Death of Vicente Rodriguez at MGM Vegas in 2009

gafftaper

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This story was first referred to in the thread about the death of electrician Fenton "Andy" Hollingsworth in West Palm Beach Florida. However it never had it's own proper place for discussion. I have copied the pertinent posts from that thread below. You will find new content on the story beginning in post #4.


Well this story ought to be enough to make everyone mad. There was a similar death in Vegas back in May of 2009 at the MGM. A stagehand fell off a platform with no hand rails. As you read above in this thread, in Florida an Electrician fell off a platform with no hand rails too.
-In Vegas the Venue paid a fine of $19,800.
-In Florida the venue paid a fine of $3675.
Are lives less valuable in Florida?

$19,800.... REALLY? The MGM was originally fined $38,700 but it was reduced to $19,800. $19,800... They give away that much on free cocktails every few hours. They have rooms that cost more than that per night! They'll loose a lot more than that on one hand of black jack in the high roller room. $19,800... I hope MGM can survive the fine.

The fine for the outside staging company was lowered because of the size of the company? A GUY DIED! It doesn't matter how big or small your business is. If you get an employee killed you need to seriously rethink your procedures. $4,000... You College students could pick up a nice late 90's used Honda Civic for that, makes a great college car.

A friend in Vegas tells me that the guy who fell violated a direct order to not go up on that catwalk. That isn't mentioned anywhere in the story. Maybe that's part of the reason the fines were reduced, but it still doesn't make any sense. There was mention of him wearing a harness incorrectly. I don't think the guy in Florida was wearing a harness at all. While this may seem inconsistent with the rest of my rant, remember you need to be properly trained and use your harness. While the employer needs to provide a safe working environment, we are all responsible for making choices that are safe on the job.

Finally what's up with this statement in the article:
...the entertainment industry, which has grown more sophisticated with technologies that present new workplace hazards.
Technologies present new hazards? Gravity pretty much always works the same way. If anything our industry has gotten safer as fall protection has spread throughout the industry. 20 years ago there were a lot more falls due to the rare use of harnesses. The addition of moving heads, LED's, and more video projection haven't made falling from catwalks without handrails any more dangerous.
 
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jwl868

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Re: Electrician falls in West Palm Beach Florida

And how about the preceding portion of that quote:

Coffield [Steve Coffield, head of Nevada OSHA] said it is legally difficult to apply Nevada's safety regulations -- which are geared more to construction sites -- to the entertainment industry..


Nevada Law: CHAPTER 618 - OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH

"NRS 618.015 Purpose of chapter.
1. It is the purpose of this chapter to provide safe and healthful working conditions for every employee by:
(a) Establishing regulations;
(b) Effectively enforcing such regulations;
(c) Educating and training employees; and
(d) Establishing reporting procedures for job-related accidents and illnesses.
2. The Legislature finds that such safety and health in employment is a matter greatly affecting the public interest of this State."


OSHA at the federal level (and I assume the state level) is notoriously underfunded; I could understand a regulator claiming that there is a lack of funding for enforcement. But to say it is “legally difficult” to apply a law with such broad coverage [“..every employee..”]? I’m hoping that it’s just lousy reporting.



Joe
 

gafftaper

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Re: Electrician falls in West Palm Beach Florida

We now have a "conclusion" but we don't exactly have closure in the 2009 death of Vincente Rodriguez at MGM in 2009. How sad, the whole thing stinks.

Read on.
 

gafftaper

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Death of Stagehand at MGM Vegas in 2009

There has been a federal review of the situation. The results of that review were printed in this Las Vegas Journal-Review story.

Short version
The Federal investigation found that:
-Both MGM and Rhino didn't fully cooperate with the state investigators and some people gave false information to the state investigator.
-The state inspector, when faced with false statements, didn't press to find the truth.
-The state inspector had not been properly trained in how to do this sort of investigation in the first place.

This whole story just makes me sick. Mr. Rodgriguez was a young guy from UNLV. I'm sure he was excited about his new career and working a cool gig for Rhino at the MGM. In a situation like that starting out you need to impress people, so there is a lot of pressure on you to do the job well. It would be really tough to be in that situation and tell the boss, "no I can't do that because I'm not properly trained" or "I won't go there because there isn't a proper life line". However, as this story clearly points out, management isn't always looking out for your safety first. What was his life worth? $19,800. He was faced with a terrible choice: risk his life and impress his boss maybe leading to great things for his career or protect his life and put his future working for Rhino and MGM at risk. Unfortunately I have to admit that I would probably have taken the risk at his age, I certainly did other risky things in those days. Fortunately I survived to have a family and a future. He didn't. It's just sad.
 
