Federal regulators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have recently fined three Texas construction firms with close to $800,000 in penalties for failing to provide adequate safety measures to workers on the job. According to David Michaels, who heads OSHA, “more construction workers in Texas die on the job than in any other state.” Many employers are failing in their duty to protect their employees, and are effectively putting them in great danger. This is especially troubling considering that Texas is the only U.S. state that does not require employers to have workers’ compensation insurance. Currently, only 40 percent of construction firms carry it.
Michaels has attributed this problem to a “lax safety culture that extends across Texas”. So far, the agency has wrapped up investigations at two construction sites in the Houston area, fining a total of $423,000 for 16 serious safety violations. Six of these violations, cited to the Hassell Construction Company, were labeled “egregious willfull” because the company failed to protect their employees from a cave-in that happened in back in February, when an 8-foot trench collapsed and buried one of their workers.
Hassell Construction Company has been enrolled in OSHA’s “severe violators program,” joining over 460 U.S. workplaces who will be visited more frequently for inspections.
Another Houston construction company, Cotton Commercial, received a fine of $362,500 for failing to regularly inspect job sites where their employees worked. This comes after an incident last January when an employee fell 12 feet through a roof, breaking an arm and suffering serious contusions. OSHA discovered that the employee’s original request for a safety harness was denied, and that the accident was not reported until three days later. Guardia Construction, who supplied the worker to the job site, was also fined $4,900. Since they do not carry workers’ compensation insurance, the injured worker’s future is uncertain.
While both companies have the right to contest the penalties, neither has commented on the situation.
The Dallas personal injury lawyers at The Daspit Law Firm provide top-quality representation to victims of injury in the workplace. To see if you have a workers’ compensation case, contact our firm as soon as possible at (888) 234-4956.
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