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The recent deaths of three construction workers while building Marathon Oil’s new headquarters in Houston exemplify the dangers faced every day by people employed in the construction industry. The three workers died on Oct. 5 when a concrete staircase collapsed during construction of the 15-story building.

According to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), fewer construction workers died in workplace accidents in 2018 compared with the previous year. However, construction remains one of the most dangerous industries for Texas workers. The TDI reported that 107 people died in construction-related accidents that year, accounting for 22% of the 488 workplace fatalities in the state.

Falls, slips and trips leading cause

Construction-related fatalities in Texas decreased nearly 20% in 2018, compared with the 133 fatalities reported in 2017. However, construction ranked second among industries with the most workplace fatalities. The trade, transportation and utilities industry reported the most workplace fatalities with 168 or 34%.

Falls, slips and trips represented the leading cause of death among construction workers in Texas in 2018. Here is a breakdown of the 107 construction-related deaths in the state that year:

  • Falls, slips and trips: 35
  • Transportation incidents: 25
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments: 20
  • Contact with objects and equipment: 14
  • Violence or injuries by persons or animals: 7
  • Fires and explosions: 6

Construction occupations that reported the most fatalities included: foundation, structure and building contractors with 27 deaths; building equipment contractors with 20; utility system construction workers, 16; and roofing contractors and building finishing contractors with 12 each.

Improved training and safety standards may help minimize construction fatalities like the ones that recently happened in Houston. However, blame for such incidents often is placed squarely on the shoulders of building companies and employers for negligence.