NPR released two articles this past week examining the dangers of the Texas construction industry and the too-common practices that often lead to wage theft, poor work conditions and injuries.
Commercial construction and homebuilding are staples of the state’s economy. Years of illegal immigration have driven down wages of construction workers. The economic crash of 2008 brought its own issues besides the decrease in construction. Many workers make far less than minimum wage and often take home $4 or $5 an hour. The workers cheated out of their wages or paid very low wages continue working because of the promise of pay from one week to another. These workers are often classified as independent contractors rather than employees. The classification of independent workers makes them responsible for their state and federal taxes.
The issue of pay is coupled with the dangerous nature of the job. According to the Worker’s Defense Project, there were 10.7 deaths per 100,000 Texas construction workers in 2010. In comparison, California had a rate of 5.2 deaths per 100,000 construction workers. The study also revealed one in every five Texas construction workers will require hospitalization due to injuries sustained on the job.
Doyle has represented many clients over the years whose injuries were a result of poor work conditions and an employer’s failure to honor their obligation to safety. The construction industry in a dangerous field in Texas and regulation is the ultimate route to safety.