In Austin, new buildings seem to go up overnight. However, the city’s permitting process developers and contractors use to acquire building permits seems to take ages. The City of Austin has a huge backlog and permits took three times longer than standard wait times to gain approval. So, City Council created a voluntary, accelerated program to gain permits for commercial developments. If businesses pay a fee, Austin’s new expedited permit process would help construction plans get approved in one day.
However, many are concerned this new permit process would allow the city to overlook possible safety hazards while reviewing a request and put workers at risk for construction accidents. With that in mind, and likely due to the Workers Defense Rally for Worker Protections outside of City Hall, the council added worker protections to the expedited permit process. The worker protections requirements include the following:
- Workers be paid at least $13.03 per hour
- Workers receive workplace safety training with materials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- Workers must receive workers’ compensation, should they sustain on-the-job injuries
- Companies must meet a 30 percent local hiring goal
- Companies must comply with employment laws
- A third-party monitor must be placed on-site to ensure all of these standards are upheld
Austin’s City Council Showed It Values Workplace Safety
According to a study conducted in collaboration with the University of Texas, more construction workers die in Texas than in any other state. The study goes on to say one in five construction workers report sustaining serious injuries and 50 percent don’t receive overtime pay.
What’s worse is many of these injured construction workers do not receive workers’ compensation, which would typically cover medical bills and lost wages. Texas is an opt-out state, which means it does not require companies to have workers’ compensation insurance. Luckily, Austin City Council is showing construction workers it values their safety and is doing more to reduce the number of construction accidents.
The Law Offices of Aaron Allison is a personal injury law firm that fights for those injured in construction accidents in Austin, Texas.