the workers.