The Workers Defense Project (WPD) received a victory this month when the Travis County Commissioners Court granted the request that would ensure Austin construction workers will receive better treatment. The court ruling means that Travis County will adopt the standards of Better Builder, which is a program dedicated to ensuring construction workers have safer working conditions.
The program looks to set a higher standard on construction work safety than is the minimum legal requirement, which often goes unenforced anyway.
What are the Better Builder Standards?
Although the construction industry is booming in Austin, construction workers are subjected to lower wages and unsafe working conditions. In 2014, approximately 166 workplace deaths were reported in Texas construction sites. More than 60 percent of these workers who lost their lives did not receive training. Worse, Texas is an “opt-out” state, which means employers are not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. As such, the families of these workers did not receive assistance.
The Better Builder standards include better wages for workers, federal safety training, on-site monitoring and workers’ compensation. The standards are being applied to the North Campus redevelopment project, as well as public improvement projects.
Thanks You, Travis County, For Helping Workers Stay Safe
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an estimated 6.5 million people work at construction sites nationwide. Unfortunately, construction companies are prone to skimp on safety standards to meet project deadlines or save money, which puts workers at risk for the following:
- Fall hazards
- Electric shock
- Trench collapses
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Scaffolding collapses
- Swinging equipment
- Slip and fall hazards
According to OSHA, nearly all worksite accidents are avoidable if companies are properly training workers, providing proper safety gear and complying with OSHA standards. Hopefully, this ruling takes Austin a step in the right direction in protecting its construction workers.