OSHA Cracking Down on Texas Construction Sites

Texas leads the nation in construction-related fatalities

It’s a tough job, but it's especially dangerous in Texas. The state leads the nation in construction-related deaths with 142 in 2007, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Dallas residents faced the urgency of the situation when Timothy Mackinnon, a 45-year-old man from Arlington, died during construction of the Dallas Cowboy stadium after touching a high-voltage line in 2008. It was the second accident in a week at the new stadium. A few days prior, a crane accident sent three workers to the hospital.

In June, another construction worker fell to his death on a site in Richardson. The company employing him, Sills-Swindell Inc., received a fine from OSHA for failing to protect workers on elevated platforms. OSHA proposed penalties totaling $60,000 for that and other violations at the site.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis recently announced that a crack-down in Texas would take place under her leadership.

"Beginning in July, OSHA will increase the number of inspectors in Texas for a concentrated effort to prevent injuries and fatalities at construction sites. When these inspectors observe unsafe scaffolds, fall risks, trenches or other hazards, they are empowered to launch an immediate investigation," announced Secretary Solis. "As I have said since my first day on the job -- the U.S. Department of Labor is back in the enforcement business,” she said at the annual gathering of the American Society of Safety Engineers in San Antonio on June 29.

Incidents worth investing abound. Of the 3,000 inspections conducted by OSHA in southeastern states, the agency reported 4,390 violations.

The number of Hispanic fatalities has particularly drawn concern. It increased by 125 percent between 1992 and 2005.

Holly LaFon has written and worked for various local publications including D Magazine and Examiner.

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