A new report assigns Texas a letter-grade of “F” for workplace safety. The National Safety Council’s “The State of Safety” report places Texas at No. 32 in its ranking of all states’ workplace safety.
In assessing workplace safety, the NSC looked at several factors, including:
- The maximum workers’ compensation benefit period for temporary disability
- The maximum workers’ compensation weekly benefit for permanent disability
- The existence of state laws regarding workplace violence
- State mandates for employer-sponsored illness/injury prevention programs.
As the only state that does not require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance or a private equivalent, Texas ranked low in the availability of injury benefits. It also received low marks for the absence of state laws promoting workplace health and wellness. However, the state is making some gains in addressing the problem of workplace violence.
Violence in the Workplace Becoming More Common
The NSC report says violence is now the third-leading cause of work-related fatalities, accounting for 16 percent of total workplace deaths. It’s especially prevalent in healthcare occupations; in 2015, the Texas Legislature authorized a study of workplace violence against nurses. The Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies conducted that research.
For the study, researchers interviewed 7,759 nurses and found that most had experienced some kind of violent act in the workplace in the past 12 months. Nurses reported threats, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, and physical violence. Incidents of physical violence were highest in nursing homes, where 17 percent of nurses said they have experienced physical violence in the previous 12 months.
Among nurses working at freestanding emergency centers (FEC), more than half said they had been subject to violence that they didn’t report, because violence was an accepted/expected part of their job. Nearly 40 percent of FECs offered no workplace violence training.
No Safety Net for Workers
The NSC report says an emerging issue in workplace safety is that temporary workers tend to have a high risk of injury, as well as fewer protections than actual employees. Temp workers may be working in construction, manufacturing, and other dangerous occupations, and, when injured, can’t count on benefits such as paid time off.
Texans, whether temporary workers or permanent full-time workers, may not receive any help from their employer if they suffer a serious injury. In 2014, The New York Times reported that about 500,000 Texas workers were employed by companies that didn’t carry workers’ compensation insurance or other insurance, meaning that those workers would receive no benefits if injured on the job. More than one million workers were covered by private corporate insurance, and those policies often offer very little in the way of coverage.
Large companies in Texas that carry no insurance count on the fact that they can defend themselves if an injured employee sues for damages. Their legal teams excel at digging up information that could cast doubt on the severity of and cause of an employee’s injury. That’s why injured workers need a personal injury attorney on their side.
If you have questions about your workplace injury, contact the attorneys at the Austin, TX-based Evans Law Firm. As personal injury attorneys with years of experience, we help the people of Texas put their lives back on track. We offer small law firm attention with big law firm results. Call today at 1-855-414-1012 or fill out this online contact form to find out how we can help you.