S. Nevada ASSE Members Continue Construction Safety Dialogue With Las Vegas Mayor
Des Plaines, IL (February 13, 2009) — The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Southern Nevada Chapter welcomed Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman as he spoke this week at their chapter meeting on the issue of providing a safe vacation destination and safe workplaces. Founded in 1911, ASSE is made up of more than 32,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professionals worldwide and is the oldest and largest safety society.
Chapter members also shared with the Mayor their insights on enhancing workplace safety in the greater Las Vegas area.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2007 worker fatalities declined overall in the construction industry in the U.S., but construction continued to incur the most fatalities of any industry in the private sector. Nevada was one of 19 states to report higher worker fatalities in 2007. In Nevada the BLS reports there were 49 fatal workplace injuries in 2006 compared with 68 in 2007. Of those 68 fatalities 28 were transportation related, seven were from workplace violence/homicides, 10 were from contact with objects and equipment, 17 were from falls and five were due to exposure to harmful substances or environments.
ASSE Southern Nevada Chapter President Dale Walsh reiterated the comments he provided recently during a Clark County Commissioners’ Worker Safety Roundtable at the chapter meeting. Some of the suggestions Walsh put forth at the meeting aimed at enhancing workplace safety in the community included: 1) the county evaluate building permit systems to identify where safety can be included –such as a requirement for a written site-specific safety plan and the identification of a qualified safety person to oversee its implementation on the job; 2) on a regular basis, train building inspectors to recognize and evaluate safety hazards on the job sites they inspect; and, 3) that the Owner Controlled Insurance Programs (OCIP)/ Contractor Controlled Insurance Program (CCIP) laws be re-evaluated to address more owner and contractor accountability and compare those requirements to those of other states, which could also include a re-evaluation of the qualifications and duties of the required on-site safety professionals.
“Though it is little consolation to the families of the workers who died on Las Vegas Strip projects recently, their deaths have not gone unnoticed. The attention brought to construction safety issues not only in Las Vegas but throughout the U.S. has reinvigorated a dialogue in government and the industry,” Walsh said. “That dialogue has brought needed change and will hopefully bring more improvements in the future to help assure that all workers go home to their families at the end of each work day. The examples set by companies such as URS and Chevron have shown it can be done and the members of the ASSE have always been and will continue to be there to provide their expertise in achieving the goal of a safe workplace.”
In Las Vegas in 2007 six workers died at MGM Mirage’s $9.2 billion CityCenter project and two died at the adjacent $3.5 billion Cosmopolitan between February 2007 and June 2008. The projects are among the largest commercial construction projects in the world.
At the same time thousands of workers continue to go to and return home from work safely every day due, in part, to the work of occupational safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals committed to protecting people, property and the environment.
At a recent ASSE construction safety symposium, members noted that without effective safety, health and environmental programs a company’s reputation and overall business can be shattered. At the conference, one presenter gave an example of how an effective safety process resulted in the savings of millions of dollars for one company. As a result of a large U.S. oil company, Chevron, going above and beyond when it came to safety in building a large multi-billion dollar plant in the Middle East, they finished the project three months ahead of time, 20 million dollars under budget and set a company record. They had 13 million hours of work with only three recorded injuries. The presenter noted Chevron put safety first, treated all workers equally, and provided training in all languages, personal protection equipment, great working conditions and much, more.
Another example is that of URS – Washington Division which has safety as their core value. They have seen their workers comp costs reduced by 70 percent in five years and noted the pillars of their safety culture are integrity and candor, safety, accountability and responsibility, cooperation and efficiency, and competence and professional behavior. URS has 25,000 employees in 40 states and 30 countries; have managed 84 million exposure hours with a total recordable case rate of .80, and a .10 days away case rate. One of the projects URS is working on is the multi-year, multi-million dollar project called the Olmstead Dam project.
Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the largest and oldest professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its more than 32,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, health care and education. For more information please go to www.asse.org The ASSE Southern Nevada Chapter was chartered in 1968 and currently has over 150 members with a mission to promote safety, health, and the environment (SH&E) and the SH&E profession in the State of Nevada. The chapter offers educational meetings, seminars, conventions and networking opportunities. Go to http://www.asselv.org/ for more information.