Regulators: Many Nevada construction work sites ‘visibly' not following social distancing rules

Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, as seen on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020.

Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, as seen on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020.

Nevada regulators are warning the state's construction industry to follow social distancing guidelines at active construction sites, stating that it is “visibly obvious” many employees are working together in close proximity.

The letter, sent Thursday by the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration (NVOSHA), comes as positive cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported at construction sites for Allegiant Stadium and Resorts World in Las Vegas.

The construction industry was notably exempted from Gov. Steve Sisolak's order to shut down all nonessential businesses in the state for a period of at least 30 days to help mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

As a condition of staying open, state regulators mandated that “essential” businesses abide by strict social distancing requirements, including keeping workers and customers at least six feet apart whenever possible. 

But the letter, sent by state OSHA's Chief Administrative Officer Jess Lankford, says that regulators have conducted “intermittent” surveys of active construction sites over the last few days and that at many 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 says that regulators will be “conducting random onsite inspections” to make sure project sites are complying with the coronavirus mitigation measures.

“Failing to comply with the Governor's Emergency Declaration 003 and associated, promulgated regulations, or guidance will be considered non-compliance with these mandates and may result in the penalizing or closure of any construction site or project that falls under the scope of the Governor's Emergency Declaration,” Lankford wrote.

Of states that have declared nonessential business shutdowns, construction has typically been allowed to continue with several added restrictions and limitations, though Washington, Pennsylvania and several cities in Massachusetts have ordered full halts to construction. New York announced Friday that it was pausing all nonessential construction.

According to the letter, NVOSHA guidelines for construction include limiting meetings to 10 people or less, implementing social distancing procedures and surveying labor conditions. In bolded text, Lankford wrote that the agency was “emphasizing the need for construction leadership to be working with and aware of the health and well-being of its labor force.”

According to the Nevada Association of General Contractors, Sisolak has created a “Task Force on Construction” to address and monitor safety conditions at construction sites.


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