Texas 'Death Star Bill' could leave construction workers 'fatigued, disoriented, dehydrated': report

Texas 'Death Star Bill' could leave construction workers 'fatigued, disoriented, dehydrated': report
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R), Image via lev radin/Shutterstock.

Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed legislation earlier this week that "poses serious health risks" to construction workers, Texas Public Radio (TPR) reports.

Per TPR, HB 2127 — known as the Texas Regulatory Consistency Act — "bars cities and counties from passing regulations that are stricter than state ones. It also overturns local rules such as ordinances in Austin and Dallas that mandate rest breaks for construction workers."

Republican State Rep. Dustin Burrows, who proposed the "Death Star Bill," insisted "the law is needed to end 'the current hodgepodge of onerous and burdensome regulations,'" but TPR notes "for construction workers in two of the state's fastest-growing cities, advocates say, it poses serious health risks."

READ MORE: Neither 'compassion' nor 'leadership': Greg Abbott blasted for calling shooting victims 'illegal immigrants'

Mario Ontiveros told TPR "he once saw a co-worker lose consciousness and fall from a ladder," and due to his previous "safety training," the Texas construction worker "was the only one on the job site who knew how to help — performing CPR and asking his co-worker basic questions to keep him conscious — until paramedics arrived, he said."

The Texas Tribune reports:

Texas is the state where the most workers die from high temperatures, government data shows. At least 42 workers died in Texas between 2011 and 2021 from environmental heat exposure, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers’ unions claim this data doesn’t fully reflect the magnitude of the problem because heat-related deaths are often recorded under a different primary cause of injury.

Furthermore, according to TPR, "Research published in 2018 — eight years after Austin passed its rest-break ordinance — found that construction workers were 35% more likely to get a break because of the rule."

Daniela Hernandez, state legislative coordinator for Texas advocacy group Workers Defense Action Fund, said, "We know that workers do pass out and experience heat stress and different types of heat illnesses."

READ MORE: Gov. Greg Abbott leaves experts stunned as he injects politics into Texas' criminal justice system

Paul Puente, executive secretary of the Houston Gulf Coast Building and Construction Trades Council, said the "Death Star Bill" is expected to "strike down construction-worker protections in southeast Texas," and "negatively impact construction safety as a whole," even though "labor unions can still negotiate for rest breaks."

He emphasized "Science has already shown that individuals need to have time to take a break, collect their thoughts, and then return back to work to ensure a safe working environment," and "Without allotted rest breaks in extreme heat," he told TPR "workers can easily become fatigued, disoriented, dehydrated — effects that endanger their lives."

Calling the state "unsafe" for construction workers, Puente added, "when you're trying to encourage businesses to come to your state, this is not a good look."

TPR reports the law is set to go into effect Sept. 1.

READ MORE: 'Absolutely insane': Texas Governor Greg Abbott seeks pardon for man convicted of murdering BLM protester

Texas Public Radio's full report is available at this link. The Texas Tribune's report is here.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}
@2023 - AlterNet Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. - "Poynter" fonts provided by fontsempire.com.