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mstaylor

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Re: Death of Stagehand at MGM Vegas in 2009

All I know is if you call an ambulance or fire rescue for an OSHA accident you will get the police also. I have been the supervisor when this has happened at least three times. I can't imagine the police not responding to a fatality.
 

gafftaper

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Re: Death of Stagehand at MGM Vegas in 2009

Here's the latest on the death of Vicente Rodriguez from the Las Vegas Review Journal. There's an excellent 7 minute video interviewing his mom as well as showing pictures of the accident scene. The short version... Nevada OSHA says to the Feds, Thanks for the advice but the case was investigated, is closed, and can't be reopened. Nevada law says the family is not allowed to Sue either MGM or Rhino. So they are going to have to find some sort of Federal route to sue for compensation.

This story continues to get sadder and more disgusting.
 

Tammy

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This story was first referred to in the thread about the death of electrician Fenton "Andy" Hollingsworth in West Palm Beach Florida. However it never had it's own proper place for discussion. I have copied the pertinent posts from that thread below. You will find new content on the story beginning in post #4.

A friend in Vegas tells me that the guy who fell violated a direct order to not go up on that catwalk. That isn't mentioned anywhere in the story. Maybe that's part of the reason the fines were reduced, but it still doesn't make any sense. There was mention of him wearing a harness incorrectly.
Your friend was not correct. Article - In a routine inspection of the entire hotel in early 2009 -- three months before the fatal accident -- an inspector at the Hollywood Theater spotted the suspended planking. According to OSHA chief Steve Coffield, when the inspector asked its purpose, a hotel representative told her the boards went up for the theater's construction in 1994 and never came down, but were not in use. You will also find in the OSHA inspection and many articles that Vicente was called in on his day off and sent up on the planks. Rodriguez climbed onto the rail (to tie off) because a man of average height could not reach the lifeline while standing on the catwalk floor, according to OSHA records. He then slipped.

I would not have even bothered signing up and responding except for Vicente's family. They have been through enough heartache and they last thing they need is someone stating it was their sons fault. It is very hurtful to families that outlets are able to insinuate or flat out state it is the workers fault with no proof and it happens all to often and most often are never retracted.
 

gafftaper

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Thank you @Tammy for that information. We certainly mean no disrespect to Mr. Rodrigez's memory or the family here. I hope when you read my posts above you will hear the sympathetic tone in them. There are far too many good people who have lost their lives in theater leaving even more loved ones behind.

Please note that my post is three years old and I don't believe we had access to the full OSHA report at that time. My source for that statement is someone who knows that venue and situation quite well, but was apparently wrong in saying that Mr Rodriguez was ordered to not go up there. I apologize.

One of our main goals on this website is to teach safety. We have very recently begun talking with the people of the Event Safety Alliance with discussions of how we can work with them to support their mission. I encourage you to take a look at their mission, perhaps part of Vincente's legacy can be for friends and family to promote safety through this new organization.
 

Tammy

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Thank you @Tammy for that information. We certainly mean no disrespect to Mr. Rodrigez's memory or the family here. I hope when you read my posts above you will hear the sympathetic tone in them. There are far too many good people who have lost their lives in theater leaving even more loved ones behind.

Please note that my post is three years old and I don't believe we had access to the full OSHA report at that time. My source for that statement is someone who knows that venue and situation quite well, but was apparently wrong in saying that Mr Rodriguez was ordered to not go up there. I apologize.

One of our main goals on this website is to teach safety. We have very recently begun talking with the people of the Event Safety Alliance with discussions of how we can work with them to support their mission. I encourage you to take a look at their mission, perhaps part of Vincente's legacy can be for friends and family to promote safety through this new organization.
I could feel the sense of safety and concern. That is why I was drawn to your post. Marychris has spent much of her time trying to make a difference knowing it will do little to change her own circumstances. She is very outspoken with a heart of gold. Please do not take my option as her whip. I just know her and her pride as a performer and mother. We as a group of families have learned our place. We need to ensure and help others understand the real cost of safety. In part, making others aware of real life consequences and reminding them that words can hurt. Families have shared their personal experiences with a host of H&S professionals with a goal of bringing home our loved ones at the end of the day.
 

TimMc

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The story of Mr. Rodrigez's death at work chapped my hide when I first read of it and it still does. Nevada OSHA determined that the catwalk and railings were abandoned-in-place construction aides and because they were not *intended* to be used by theatrical workers, they did not have to meet any standards after the contractor left. IOW NevOSHA blamed the worker for his own death.

That is why I urge every stage hand, designer, rigger, or other theatrical workers to write their electeds when revisions of workplace safety laws and regulations come up. In Nevada the worker comp laws were written largely by the mineral extraction (mining) industry, to the benefit of industry. They don't give a flying f*** about your safety unless the penalties cost far, far more than compliance or it shuts down production (mining or shows, doesn't matter).

Remember that for all the lip service given to safety, *capitalism* by its nature does not favor safety unless it's free of cost.

"Nobody should die for someone else's good time." - Tim Mc