Workplace Deaths Up in Texas, Which Still Tops List

The number of people killed on the job in Texas increased in 2014, and the state retained its grim perch atop all others in workplace deaths, according to preliminary federal data released Thursday

Texas saw 524 fatal workplace injuries last year, compared with 508 a year earlier, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. That 3 percent increase was slightly higher than the growth of workplace fatalities nationwide (2 percent). The 2014 figures are preliminary, and the agency will revise them next spring.  

The next highest death toll behind Texas was in more populous California, where 334 workers died last year.

Texas has led the nation in total workplace deaths in 11 of the past 14 years.

Besides California, other large states saw far fewer on-the-job deaths last year than Texas. Florida, for instance, had 239 and New York registered 178, the latest figures show. 

 

Adjusting for population, Texas ranked 17th in workplace deaths in 2014.

Of course, Texas’ booming economy over the past decade has kept most of its residents employed, while drawing thousands of workers from other states — a significant factor when considering nationwide fatality data. The phenomenon meant a surge of jobs in particularly dangerous industries such as trucking, construction and oil and gas production. 

Still, last July, David Michaels who heads the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, lamented lax safety efforts in the state’s construction industry in particular, saying, “workers are not being given adequate protection” on job sites and in the state's safety net. 

Texas, for instance, is the only U.S. state that does not require employers to carry workers' compensation insuranceSome companies offer private insurance instead, but last spring, state officials said at least a half-million workers are not covered at all. 

In 2014, transportation accidents killed far more Texas workers — 237 — than any other event. 

Nationwide, transportation accidents accounted for 40 percent of all workplace deaths. The bureau says those numbers will probably rise when it revises the data, because it has yet to receive some key sources of information.

Hispanic or Latino workers accounted for nearly 17 percent of the U.S. deaths. About 40 percent of those workers were born in Mexico. State-by-state ethnic and racial data were not available Thursday.  

 

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