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OSHA warns Nevada construction firms on coronavirus safety protocols

Updated March 30, 2020 - 6:27 pm

Construction projects across the Las Vegas Valley have been reminded of the need to follow safety guidelines to allow work to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A letter sent by the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Friday noted that work crews at construction sites across the state were not practicing social distancing.

In response, Jess Lankford, chief administrative officer for NVOSHA, reiterated the standards to be followed by the construction, mining and manufacturing industries, which have been deemed essential business.

“In recent days the administration of NVOSHA has conducted intermittent surveys of construction sites in Nevada,” Lankford said in the letter to construction companies and contractors. “At many of these work sites it is visibly obvious that employees are still being directed/allowed to work in close proximity (less than 6 feet of separation) to other staff.”

The letter didn’t name any projects they observed violating the social distancing guidelines.

OSHA recommends:

— Restricting meetings and gatherings to groups of fewer than 10.

— Establishing social distancing on sites to ensure a minimum of 6 feet of space is maintained between workers.

— Providing sanitation and cleaning supplies to clean common surfaces in a work areas with multiple users.

— Conducting daily health surveys to document changes in staff conditions.

— Ensuring that any first responders on a project with necessary personal protective equipment.

— Providing access to sanitary, clean drinking water.

Meanwhile, signs placed in multiple places on the perimeter fence surrounding one of the most notable projects in the state, the $2 billion Allegiant Stadium, list COVID-19 reminders to stay safe and healthy. The signs were posted after a worker on the project tested positive last week. The area that the worker was assigned to was closed and sanitized. Work continues in other areas.

The signs remind trade workers to:

— Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

— If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer.

— Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow.

— Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

— Maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance between people whenever possible.

That’s just one of the steps the project’s contractor, the Mortenson-McCarthy joint venture has taken since the positive test.

The builder also put several preventative procedures in place to fight coronavirus contamination, including a verbal health screening of each employee upon beginning work, increased cleaning and sanitation throughout the site, and utilizing teleconferencing when possible.

“Our highest priority is the health and safety of our own team members, project partners and the community,” Mortenson-McCarthy said in a statement last week. “We will implement further changes and adjustments as needed to help protect the health and safety of everyone on the project.”

A worker at the $4.3 billion Resorts World project on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip also tested positive for the coronavirus. That worker and the crew that individual was on were instructed to self-isolate at home for 14 days.

The area where the worker was last assigned was shut down and was slated to be sanitized and closed until Wednesday.

No reports of positive COVID-19 tests have been made at other notable work sites: the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion project and Circa Hotel downtown. Circa, a McCarthy Building Cos. lead project, was the only other project as of Monday afternoon that had coronavirus related postings near entrances of the site.

The state is hopeful the steps being taken will help eliminate such instances and allow these high-profile projects and other job-yielding construction sites to continue work through the 30-day statewide shutdown.

“As identified by the Governor of Nevada, the implementation of the following protocols is extremely important to reduce and slow the spread of COVID-19,” Lankford said in the March 18 letter laying out the safety guidelines. “The governor has tasked every business and business sector with the responsibility to do whatever it can to address the historic public health issue.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter

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