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Injury and Illness
illnesses reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cumulative
trauma disorders accounted for fifty-five percent of all occupational
illnesses in Texas.
rural counties experience occupational injury fatalities at a rate
eighty-two percent greater than urban counties.
Construction remains the industry division in Texas with the
highest fatality rate and the only industry not demonstrating
declining rates since 1980. Data were not available by firm size or
other company characteristics.
packing plant workers in Texas experience an extraordinarily high
injury rate (37.4 per 100 full-time workers per year), which exceeds
the already high U.S. rate by thirty-five percent.
D. Special populations
Texas death certificates from 1980-1990, each year on average, eleven
children were killed on the job in Texas. Further, in 1991, over 1,000
injuries and illnesses among children less than 18 years of age were
reported to the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission.
special studies of occupational injury and illness in Texas indicated
a disproportionate representation of Hispanic workers.
projections suggest that workers' compensation payments in 1990 would
have been over 41.2 percent below actual workers' compensation
payments, implying that the enormous growth in the program in the
1980s was primarily due to factors other than changes in the work
force size, industrial structure, national trends in injury and
illness incidence rates, or wage rates.
estimated fourteen percent of Texas private sector workers are
potentially exposed to upper extremity cumulative trauma, six percent
to crystalline silica, and five percent to noise (shown to be related
to cumulative trauma disorders, silicosis, and noise-induced hearing
service industries of various types also had risks of potential
exposures in addition to traditionally hazardous industries.
data for measuring agricultural worker exposure to pesticides within
Texas are not available.
percentage of the Texas work force is estimated to work in indoor
non-industrial environments in Texas at risk of health effects from
indoor air pollution. However, no information on the prevalence of
indoor air pollution is available in Texas.
after several years of the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) hazard communication standard being in place,
the largest category for OSHA serious citations is hazard
communication. IV. Human
Texas, there is a shortage of comprehensively trained core
occupational health professionals (physicians, nurses, industrial
hygienists, and safety professionals).
than 150 additional occupational medicine physicians, 100 primary care
practitioners with occupational medicine training, and 1,600
occupational health nurses are needed to meet current occupational
health service demands in Texas. Although not quantifiable, there is a
shortage of professionals in nearly all areas of industrial hygiene
geographic areas, such as the Rio Grande Valley, are particularly
affected by these shortages. This may be partially attributed to the
minimal number of programs in Texas providing specialized training in
than half of the nurses who work for business and industry in Texas
possess a baccalaureate degree. This degree is the minimum requirement
for 1995 applications for professional certification.
a lack of occupational health content in curricula in medical and
nursing schools, as well as in training programs for other
occupational health-related professional disciplines (occupational
therapy, physical therapy, vocational rehabilitation specialists, and
With prevention as the
single overriding focus for prioritization, this study developed policy
options to address the following three major areas which would improve
occupational safety and health in Texas: occupational safety and health
surveillance, programs, and professionals. The final chapter of this
report (Chapter 7) provides a more comprehensive list of policy options
and associated areas of needed research. Following are selected policy
options for each area which merit strongest consideration:
OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH SURVEILLANCE
Designate a lead agency to identify and coordinate the surveillance and
prevention efforts across the multiple state agencies that play a role in
occupational safety and health. Initiate surveillance and prevention
efforts for minors lawfully working.
and evaluate the role, purpose, and scope of Texas Workers' Compensation
Commission claim data collection efforts in relation to occupational
safety and health surveillance needs for the State.
Systematically collect and analyze data on public employees in Texas.
Continue participation of Texas in the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics
Annual Survey of private employees.
and expand Texas Department of Health's participation in the Sentinel
Event Notification System for Occupational Risks (SENSOR), a program for
identification and prevention of occupational diseases.
and evaluate Bureau of Labor Statistics survey data on detailed
characteristics of fatal and nonfatal injuries and illnesses using the
newly redesigned occupational safety and health coding system
coding of usual occupation and industry on Texas death
employer adherence to reporting fatal occupational injuries to the Texas
Workers' Compensation Commission. Increase inspections and safety
consultations for the workplace fatalities that OSHA does not
a Texas agency to develop an index of relative exposure hazard among types
of industries (not specific companies) that can be periodically
the involvement of the insurance industry in efforts to collection
occupational health and related medical cost data.
OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH PROGRAMS
prevention and training programs based on leading causes of death (motor
vehicle and homicide), leading types of injuries and illnesses (back
injuries, cumulative trauma), high-risk workplaces (construction, meat
packing plants, agriculture), and special populations (minority, migrant,
and support widespread employer institution of comprehensive occupational
safety and health programs.
the establishment of occupational safety and health programs that meet
OSHA's Voluntary Guidelines, which include four major elements: (1)
management commitment and employee involvement; (2) worksite analysis of
current or potential hazards; (3) hazard prevention and control; and (4)
safety and health training.
SAFETY AND HEALTH PROFESSIONALS
more opportunities for training of individuals to become occupational
safety and health professionals in Texas.
(b) Provide a
better distribution of professionals and services to the Rio Grande Valley
area of Texas.
the quality and content of the occupational health curriculum in medical
and nursing schools and training programs in related occupational safety
and health professions. Increase awareness of the importance of
controlling safety and health in the workplace as a business operation
component by including relevant courses in business school curricula.
Evaluate the content and availability of continuing education courses for
University of Houston Health Law and Policy Institute was awarded a
special line item from the Texas legislature to direct and implement the
study, "Occupational Injury and Illness in Texas." This study was an
interdepartmental and inter-institutional collaboration between the
University of Houston Health Law and Policy Institute, the University of
Houston Department of Economics, and The University of Texas School of
Public Health at Houston (Southwest Center for Occupational and
Environmental Health). The major objectives of the study were to document
the magnitude and economic costs of occupational injury and illness in
Texas, to describe occupational exposures, to evaluate human resources in
occupational health and safety in Texas, to identify policy options for
prevention of injury and illness, and to make recommendations for future
Organization of the Report
Chapter 1 of
the report presents a history of general occupational safety and health
activity in Texas, along with a brief history of surveillance of
occupational injuries and illnesses in Texas. Chapter 2 presents estimates
of the burden of occupational injury and illness for Texas. Chapter 3
describes the magnitude of specific injury and illness conditions and
specific worker populations. Chapter 4 describes the population of workers
in Texas, reviews the potential hazardous occupational exposures in Texas,
and estimates the number of workers likely to be exposed to these hazards.
Chapter 5 presents estimates of the economic consequences of occupational
injuries and illnesses. Chapter 6 documents Texas resources available for
the prevention and treatment of occupational injuries and illnesses.
Chapter 7 discusses policy options and recommends areas for