Today the Education and Labor Committee held a hearing, “Is OSHA Failing to Adequately Enforce Construction Safety Rules?” The hearing examined the recent spate of construction and crane incidents in the U.S., particularly in New York City and Las Vegas, which have caused dozens of deaths and injuries. The Committee also examined whether the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is adequately enforcing the law or issuing safety and health regulations to ensure that construction sites are safe.
Chairman Miller gave opening remarks:
|Chairman Miller: “In Las Vegas, over the last 19 months, 12 construction workers have been killed in construction projects on the Strip. According to the Las Vegas Sun, more workers have died in the city over the past 19 months than died during the entire 1990s construction boom. An investigative series by the Las Vegas Sun detailed the circumstances behind the deaths on the Strip, including the inadequate response from the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration… This Committee has repeatedly raised serious concerns about OSHA's inability or unwillingness to issue needed health and safety standards for a number of different industries, and we have the same concern now about the construction industry.”
George Cole, brother-in-law of the victim of a construction accident in Las Vegas, gave testimony:
|Chairman Miller: “My name is George Cole, I'm an Ironworker, retired. For 42 years I've been in the business. I never thought I'd be testifying that OSHA has failed to enforce safety standards for steel erection. I deeply regret that I am here today on behalf of my deceased brother-in-law, “Rusty” Billingsley who plunged 59 feet to his death on the City Center Project in Las Vegas… To further add to our overwhelming grief, after deciding on a $13,500 fine because the accident could have been prevented, Nevada OSHA then met quietly with the company and withdrew all citations and fines, stating that Rusty's employers bore no responsibility for his death. I am here today on behalf of my family and Ironworkers throughout the country. Rusty's death was not his fault. There are two problems here, unsafe conditions at the workplace, and OSHA's failure to enforce its own standards as they were written.”