Nevada Bill Aims to Improve Construction Safety

A measure to improve safety training for construction site employees was endorsed recently by workers and labor leaders, a key state lawmaker, a major contractor and the head of Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said AB148 has broad support from construction industry workers and employers. Scores of workers and union representatives crowded into hearing rooms in Carson City and Las Vegas to back the bill.

Danny Thompson, head of the state AFL-CIO, said the training imposed by AB148, written following the deaths of 12 workers at Las Vegas Strip construction sites over an 18-month period, “is the very least that we should require.”

Thompson said worker safety training is needed statewide, not just in the Las Vegas area. He mentioned an explosion several years ago at a recycling plant in northern Nevada that killed one worker and severely burned four others. The workers were draining aerosol cans by puncturing them with metal spikes.

Nevada OSHA chief Tom Czehowski also spoke in favor of the bill during the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee hearing. Czehowski said AB148 needed some revisions but he supported the concept of the bill.

Also supporting the measure was Lesley Pittman, representing Perini Building Co., the general contractor for the $9.2 billion CityCenter on the Strip.

Safety concerns came to a head last year after the death of a sixth worker at the CityCenter project. That led to a one-day strike by workers to protest conditions, and federal state and local officials increased their oversight.

Nevada OSHA also investigated the deaths of two workers at the Orleans hotel-casino in Las Vegas. The workers died and another worker was hospitalized in early 2007. The men had been trying to clear blocked grease traps at the resort.

The bill would require 10 hours of safety training for such employees, along with 30 hours of safety training for supervisors. Companies would have to drop workers that don’t get the training in a timely manner.