During the decades of the explosive growth of the railroad industry across the U.S., Congress passed the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) to protect injured workers. Approved in 1908, the FELA allows employees to sue their employer if negligence on the company’s behalf contributed in any way to their injuries. Prior to this law, uninsured railroad workers had no recourse against companies that showed disregard for their safety. According to the Association of American Railroads, Texas is home to the most miles of rail in the country, with the second highest number of workers. These employees are protected against unsafe practices and hazardous cost-cutting measures through the FELA.
As the leading employer of construction workers in the U.S., Texas is home to over 100,000 men and women who climb scaffolds, operate forklifts, and fill all the other essential roles in building everything from new offices to renovating old homes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among the busy schedules and quotes to meet, workers also face a high risk of injuries and even fatalities. The U.S. Department of Labor lists 89 construction fatalities in Texas in 2010, the second highest workplace fatality rate.
The oil and gas industry is booming across the U.S., particularly in states like Texas, California, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Texas produces over 1/3 of the country’s oil, giving a boost to local economies and providing thousands of jobs. However, the dangerous machinery and harsh conditions of the job create risks for workers than can lead to injuries and even death when accidents occur. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the fatality rate of oil and gas extraction workers from 2003 to 2010 was seven times higher than the rate of all other industries.
Preventable workplace accidents still occur far too frequently, when simple safety measures could have saved the day. Workers are entitled to a safe workplace that does not pose a risk of serious harm. Under the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) workers can ask OSHA to inspect their workplaces, and receive information and training about hazards, ways to prevent harm and applicable OSHA standards.