Las Vegas Sun

May 6, 2016

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Construction Deaths

Harold "Rusty" Billingsley's hard hat and work boots are reminders of the job that led to the ironworker's death Oct. 5 while working on CityCenter.

Photo by Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Harold "Rusty" Billingsley's hard hat and work boots are reminders of the job that led to the ironworker's death Oct. 5 while working on CityCenter.

Construction workers had been dying at a rate of one every six weeks in the $32 billion building boom on the Las Vegas Strip. But deaths stopped last year after the Las Vegas Sun exposed serious safety flaws on the sites and detailed how lax oversight by safety regulators failed to prevent accidents.

The stories forced state and federal investigations and became the subject of hearings in the U.S. House and Senate. Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid and others sent a letter to President Bush demanding safety reforms in the Labor Department.

As the Sun pursued the story, the newspaper reported on cozy relationships existing between safety regulators and builders. Angered by the revelations and continuing death toll, workers walked off the job at MGM Mirage's CityCenter, shutting down the largest private commercial development in U.S. history until the contractors agreed to safety improvements.

Twelve workers had died in 18 months. But after the improvements, the deaths stopped. No workers have died since June 2008.

This page features the Sun's series, which includes stories, a video, an interactive and documents from OSHA concerning the deaths, plus follow-up stories.

Archive highlights

Pace is the new peril

Sun, Mar 30, 2008

In the shadows of the cranes, steel and concrete upon which Las Vegas has pinned its addiction to growth, a body count has emerged. Nine construction workers have died in ...

OSHA goes easy

Mon, Mar 31, 2008

Hundreds of construction workers signed a 10-foot long memorial poster for the family of Harold Billingsley after the 46-year-old ironworker plunged to his death at CityCenter last year. Four months ...

'Not in this city'

Tue, Apr 1, 2008

The disturbing rash of worker deaths at casinos, condos and hotels being built along the Strip raises safety issues that must be addressed, safety engineers and others say. But making ...


Sun, Apr 13, 2008

The 70-odd ironworkers working at the Fontainebleau construction site were fed up with dangerous conditions. In July, they stopped working in the unsafe areas and persuaded their union, Ironworkers Local ...

All stories

Nevada’s on-the-job fatalities fell in ’08

Thu, Aug 27, 2009

Nevada had the second sharpest decline in workplace fatalities in the nation last year, a drop that experts attributed to the slowdown in construction and a renewed emphasis on safety ...

Rare study by feds may prompt OSHA changes

Fri, Jul 31, 2009

The U.S. Labor Department has formed a task force to look into problems at Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The task force will issue a report detailing any problems ...

Official: Inspection reports falsified

Sat, Jul 25, 2009

This week, an administrative hearing officer said the county-approved private inspectors hired by MGM Mirage to inspect the Harmon didn’t simply err accidentally, but rather must not have been conducting ...

Harmon inspector lacked experience

Wed, Jul 1, 2009

An inspector responsible for monitoring construction at the troubled Harmon hotel in CityCenter last year said he had never read engineering plans without assistance before taking that job, despite earning ...

CityCenter inspectors told: Easy on the paper

Thu, Jun 11, 2009

County officials have instructed building inspectors at CityCenter to be more selective in using paperwork to document potential flaws in the massive MGM Mirage project.

Bill would require safety training for construction workers

Sat, May 16, 2009

In response to a rash of deaths on construction projects in Las Vegas, the Assembly is pushing through a bill to require safety training for workers.

Killed crane oiler’s family sues MGM Mirage, others

Wed, May 6, 2009

Dustin Tarter’s death on May 31, which at the time was the sixth in 18 months at the mammoth Strip project, sparked a one-day walkout by his fellow workers over ...

With little aid from expected allies, OSHA overhaul died

Sun, May 3, 2009

The Nevada Legislature’s response to safety problems won’t approach the sweeping transformation seen in other localities following construction deaths and the documentation of weak safety oversight.

Suit in Orleans worker deaths allowed to proceed

Fri, May 1, 2009

A judge Friday issued an order that could allow family members of workers who died two years ago at the Orleans to continue with a lawsuit against the hotel-casino's owner, ...

Federal OSHA signals shift to aggressive enforcement

Fri, May 1, 2009

As Congress entertains legislation to increase penalties on employers violating workplace safety rules, the Obama administration’s Labor Department is moving ahead with plans to target and prosecute big companies that ...

Compliance comes first

Wed, Apr 29, 2009

Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration vowed Tuesday to strengthen workplace safety laws and step up their enforcement, moving away from the Bush administration’s belief in voluntary compliance.

Families make push for reform personal

Tue, Apr 28, 2009

Surely someone must have information for family members of workplace accident victims about how investigations into their loved ones’ deaths would progress and how she could become involved, Tammy Miser ...

Bill introduced to stiffen worker protection laws

Thu, Apr 23, 2009

House Democrats today introduced a sweeping bill to beef up worker protections laws under the Occupational Safety and Health Act that lawmakers believe have been too lax.

Labor secretary says OSHA to be strengthened

Thu, Apr 23, 2009

Echoing remarks she made earlier this week, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said Thursday that her department would strengthen the Occupational Safety and Health Administration by adding hundreds of investigators and ...

Labor secretary vows more focus on OSHA as stimulus projects begin

Wed, Apr 22, 2009

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said Tuesday that the top priorities of her department are hiring investigators and enforcing regulations on worker safety and fair pay.


The case of Willie Pelayo

General laborer foreman Willie Pelayo rode a malfunctioning buggy into an elevator shaft and was killed at Trump Dec. 5, 2006. OSHA initiated a two-month long investigation and issued a report that involved extensive documentation, including photographs and a complete evaluation of the buggy.

Here are some of the documents involved in the case:


Federal Hearing Focuses on Vegas
Federal Hearing Focuses on Vegas
The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee took aim at OSHA on Tuesday, citing the ...
Hopes of Change
Hopes of Change
Las Vegas retired ironworker George Cole discussed on Monday what he planned to say at ...
CityCenter Workers Strike
CityCenter Workers Strike
Construction workers shut down MGM Mirage's CityCenter at midnight Monday, walking off the job to ...
Cost of Expansion
Cost of Expansion
In the shadows of the cranes, steel, and concrete upon which Las Vegas has pinned ...


Construction Deaths
In the shadows of the cranes, steel, and concrete upon which Las Vegas has pinned ...

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