If you work in the construction industry, Las Vegas is a great place to be right now. While the city is always a hotspot for construction, it is on fire this year. There are a number of major projects underway right now totaling a whopping $23 billion. Some real estate experts in the area say this is the most commercial development that the city has seen in 100 years.
The projects include:
- NFL Stadium. This 65,000-seat venue is expected to open in late summer and will serve as the new home of the Raiders NFL team. It will have a translucent roof and sliding doors that can open to reveal a view of the Strip.
- Convention Center. With over 3 million square feet, the Las Vegas Convention Center is already one of the largest convention centers in the world and regularly hosts over 150,000 visitors per year. But an expansion project will add nearly 1.5 million square feet to the center by 2021. This will drive up a need for other facilities in the city, including hotel rooms, condominiums, etc. to support more visitors and workers.
- Resort World Casino Las Vegas. This sprawling resort covering nearly 90 acres on the north end of the Strip is expected to open in 2020. The Chinese-themed resort will add over 3,000 hotel rooms to the Strip as well as a casino, retail shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
- Madison Square Garden Sphere. This 17,500-seat venue is a high-tech, futuristic version of its New York City counterpart. The sphere-shaped arena will be located just off the Strip near the Venetian resort and feature a number of technological advances to enhance the concert experience—including thousands of LED screens across the interior and exterior of the venue and a sophisticated audio system that delivers sound through the floorboards.
- More hotels. And, of course, more hotels and resorts will continue to rise up near the Strip, including a 4,000-room Marriott resort known as The Drew Las Vegas that is slated to open this year. Other hotels include Circa, which will be the tallest tower north of the Strip and feature an elaborate swimming pool complex that can accommodate up to 4,000 people. The Wynn West is a new tower of the Wynn Casino and Resort complex that will be connected to the main resort by an overpass bridge and offer up to 3,000 guest rooms.
The National Center for Construction Education and Research estimates that the state will need nearly 90,000 skilled construction laborers in the next few years to keep up with the building boom. This will include carpenters, electricians, pipefitters, and more.
This presents more great news for the Vegas economy but also raises red flags when it comes to worker safety. According to the most recent statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), over 20% of worker fatalities in the private industry occurred among construction workers.
The following are the leading causes of death among construction workers (accounting for 60 percent of fatalities):
- Falling objects
- “Caught-in/between” accidents. These include being squeezed by equipment or objects or being struck or crushed in collapsing structures.
Other common injuries include:
- Broken bones. These commonly result from slips and falls or falling debris.
- Repetitive motion injuries. Since construction workers find themselves moving their muscles in the same way over and over again (think hammering, drilling, sanding, etc.), the muscles and soft tissue can become damaged. This can lead to decreased mobility and chronic pain.
- Exposure to toxic chemicals, including lead coatings, arsenic preservatives, asbestos, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
- Traumatic brain injury. Construction workers are at a very high risk for TBIs compared to other industries. These are commonly caused by falls, falling debris, or being struck by moving vehicles.
- Eye injuries. These can come from flying debris (shards of metal, cut wire, etc.), residue from mixing cement or cutting wood, or chemicals in the air.
- Burns, including chemical burns from materials used to pave roads and bridges or from chemical spills. Other burn risks include pipe explosions, gas explosions, or fires sparked by welding or soldering.
So if you are a construction worker, how do you stay safe on the job?
- Ensure that fall protection systems are in place. If your duties include working in areas with obvious fall risks, make sure that your employer has provided adequate fall protection systems and the necessary training to go along with it. Employers are required to provide these systems to protect employees who will be working or walking on surfaces with unprotected edges or sides that are six feet above a lower level. This can include guardrails or safety net systems or personal fall arrest systems. Assess the situation before starting work, and talk to your employer if adequate safety measures are not in place.
- Wear protective gear. It can be tempting not to gear up properly for a job. Maybe you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to mess with the protective eye gear. Or perhaps it’s too hot to don your hard hat. However, you should think twice before cutting corners; countless construction-related injuries could have been prevented with personal protective equipment.
Your employer should provide you with the necessary equipment free of charge. This may include a hard hat, face, and eye protection, etc. Whether you’re handling chemicals, sanding, welding, or walking under scaffolding, ensure that you have the proper personal protective equipment on at all times.
- Use care on scaffolding. Your employer should ensure that scaffolding is inspected before the start of each work day. It should have the proper guardrails and toe boards and be a safe distance from power lines. If you doubt the safety of the scaffolding, stay off of it and talk to your employer. You should also stay off of scaffolding if it is covered with ice, water, or mud.
- Clean up tools. Tools left out can cause slips and falls, or they can fall on others if left on overhead surfaces. Keep your work area nice and tidy at all times and never leave tools out where they could jeopardize others.
- Watch where you’re going. Keen situational awareness is important at all times—especially when you’re in a construction zone. Vigilance saves lives.
- Use care on ladders. Employers must keep ladders in good working condition at all times. When using ladders, make sure that they are on solid ground and that you keep three points of contact with the ladder at all times—both feet and at least one hand.
These are just a few of the many precautions that are critical for staying safe on construction jobs. Speak to your employer if they are not abiding by OSHA regulations to keep your workplace safe.
If you get injured on the job, you should contact an attorney to help you navigate Nevada laws and get the benefits that you are entitled to. Workers’ compensation laws are some of the most confusing and fast-changing laws out there, so it’s best to hire a skilled attorney from the get-go. They can help you understand the full extent of your rights, stand up to Big Insurance, and get the medical care and compensation that you deserve for doctor’s bills, pharmacy bills, lost wages, loss of capacity, and more.