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West Texas Explosion Shows Folly, Danger of State’s ‘Business-Friendly’ Posture

Monday, April 22, 2013
Press Contacts: 

 

Dorry Samuels, (508) 277-7997, dorry.samuels@gmail.com

West Texas Explosion Shows Folly, Danger of State’s ‘Business-Friendly’ Posture

Though Gov. Rick Perry Calls Explosion a ‘Nightmare,’ Anti-Regulatory Environment He Touts Is To Blame

The tragic explosion at West Fertilizer Company last week that has killed at least 14 people and injured an additional 140-plus shows the dangers of the anti-regulatory environment that thrives in Texas, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) said today.

In February, National COSH had noted that although Texas Gov. Rick Perry touted Texas companies’ profits and few regulations at a California press conference intended to lure businesses to the Lone Star State, Texas consistently has a worker fatality rate double that of California.

“Last week’s tragic explosion portrays what can – and does – happen to workers and communities when a priority on profits outweighs public health and safety,” said Tom O’Connor, executive director of National COSH. “Widespread disregard for workers’ wellbeing is clearly evidenced in the state’s consistently high rate of on-the-job fatalities.”

Consider:

  • From 2008 through 2011, 1,839 workers were killed on the job in Texas, compared to 1,560 in California, despite California having a population some 40 percent greater than Texas.  
  • If Texas’s worker fatality rate were the same as California’s during this four-year period, some 795 Texas workers who were killed on the job would still be alive. 
  • California, like Texas, has a complex, diverse economy with great number of workers employed in some of the most dangerous industries: agriculture, construction, oil/gas exploration and refining, and logging. California also has a huge and diverse foreign-born worker population, which is known to be more vulnerable to workplace injury and death. California also suffered through a grave financial crisis during this period, which reduced its staffing levels and left its OSHA program severely understaffed.  
  • Lack of employer compliance with OSHA regulations, not just hazardous work, is responsible for many of these worker deaths in the Lone Star State. A recent analysis by the San Antonio Express found in an investigation of oil field deaths in South Texas that in every case, employers had violated one or more OSHA safety standards.  

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health will continue to highlight worker fatalities and how to prevent them this week during Workers’ Memorial Week of Action (April 22-28). Visit www.workersmemorialweek.org to learn more.

Read National COSH’s statement last week about the explosion and the regulatory failures contributing to it.

Read National COSH’s February statement about Gov. Rick Perry and the anti-regulatory sentiment in Texas.

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The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health is a federation of local and statewide organizations; a private, non-profit coalition of labor unions, health and technical professionals, and others interested in promoting and advocating for worker health and safety.

To learn more about the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, visit: http://www.coshnetwork.org.