Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis addressed the annual gathering of the American Society of Safety Engineers on Monday in San Antonio, applauding the efforts of the nation's safety and health professionals.

Solis also announced that the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will launch a major construction safety initiative in Texas to prevent workplace injuries and fatalities.

"Beginning in July, OSHA will increase the number of inspectors in Texas for a concentrated effort to prevent injuries and fatalities at construction sites,” Solis said. “When these inspectors observe unsafe scaffolds, fall risks, trenches or other hazards, they are empowered to launch an immediate investigation. As I have said since my first day on the job — the U.S. Department of Labor is back in the enforcement business."

More workers die in Texas than in any other state. In 2008, there were 67 construction industry fatalities, and in 2009 there already have been 33. The rate of Hispanic fatalities in construction is especially alarming, having increased by 125 percent between 1992 and 2005. In 2007 and 2008, more than 3,000 inspections were conducted by OSHA in southeastern states. The agency cited a total of 4,390 violations.

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