In Light Of Worker Deaths, City Of Houston Is Improving Worker Standards For Housing Projects

Texas leads the country in deaths caused by work-related accidents. A fifth of all worker fatalities statewide take place in Houston — a total of 101 people in 2017.

Tamara Fitzgerald speaks about the death of her son, Christian who was killed after an accident at work.

The city of Houston is rolling out a new initiative to improve worker standards for some of their Harvey recovery housing.

The announcement comes as local officials pay tribute to the 101 workers in Houston who lost their lives during 2017. Sunday, April 28 is Workers’ Memorial Day.

The city will be improving safety standards, paying higher wages and offering trainings for workers that help build new multi-family housing.

The new standards will apply to roughly a third of construction funded through the $1.2 billion dollar federal Harvey recovery housing grant.

Ray Miller is Assistant Director of Multifamily and Public Facilities for the city and said the improved standards are part of a pilot program.

“We're in the first phase of administering $350 million for multi-family development and we're administering the first $100 million now that implements these standards,” said Miller.

“We roll out the next program for the next $100 million next year and then we're going to lay on additional standards on top of that,” he said.

The initiative is aimed at improving worker conditions as Texas leads the country in worker deaths.

Tamara Fitzgerald lost her son Christian in a forklift accident in 2017.

“Christian was more than a worker on this day,” she said. “This earth lost a brother who loved joking with his brothers and sisters. This earth lost a nephew and friend who loved playing basketball, card games and dominoes.”

A fifth of all worker deaths statewide took place in Houston.

They frequently impact low-wage workers in industries like construction.

In Houston, several congregations will be holding vigils for deceased workers this coming Saturday and Sunday.

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Elizabeth Trovall

Elizabeth Trovall

Immigration Reporter

Elizabeth Trovall is an immigration reporter for Houston Public Media. She joined the News 88.7 team after several years abroad in Santiago, Chile, where she reported on business, energy, politics and culture. Trovall's work has been featured on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, Latino...

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