We’ve written in the past about ways that changes to workers’ compensation laws have been hurting injured workers. Now let’s talk about how some Texas companies are voluntarily changing things for the better.
Construction workers have shockingly little protection from work injury. According to Mike Holland, the chief operating officer of a major Houston contractor and vice chairman of the Construction Career Collaborative (C3), an organization designed to keep workers safe, substandard safety practices and poor wages for construction workers are fueled by the persistent attitude that construction workers are an infinite resource. There are so many willing to do construction work. Employers have an easy time taking advantage of them, especially undocumented workers who may fear deportation. And it’s not just the companies actively exploiting workers. Even the good companies are forced to cut corners through competition with other companies.
The Goal of C3 and the Austin Equivalent
C3 works to explain to workers through videos and training the rules that C3-accredited companies follow in order to protect workers from cheating and endangerment. These workers are all paid by hour, not by “piece” (a common term in construction work where workers are paid based on, for example, the amount of bricks laid). C3 affiliated employers are required to carry workers’ comp insurance, something not guaranteed by Texas law.
In Austin, a similar program called the Better Builder program was created in 2012. Companies subscribed to Better Builder must offer workers’ comp insurance, give safety training that adheres to federal guidelines and pay workers a living wage. These companies also must hire inspectors to ensure compliance with the program.