According to the latest report of the National Safety Council, Texas continues to pull up the rear when it comes to safety, having received an overall grade of ‘D.’ The Texas powers that be may attempt to paint a much rosier picture by pointing out that Texas actually ranked a lofty 26th in comparison to all 50 states, but escaping a D rating will be hard to do.
Much more important is the ranking of ‘F’ in workplace safety, where its policies were ranked 32nd in the nation. The policies were considered “off track” when it comes to workers’ compensation, worker health and worker well-being. I think I know how we got here.
In 1987, Texas took juries – people like yourselves – out of the equation. Texas went to the Russian form of accountability under the untenable position that the workers’ rights to turn to the courts to hold reckless employers accountable in assessing damages – which weren’t much to begin with – was simply too costly and ‘unpredictable’ for Texas. More important to the legislature was that Texas be ‘business friendly,’ and of course that meant that accountability for needless injury and death would be sacrificed. Accordingly, Texas adopted an administrative approach whereby workers would not only have their compensation drastically reduced, but representation by lawyers would be darned near impossible since the new system would leave little chance for court and legal intervention, and the only lawyers appearing at hearings would be those representing insurance companies. Workers in turn are left with a ‘once size fits all’ form of compensation for injuries, and those benefits are meager and decided by an administrator.
Given the above, Texas indeed became ‘business friendly,’ but the price is needless injury and death. Texas businesses have little reason to fear parting with the money they make off the backs of their workers as penalties for employers are a joke – at least to all but their victims. Accountability is now a distant memory of a time before juries were silenced by lawmakers answering only to lobbyists.
The final result? Texas gets an ‘F’ when it comes to workplace safety, and that is no reason to brag on the State.
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