More worker safety training sought
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) ” Mothers of two men killed in workplace accidents urged Nevada legislators on Wednesday to mandate improved on-the-job safety training and to make sure that there’s proper oversight by government agencies.
Tracy Carrillo of Fernley, in emotional testimony before the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, said more training is needed. Debra Koehler-Fergen of Las Vegas added that federal authorities should have more authority over Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Carrillo, whose son Brian Sparkman, an iron worker, died in a Reno hospital after falling off a 42-foot-high building in 2007, said she wasn’t “placing blame or pointing fingers” but added, “I just don’t feel there’s appropriate training on safety.”
“The rules are there for a reason. They’re there to save your life,” she added.
Koehler-Fergen’s son, Travis Koehler, and another maintenance worker died in 2007 after being overcome by toxic fumes while working at the Orleans hotel-casino in Las Vegas. Koehler-Fergen, who filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Orleans owner Boyd Gaming, said a “cover-up” in the Orleans case shows why there should be more federal oversight.
The need for more training also was endorsed by Danny Thompson, head of the state AFL-CIO. Thompson wants lawmakers to approve AB148, to require 10 hours of safety training for employees and 30 hours of safety training for supervisors. Companies would have to drop workers that don’t get the training in a timely manner.
The bill was written following the deaths of 12 workers at Las Vegas Strip construction sites over an 18-month period.
Thompson has said worker safety training is needed statewide, not just in the Las Vegas area. He mentioned an explosion several years ago at a recycling plant in northern Nevada that killed one worker and severely burned four others. The workers were draining aerosol cans by puncturing them with metal spikes.
Nevada OSHA chief Tom Czehowski also has endorsed the bill, along with Lesley Pittman, representing Perini Building Co., the general contractor for the $9.2 billion CityCenter on the Strip.
Safety concerns came to a head last year after the death of a sixth worker at the CityCenter project. That led to a one-day strike by workers to protest conditions, and federal state and local officials increased their oversight.