Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Vegas Newspaper Editorial

Las Vegas Sun Editorial
The Editorial from the Las Vegas Sun really makes Horse Sense in urging officials to work more closely to assure that the jobsites in the Vegas area are safe places to work.

What is the payoff for preventing one incident
that stops any worker from being killed or maimed? What is the value of keeping all workers safe on the job?

A simple Horse Sense approach to a good safety program that is conformed to prevent the workers on any jobsite from unsafe acts is worth untold monetary costs from loss of income to the workers and their families, the cost of workers comp for medical expenses, the higher cost of insurance to the contractors and the loss of good, producing craftspersons on the site.

I have advocated in previous posts that I oppose individual state and city safety programs that substitute for Federal OSHA. There are just plain too many versions of too many safe work approaches from one of these programs to the basic OSHA nationwide standards. It is well known that many construction workers move from state to state to perform construction work. Variying safety procedures from state to state, city to city, et al are confusing and dangerous to workers if consistant regulations are issued.

I commend the Sun Times for this Editorial and hope and trust that, not only the safe work practices in the Las Vegas area, but across the nation will be closely followed during the 2009 year.

Improving safety

Officials should press in the next year to make changes to help protect workers

Tue, Dec 16, 2008 (2:07 a.m.)

In the wake of six construction deaths at the massive CityCenter project on the Las Vegas Strip, state and federal investigators found 109 safety violations, including 42 that could have resulted in serious injury.

That number is high given that the inspections came after the high-profile accidents and a worker protest about safety on the job.

For example, a Las Vegas Sun analysis of the investigators’ reports found there were 20 violations of standards designed to keep workers from falling. That is troubling considering falls killed two workers at CityCenter and two workers at the neighboring Cosmopolitan, which is being built by the same general contractor, Perini Building Co.

Perini has said it is doing all it can to make the workplace safe and blames the deaths on workers’ mistakes. However, the government investigators’ reports paint a picture of a systemic problem on the job site, and a failure of government oversight.

As we have said before, Congress should overhaul the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency created to protect workers. But this isn’t just a federal issue. Nevada has its own agency, a miniature version of OSHA, that regulates safety in the state, and like its federal counterpart, it is understaffed and doesn’t have the resources to do the job. State officials had to call in federal OSHA inspectors to conduct the CityCenter review because it didn’t have the resources to do the job.

While Congress moves toward changing federal OSHA, state and local leaders can make a difference in Nevada by working to improve the state agency and its regulations.

On Wednesday state and local government officials are scheduled to meet with union and construction leaders at the Clark County Government Center, following up on a meeting they held in June. They plan to discuss policy changes that could improve worker safety, including whether to allow the practice of round-the-clock construction.

State lawmakers should pay attention to this group’s ideas and make worker safety legislation a priority next year.

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