Tuesday, May 15, 2018 | 2 a.m.
It’s 6 o’clock in the morning at the future home of the Raiders in Las Vegas and workers are about to begin their shift on the $1.8 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium.
But before the group of about 300 workers embark on a day’s work, they gather for a message: Safety first.
On this day, with the sun still rising on the Russell Road and Interstate 15 site, the crew is reminded to clean up their work space more efficiently. Each morning, a different construction manager delivers a similar reminder, usually focusing on an observation made the previous day.
“Over 7 million construction workers are going to work today in the U.S. and some of them won’t make it home,” said Travis Nestor, a safety manager on the stadium project. “We’re proof it doesn’t have to be that way — we’ve worked 200,000 hours on this job without a serious injury. We don’t need a special safety week; every week is safety week here.”
McCarthy Builders Co. and Mortenson, the developers of the stadium, participated in Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Safety Stand-Down week. The weeklong program featured a different aspect of safety, focusing on fall prevention, rigging and falling-object protection.
Safety week was also used to boost morale among the workers with activities and giveaways, like custom “Just Build It, Baby” fluorescent green long-sleeve shirts, and Raiders safety week hats. A large banner was also hung on a fence near the morning meet-up, where all construction workers signed their names alongside Raiders owner Mark Davis.
After workers receive their daily safety reminder, they go through a stretching routine to ensure no preventable injuries occur while carrying out their tasks.
“Injuries are preventable if you just take time to think,” said Paul Dudzinski, project director. “It’s also a mental thing. Just to get everybody shifting gears and get their mind off what they did last night or problems at home, just to give us five minutes a day to get their mind going to think about safety and what they’re doing for the day.”
There are five safety managers onsite at all times, with group breakaway safety sessions being held throughout the day. A focus is made on ensuring workers stay hydrated and get enough shade during the day, especially as the scorching summer heat ramps up.
As the work progresses and different trade workers are needed, Dudzinski said the number of daily workers on site will swell to about 1,400 by the winter. For the full scope of the project, he estimates 8,000-9,000 workers will go through the onsite safety orientation, to carry out some level of work on the stadium.
It’s tough to miss the four massive yellow cranes on the site. When fully extended, each can reach heights of about 300 feet and specific measures are in place to keep everyone safe while they are in use.
“Each one is individually numbered and those guys have dedicated radio channels so that they can communicate with each other,” Dudzinski said. “We also have a dedicated safety person watching the cranes to make sure that they don’t bump into each other. They have their own working space, working radius and an activity planned for the day. One of our big focuses is to make sure in such a close-knit area with so much going on that we’re watching out for where the hooks are and what each crane is doing.”
Air horns are also sounded of each time a crane has an object dangling over the head of workers, alerting them to be mindful of the space above them, as there could be a potential hazard.
An operation is only as successful as those who carry out the work each day. Site supervisors credit each worker for the successful and safe operation this far.
“Your (construction workers) commitment to making safe choices makes us stronger in safety through the power of those choices,” Nestor said in his morning address to the crew. “You guys have a lot of knowledge when it comes to safety.”