Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2014

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Construction Deaths

Harold "Rusty" Billingsley's hard hat and work boots are reminders of the job that led to the ironworker's death Oct. 5 while working on CityCenter.

Photo by Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Harold "Rusty" Billingsley's hard hat and work boots are reminders of the job that led to the ironworker's death Oct. 5 while working on CityCenter.

Construction workers had been dying at a rate of one every six weeks in the $32 billion building boom on the Las Vegas Strip. But deaths stopped last year after the Las Vegas Sun exposed serious safety flaws on the sites and detailed how lax oversight by safety regulators failed to prevent accidents.

The stories forced state and federal investigations and became the subject of hearings in the U.S. House and Senate. Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid and others sent a letter to President Bush demanding safety reforms in the Labor Department.

As the Sun pursued the story, the newspaper reported on cozy relationships existing between safety regulators and builders. Angered by the revelations and continuing death toll, workers walked off the job at MGM Mirage's CityCenter, shutting down the largest private commercial development in U.S. history until the contractors agreed to safety improvements.

Twelve workers had died in 18 months. But after the improvements, the deaths stopped. No workers have died since June 2008.

This page features the Sun's series, which includes stories, a video, an interactive and documents from OSHA concerning the deaths, plus follow-up stories.

Archive highlights

Pace is the new peril

Sun, Mar 30, 2008

In the shadows of the cranes, steel and concrete upon which Las Vegas has pinned its addiction to growth, a body count has emerged. Nine construction workers have died in ...

OSHA goes easy

Mon, Mar 31, 2008

Hundreds of construction workers signed a 10-foot long memorial poster for the family of Harold Billingsley after the 46-year-old ironworker plunged to his death at CityCenter last year. Four months ...

'Not in this city'

Tue, Apr 1, 2008

The disturbing rash of worker deaths at casinos, condos and hotels being built along the Strip raises safety issues that must be addressed, safety engineers and others say. But making ...

A CAUTIOUS PUSH

Sun, Apr 13, 2008

The 70-odd ironworkers working at the Fontainebleau construction site were fed up with dangerous conditions. In July, they stopped working in the unsafe areas and persuaded their union, Ironworkers Local ...

All stories

Sun wins the Pulitzer Prize

Tue, Apr 21, 2009

The Las Vegas Sun on Monday won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service — journalism’s most prestigious award — for its investigation of construction deaths on the Las Vegas Strip ...

Worker safety advocate named to head fed OSHA

Wed, Apr 8, 2009

Jordan Barab, a prominent worker safety advocate and a senior policy adviser overseeing worker safety legislation for the House Education and Labor Committee, will become the acting head of the ...

Debate on home defect law heats up

Thu, Apr 2, 2009

A fierce dispute over the way Nevada resolves homeowners’ claims of construction defects broke open before a legislative committee Wednesday. Legislation being considered pits builders and subcontractors against attorneys for ...

Plan would weigh construction bidders’ safety along with price

Fri, Mar 27, 2009

This past summer, when the Clark County Commission voted to grant a $1.2 billion airport construction contract to Perini Building Co., safety issues were hardly raised despite widespread concerns over ...

OSHA revamp bill targets industry influence

Tue, Mar 24, 2009

A Nevada lawmaker is proposing legislation to overhaul the structure of the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The bill would place Nevada OSHA under the purview of an existing ...

Families emote, labor mobilizes

Thu, Mar 12, 2009

Union leaders, absent from an earlier hearing, turned out in force Wednesday to urge lawmakers to protect Nevada workers with a combination of safety training and stronger enforcement of safety ...

Labor, builders unite to endorse bill to require training

Sat, Mar 7, 2009

A bill that would require 10 hours of safety training for construction workers received support from union members and contractors who turned out in Carson City and Las Vegas for ...

Strip deaths sent message on safety, OSHA chief testifies

Thu, Mar 5, 2009

The head of the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration told lawmakers Wednesday that the run of construction fatalities on the Las Vegas Strip “was a tragic situation that I ...

Resumes get scant inspection

Sun, Feb 22, 2009

One of the CityCenter inspectors who failed to spot serious errors at the Harmon high rise was approved by Clark County to monitor complex construction projects after submitting a curious ...

Perini heeds safety critique

Thu, Feb 19, 2009

Perini Building Co. will take a number of steps to improve workplace safety, including responding more quickly to safety concerns and establishing a phone number for confidential reporting of safety ...

Reports suggest fixes for CityCenter safety problems

Wed, Feb 18, 2009

The Center for Construction Research and Training unveiled a series of reports Wednesday that aim to diagnose and recommend fixes for safety problems endangering workers at the CityCenter and Cosmopolitan ...

Big Apple’s big lesson on safety training

Fri, Feb 13, 2009

Faced with the same predicament as Las Vegas — a string of construction deaths — New York City has turned to worker safety training.

Dana Wiggins, labor relations manager of Associated General Contractors

Wed, Feb 11, 2009

Las Vegas-native Dana Wiggins has lived through many a construction boom. But nothing prepared him for what he witnessed the past few years as towers rose rapidly on the Strip ...

Industry leaders continue dialogue on safety

Thu, Jan 29, 2009

Safety professionals, union representatives and injured workers at a roundtable discussion of construction worker safety Wednesday agreed that a shift in construction safety in Las Vegas is under way.

A day to honor 2 for bravery on the job

Mon, Jan 26, 2009

On Feb. 2, David Snow plans to drag his battered body to Travis Koehler’s graveside. Snow’s and Koehler’s names will be always intertwined. The two fell unconscious together two years ...

Documents

The case of Willie Pelayo

General laborer foreman Willie Pelayo rode a malfunctioning buggy into an elevator shaft and was killed at Trump Dec. 5, 2006. OSHA initiated a two-month long investigation and issued a report that involved extensive documentation, including photographs and a complete evaluation of the buggy.

Here are some of the documents involved in the case:

Videos

Federal Hearing Focuses on Vegas
Federal Hearing Focuses on Vegas
The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee took aim at OSHA on Tuesday, citing the ...
Hopes of Change
Hopes of Change
Las Vegas retired ironworker George Cole discussed on Monday what he planned to say at ...
CityCenter Workers Strike
CityCenter Workers Strike
Construction workers shut down MGM Mirage's CityCenter at midnight Monday, walking off the job to ...
Cost of Expansion
Cost of Expansion
In the shadows of the cranes, steel, and concrete upon which Las Vegas has pinned ...

Slideshows

Construction Deaths
In the shadows of the cranes, steel, and concrete upon which Las Vegas has pinned ...

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