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December 19, 2014

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Follow-up to Round Table on safety finally scheduled

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TIFFANY BROWN / LAS VEGAS SUN FILE

County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani listens to Steve Ross, head of the local building trades council, during a Round Table meeting on construction safety in June.

Ross

Ross

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At the first Construction Worker Safety Round Table meeting held at the Clark County Government Center, building trades honcho Steve Ross painted a dire picture of the worker safety systems in the state.

“Workers’ compensation is broken. Nevada OSHA is broken. Our budget is broken,” Ross said.

The city council member and head of the Southern Nevada Building and Construction Trades Council vowed to come back to a second meeting with a list of policy proposals that could be put in place at the state or county level to improve worker safety.

That was in June — more than five months ago. The group hasn’t met since.

On Friday, Ross’s group and Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, who together organized the first Round Table, announced that the long-delayed second meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday evening at the same location.

“We are looking for people to come forward and give concrete suggestions for ways that local government, state government, and the federal government can make changes to existing laws or ordinances, or propose new laws or ordinances, to help improve safety,” Giunchigliani said in a statement released Friday.

In October, Giunchigliani sent out a list of policy suggestions that were raised at the first meeting. Those included giving a government agency the ability to shut down a site over safety, reviewing whether the county should allow 24-7 construction, addressing OSHA funding and staffing shortfalls, reviewing the connection between safety and the workers’ compensation system, and exploring how the county’s building department might become more involved in safety.

Also mentioned was the building trades’ plan to introduce legislation that would require 10 hours of safety training for all construction workers.

Building Trades spokesman Steve Redlinger said he sees the Round Table as an opportunity for various groups to air the worker safety-related proposals they plan to present to the legislature.

“Oftentimes the problem with the legislative session is that there are all these competing diverse interests and you don’t end up seeing meat of bills until the actual session,” Redlinger said. “This gives everyone opportunity to put their cards on table.”

Redlinger is also hoping — but not expecting — that representatives of Nevada OSHA will attend the session. They were absent last time and have been reluctant to comment publicly on worker safety issues.

In addition to Giunchigliani and Ross, expected attendees include Steve Holloway, vice president of Associated General Contractors; Marcus Conklin, chairman of the Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor; John Oceguera, the Assembly majority leader.

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