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This website is maintained by the Law Offices of Dean Malone, P.C., a Dallas, Texas law firm representing people across Texas for work injury cases. We have attempted to provide useful information for those harmed by work injuries.

Workers Beware, in the Aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Flooding in southeast Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

Watchdogs protecting the interests of workers, including undocumented immigrant workers, have been expressing concern about upcoming construction to rebuild after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and other states. Abuses have been discovered following similar natural disasters. Laborers have often been victims of wage theft; and they have also suffered from serious illnesses that resulted from lack of proper training and supervision, when working in potentially toxic environments. Emergency workers especially may be subject to exploitation, in efforts to speed up project completion and increase profits.

At any given time, according to a recent report from the Workers Defense Project based in Austin, Texas, 40% of construction workers in Houston do not have health insurance, sick leave, paid time off, or life insurance. The group also claims that one construction worker in Texas dies every three days, due to unsafe working conditions.

Director of the Better Builder Program at Workers Defense Project Bo Delp points out that every state in the U.S. requires a form of workers compensation coverage except Texas. He says that he fears the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey will result in worker exploitation on an unprecedented scale. So much construction is going on that exploitation can be expected to be rampant, between cleaning out many thousands of flooded homes and businesses as well as rebuilding, repairing, and remodeling.

Among the groups actively working to ensure safer conditions and better wages for workers during Harvey cleanup is the Houston Business Liaison. Sasha Legette is with the group and says Mayor Sylvester Turner has provided assurances that efforts are being made to ensure worker safety, in the rush to rebuild.

Employers have a responsibility to provide workers with safe work environments. When employers are found to be noncompliant with safety standards, they can be fined and penalized by federal agencies.

–Guest Contributor

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