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Vegas Loop workers burned, report says; Boring Co. faces $100K in fines

Updated February 28, 2024 - 7:28 pm

The Boring Co. is facing more than $100,000 in fines from multiple citations tied to workplace incidents at its Vegas Loop worksite.

A June 15 inspection by the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration, spurred by a complaint, detailed eight citations issued to the company, mainly tied to workers being burned by accelerants used in the concrete mix being used during tunneling operations.

Dale Kuykendall of the Sacramento, California-based JacksonLewis firm, representing The Boring Co. (TBC), sent a Nov. 21 letter to OSHA contesting all eight violations.

“In addition to TBC’s (The Boring Company’s) belief that Nevada OSHA has failed to establish that the alleged violations occurred, TBC contests all of the citations’ classifications, required abatement, abatement deadlines, proposed penalties, and every other matter subject to contest,” Kuykendall wrote.

Kuykendall wasn’t available for further comment Tuesday.

Alleged violations

Up to 20 workers on the Encore tunnel site had been injured, according to documents obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“The chemical mixture was inadvertently sprayed onto approximately 10-15 employees soaking through their work clothing, absorbing into the skin resulting in skin irritation, skin rashes, and skin chemical burns,” the report stated.

The concrete mixture included various substances and chemicals including bentonite, fly ash, R 100 and Portland Cement, which was being pumped at a rate of 12,000 gallons per day.

The report notes that employees working in the boring operations were not provided with protective equipment and that the employer wasn’t ensuring workers wore proper eye or face protection when they were exposed to chemicals.

“The employer did not provide instruction on personal protective equipment requirements to employees, and employees were not instructed in the recognition and avoidance of hazards associated with the underground construction,” OSHA’s report noted.

No operator manual exists for the boring work, but instead Boring Co. developed the procedures being used and verbally communicated them to employees, according to the report.

Also, the inspection also found a lack of showers onsite available to employees exposed to the accelerants.

The report also cited issues with conveyor belts used to transport muck, or muddy waste, from the tunnels. The report noted that conveyor belts, operating above the workers, did not feature safeguards to protect employees from falling muck.

Muck bins onsite were also found to be overloaded and in some cases collapsing, with excess muck in the tunnel limiting access and egress to the workers, the report said.

Loop plans

OSHA’s report describes the loop as “an express public transportation system that resembles an underground highway more than a subway system.”

The Las Vegas Convention Center Loop, the only portion of the loop in operation, shuttles conventiongoers back and forth from three stations spread across the facility, with one station open at Resorts World, located across Las Vegas Boulevard. Offshoot tunnels from the convention center to Encore, where the reported violations occurred and to the Westgate, are under construction.

The LVCC Loop can handle up to 4,400 passengers per hour, with the Vegas Loop targeting 90,000 passengers per hour at full buildout with 81 medium-sized stations, OSHA’s report stated.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is paying Boring Co. $4.6 million to manage and operate the LVCC Loop from July 1, 2023, until June of this year.

‘Committed to ensuring health and safety’

Steve Hill, president and CEO of the LVCVA, said the violations were brought to their attention last summer and addressed at that time.

“The LVCVA is committed to ensuring the health and safety of those employed on any LVCVA project,” Hill said in a statement. “That expectation was emphasized with The Boring Company during last summer’s review.”

Once the Vegas Loop goes online outside of the convention center campus, Boring Co. will charge customers per ride, with a ride costing between the price of an Uber or Lyft ride and a bus ticket, Hill has previously noted. Based on multiple sample prices listed on Boring Co.’s website, a ride could cost around $1.70 per mile.

Last month Hill said the next portion of the loop project that could see boring operations begin is the University Center Loop. That portion will connect the convention center to UNLV, Virgin Hotel and Formula One’s Grand Prix Plaza.

Several permits tied to that University Center Loop are under review by Clark County.

At full buildout, Vegas Loop plans call for 93 stations, with 68 miles of tunnel, with stops planned for Allegiant Stadium, downtown Las Vegas, Chinatown, the planned Oakland Athletics Tropicana site ballpark and the majority of resorts on the Strip. No timetable has been set for when that progress on the project is expected to be made.

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

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