Coronavirus Shutdown Puts Construction Workers in New Danger
On March 31, 2020, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo extended a “Stay-at-Home” order until April 30. The order requires all county residents to stay at their place of residence except for Essential Activities and for all businesses within Harris County to cease activities unless employees could work from home or the business was deemed essential.
Judge Hidalgo defined essential businesses as those that fall within the 16 critical infrastructure sectors identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Additionally, those working in local “infrastructure, development, operation and construction services including public works construction, housing
construction, commercial, manufacturing, oil refining, roads, and highways, public transportation and telecommunications systems.”
Now more than ever, construction workers are asked to put their lives on the line. It is critical that employers provide a safe work environment. Failure to follow safety regulations can have deadly consequences.
Texas Construction Accidents
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in Texas, there were 105 fatal injuries to construction and extraction workers. The majority of those fatalities were the result of falls and transportation incidents. Construction fall protection standards were the most frequently cited violations, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Many of these work-related injuries and deaths are preventable if companies follow safety guidelines issued by OSHA and other regulatory agencies.
In 2015, the Texas Tribune reported on the “Lax Safety Culture” surrounding construction firms in the Houston-area. The head of OSHA was reported as saying that “More construction workers in Texas die on the job than in any other state.” According to their reporting, three construction firms were fined “nearly $800,000 in total penalties” because of their dangerous
When a company puts its workers in danger by failing to follow safety procedures, failing to train employees adequately, or failing to inspect job sites regularly, they can be held liable for injuries that result on the job. Proving Gross Negligence in a Construction Accident In the State of Texas, a construction worker injured on the job may recover under the theory of gross negligence if an employers “act or omission:
(A) Which when viewed objectively from the standpoint of the actor at the time of its occurrence involves an extreme degree of risk, considering the probability and magnitude of the potential harm to others; and
(B) Of which the actor has actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved, but nevertheless proceeds with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others.”
Recovering damages under gross negligence requires an intimate knowledge of the law. If you were injured at a construction site, you need to speak with an experienced Houston Personal Injury Attorney that can discuss your legal options. Gross negligence can result in catastrophic injuries or even death to a construction worker; wrongful parties must be held liable.