Construction workers considering walking off the job because of coronavirus concerns

Construction workers considering walking off the job because of coronavirus concerns

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Constructions workers at the Las Vegas Convention Center site said they are considering walking off the job this week because they said they don’t feel their health is being taken seriously.

“Things are getting scary at work,” one worker said. “A large group of us are ready to walk off the job.”

Construction workers on site of the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion say conditions were unsanitary before coronavirus was an issue. They say they haven’t gotten any better.

“As far as trying to prevent the spread, they’re telling us to wash our hands, enact social distancing but as far as actually protecting us, they haven’t done much,” said one worker.

He said the general contractor, a joint venture between Turner and Martin-Harris Construction, brought in more port-o-johns and hand washing stations. But he said there’s often no toilet paper, hand sanitizers are empty and the closest wash station is a significant walk from where he works.

“It’s very disturbing because you think about it, how many people haven’t washed their hands, haven’t even used hand sanitizer and have gone back to work,” he said, adding that those same people go back to touching surfaces and likely spreading bacteria. Because Covid-19 has been shown to live on surfaces like cardboard and metal for hours, sometimes days, they are concerned.

Another worker said it’s not feasible to practice social distancing on a construction project with more than 1,000 people.

“How do you keep the 6 foot? You can’t,” he said. “You have to intertwine with one another on the job site – you have to be close to each other whether you like it or not.”

The president of Martin Harris, Guy Martin, said the company is following, and in many cases exceeding, the guidelines spelled out by the CDC, World Health Organization, OSHA and the Southern Nevada Health District.

“There are more facilities available on that site and that site is being cleaned more regularly that is ever has been before and we are in complete compliance with the guidelines that have been set out for us to follow,” Martin said. “I can’t make sure that every single person feels 100% comfortable and safe. We’re doing the very best we can. This is not in any book. This is not in any handbook of how you’re supposed to act or react.”

Martin said any tradesmen and women who feel something isn’t up to standard need to go through the appropriate channels – reach out to their manager so it can be dealt with appropriately.

“Nobody benefits from the conditions that they’re describing,” Martin said. “I would tell you if something exists on a project, it’s only because it hasn’t been brought to someone’s attention that would take care of it. And if it was brought to our attention, it would be taken care of.”

Workers said they have brought up safety concerns around sanitation and coronavirus. They said when they speak to contractors on site, they’re brushed off.

“They suggested turning the notifications off our phones,” one worker said, referring to what a contracter told him on site. “Don’t be on your phone while you’re at work, keep your mind on task, what you’re doing so that way you don’t have to worry about not thinking about your job and hurting yourself.”

Workers said they want to see the job shut down for two weeks. If Covid-19 exists on the site, it wouldn’t survive two weeks and workers say they could come back only if they had a clean bill of health.

“Right now, we don’t know who’s healthy,” said one worker. “We don’t know who has it or not. There’s a lot of people scared. They’re worried about taking the time off to go to the doctor so they’re still coming to work – sick or not.”

As far as a unilateral shut down of a major site, Martin said he doesn’t see that happening. Construction is essential to Nevada’s readiness plan, Martin said. If temporary hospitals or other facilities were needed, construction workers would be there to build that infrastructure.


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