House Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Construction Deaths

In light of the recent construction-related deaths on the Las Vegas Strip and in New York City, the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee plans to hold a hearing to review construction safety standards and OSHA's effectiveness in overseeing them.

A spokesperson from the office of Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., confirmed with Occupational Hazards that the lawmaker is monitoring the latest series of fatalities among construction workers in Las Vegas and New York City.

It is not yet known when this hearing will be held, the spokesperson added.

The Las Vegas Sun reported that 10 workers died while working on construction projects along the Las Vegas Strip in the last 17 months. A $32 billion building boom in the city prompted project managers to take shortcuts at the expense of safety and pressure workers to work faster, the paper said.

It has been a deadly year for the construction workers in New York City, as well. Construction sites in the city already have recorded 13 fatalities 2008, compared with 12 fatalities during all of 2007.

These deaths prompted Woolsey to question whether change is needed in OSHA's construction safety regulations or if measures should be implemented to ensure that construction companies follow these types of regulations, Woolsey's spokesperson said.

In April 2007, Woolsey introduced the Protect America's Workers Act, which would require OSHA to cover more workers, increase penalties, strengthen protections and enhance public accountability, as well as clarify an employer's duty to provide safety equipment. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., has introduced identical legislation.

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