Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2019

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Fed OSHA to open Las Vegas office for worker safety oversight

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Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials will open a Las Vegas office to provide oversight of worker safety regulators here, David Michaels, assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, announced today.

In a statement, Michaels said the office will make direct oversight of state regulators easier and more effective, and allow federal officials to "provide technical assistance to the state as needed to ultimately ensure workers are better protected."

“Workers deserve to be kept safe on the job. When we found serious deficiencies in the way the state of Nevada was operating its safety and health program, it was necessary to take action," he said.

The move follows federal regulators' release in October of a scathing indictment of Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, painting the state agency charged with keeping workers safe on the job as incompetent and ineffective in the wake of a deadly building boom.

The probe examined Nevada OSHA’s oversight of 25 workplace fatalities, some of which occurred during the Las Vegas Strip construction boom and found an agency with staff ill-equipped to investigate accidents and administrators unwilling to impose hefty penalties on companies.

The report was the most significant review of a state program conducted by the in nearly two decades.

Members of Nevada's Washington delegation praised the announcement.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said: “An office in Las Vegas has been long awaited—a wait that was too long for the twelve construction workers who lost their lives as a result of poor safety regulations. OSHA’s presence in Nevada will allow its members to work more closely with Nevada’s leading workforces, monitoring progress and ensuring only the highest safety and health standards are in practice. With OSHA’s help, our state’s workplaces will adopt safer work practices, resulting in fewer accidents and less spending for accident and injury cases, making funds available to get Nevadans back on the job.”

Rep. Dina Titus said: “Unfortunately under current law, federal OSHA is left with only two options, both at the extreme end of the spectrum, when it finds state plans that are ineffective. This legislation provides OSHA with an important middle ground so it is not left with the choice of doing nothing or taking the drastic step of terminating a state plan.”

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