CPWR's Assessment Fuels Safety Gains at Vegas Sites

Fatal injuries among workers on the $9.2 billion MGM Mirage CityCenter project and the adjacent Cosmopolitan along the Las Vegas Strip were big news last year, with OSHA filing 76 citations and $66,000 in penalties last summer against companies engaged in the work. By the end of 2008, however, the sites had gone six months without a fatality. Reports made public yesterday by The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR, Silver Spring, Md.) help to explain how safety on the projects turned around. The sites are considered to be two of the largest construction projects in the country.

Perini Building Co., the general contractor for both projects, made an agreement with the Southern Nevada Building & Construction Trades Council that brought CPWR in to assess the projects' safety, particularly examining fall hazards and safeguard against falls, and to coordinate 10-hour training of 10,000 workers. Perini begin managing that training last month, with the goal of training the last of about 11,000 workers by mid-2009. CPWR also conducted a safety climate survey of more than 3,700 workers, foremen, superintendents, and top managers that found "significant differences in perception" between the groups.

The safety climate survey identified factors that best predict workers' safety performance from different organizational levels, and it identified several areas for improvement. The recommendations included involving senior and mid-level managers in safety, giving general contracts and subcontractors training on proactive management skills, and encouraging workers to be actively involved in safety. The site assessment team included experts from NIOSH, Colorado State University, the University of Illinois, and West Virginia University. From the site visit came recommendations to provide Spanish translation for site safety orientations, distribute Perini safety rules and procedures to employees, and encourage everyone to report hazards and near-misses. Three reports in all were delivered from September 2008 to January 2009.

"These sites are large and complex, and we greatly appreciate the cooperation extended to our team throughout the assessment, from senior management to the craft workers on both sites," CPWR Executive Director Pete Stafford said yesterday. "We're glad we could make a contribution to improve the safety and health of workers on this most challenging job site. Perini proactively demonstrated its desire for strengthening its current worker safety programs through the unfettered access provided our research staff and visiting professionals."

Craig Shaw, Perini's CEO and chairman, said his company is already implementing many of CPWR's recommendations. He added that Perini believes its work sites are among the safest in the world but always looks "to identify methods by which we can adjust and strengthen worker safety."

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