Citing the high number of construction fatalities in Texas, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced recently that OSHA will start a new enforcement initiative targeting the construction industry in that state. Secretary Solis made the announcement in San Antonio at the annual conference of the American Society of Safety Engineers. Construction employers in Texas should take note of this new initiative and ensure that they continue to be fully compliant with OSHA standards.

While there are few details of the new enforcement initiative available, Secretary Solis stated that:

  • Beginning in July, OSHA will increase the number of inspectors in Texas; and
  • Inspectors will be authorized to launch an immediate investigation of a construction worksite, whenever they observe “unsafe scaffolds, fall risks, trenches or other hazards.”

Secretary Solis stated that in 2008, there were 67 construction fatalities in Texas and in 2009 there already have been 33 fatalities reported. According to the Secretary, more workers die in Texas than in any other state.

This initiative is just one part of OSHA’s expanded enforcement efforts under the new Labor Secretary. OSHA will be hiring over 100 new inspectors and issuing five new National Emphasis Programs.  In San Antonio, Secretary Solis reiterated her commitment to more enforcement: “As I have said since my first day on the job – the U.S. Department of Labor is back in the enforcement business.”

We will, of course, keep you informed as more details of this and other enforcement initiatives become available.