Las Vegas Sun

July 24, 2014

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Low expectations for construction safety meeting

Despite a congressional hearing this week in Washington D.C. that put construction safety in Las Vegas center stage, expectations are low for a public meeting here on Saturday to discuss the same issue.

The primary reason is logistical. Many public officials and other people who planned to attend will instead be in Carson City for the legislature's special session, which begins Friday and could run through the weekend.

"It's certainly a monkey wrench," said Steve Redlinger, a consultant for the Southern Nevada Building and Trades Council. "It looks like attendance is going to be paltry." The meeting was organized by the building and trades council and Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani.

Redlinger said he sent out at least 200 invitations to elected officials, labor leaders, contractors up and down the Strip, officials at the state and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and others. Those who had accepted the invitation but are expected to miss the meeting include Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera and Senate Minority Leader Steven Horsford, both Democrats.

Organizers had been hoping Horsford, Oceguera, and other legislators would attend to discuss the state's role in OSHA oversight and in passing legislation that could increase worker safety. Redlinger is also expecting many union leaders, who have recently been heavily involved in efforts to increase safety at CityCenter and other projects on the Strip, to be in Carson City for the session.

As of now, still scheduled to attend the meeting are Giunchigliani, Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman, Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid, Associated General Contractors vice president Steve Holloway, Rick Johnson, president of the building trades, and Steve Ross, executive-treasurer of the building trades and Las Vegas city council member.

Giunchigliani has said she would like the meeting to highlight ways that local government might get involved in construction safety oversight.

At the congressional hearing Tuesday, Education and Labor Committee chairman George Miller, D-Calif, weighed in on that prospect, using New York City as an example.

"Because of the lack of federal OSHA resources in the city, New York City decided to step in to address the hazards that the city's construction boom has presented," Miller said. "The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the agency responsible for workplace safety. But workers might be best served by vigorous OSHA enforcement coupled with renewed efforts by cities and states to make construction sites safer."

Miller, however, acknowledged there could be legal and budgetary hurdles.

"While we commend New York City for its activity in this area, it is unclear whether other, smaller cities have the same ability to put resources into construction safety that New York has," Miller said.

The construction safety roundtable will be held at the Clark County Government Center June 28th from 11am to 2pm, and is open to the public.

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