Las Vegas Sun

November 25, 2015

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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

A day to honor 2 for bravery on the job

Mon, Jan 26, 2009

On Feb. 2, David Snow plans to drag his battered body to Travis Koehler’s graveside. Snow’s and Koehler’s names will be always intertwined. The two fell unconscious together two years ...

Law gives new FedOSHA boss few sticks

Thu, Jan 22, 2009

If confirmed, labor secretary nominee Hilda Solis will oversee an Occupational Safety and Health Administration that many workplace safety advocates expect will become tougher on employers who put workers at ...

Construction worker safety meeting rescheduled

Mon, Jan 12, 2009

Snowed out once before, a public meeting on the safety of construction workers has been rescheduled.

On appeal, OSHA loses most of Monte Carlo fire case

Tue, Dec 30, 2008

The construction company cited by the state for worker safety violations in connection with the January fire atop the Monte Carlo was largely cleared of responsibility in an appeal decision ...

Employers finding way around OSHA’s tougher stance

Mon, Dec 29, 2008

No one saw Michael Taylor fall to his death at the Cosmopolitan construction site nearly a year ago.

This is vindication?

Sun, Dec 28, 2008

A review by the U.S. Labor Department said that although the state did not violate any of its policies, the handling of the case “raises serious concerns.”

Evidence of change: Six months, no fatalities

Sun, Dec 28, 2008

Twelve workers died in accidents at Strip construction sites during the first 18 months of Las Vegas’s current building boom. In the past six months, not one worker has died.

Setting record straight on Elliott case

Fri, Dec 26, 2008

Gov. Jim Gibbons’ office says it erred when it issued a news release last week stating that an investigation by the attorney general had vindicated a top political appointee in ...

Bridge contractor shows it’s willing to fight

Tue, Dec 23, 2008

Six years ago, while working on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, carpenter Kevin Noah fell 50 feet to his death.

State clears Elliott in Orleans probe

Thu, Dec 18, 2008

The involvement of a top Gibbons administration appointee in the investigation of a double fatality at the Orleans last year was not illegal, the Nevada attorney general’s office has ruled.

Safety meeting canceled due to snow

Wed, Dec 17, 2008

The Construction Safety Roundtable scheduled for 5 p.m. today has been canceled due to snow.

Contractors to propose training initiatives

Wed, Dec 17, 2008

Not wanting to show up empty-handed to a public meeting about construction safety tonight, contractors on Tuesday unveiled a wish list of proposals they say will promote safer conditions on ...

Suit names Boyd in Orleans death

Tue, Dec 16, 2008

The parents of one of two maintenance workers who died last year after entering a toxic manhole at the Orleans filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Friday seeking damages against Orleans owner ...

Follow-up to Round Table on safety finally scheduled

Sun, Dec 14, 2008

At the first Construction Worker Safety Round Table meeting held at the Clark County Government Center, building trades honcho Steve Ross painted a dire picture of the worker safety systems ...

After 6 die, OSHA finds violations

Sun, Dec 14, 2008

State and federal safety inspectors found 42 serious violations last summer during a sweeping review of the CityCenter construction site that followed a string of fatalities there, a review of ...


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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