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Stage Accident Prompts Renewed Examination Of Worker Safety

LAS VEGAS, NV (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — A production-related accident in Nevada have bolstered a push by Nevada's Occupational Safety & Hazards Administration (OSHA) to tighten up safety regulations.

According to the Las Vegas Journal-Review, 20-year-old Vicente Rodriguez fell to his death from a rigging plank while tearing down lighting over the stage after a Tom Jones show. Rodrqiuez was wearing his safety harness improperly at the time of his death but the catwalk lacked a guardrail which might have prevented the fall.

After the accident, Nevada's OSHA hit MGM with a $38,700 fine and the staging company, Rhino Las Vegas with a $25,000 fine. However, both fines were reduced; MGM's penalty was cut to $19,800, while Rhino's fine was reduced to $4,000. Nevada's OSHA bases fines on a penalty scale that has only been increased once in the 40 years its been on the books, the Journal-Review noted.

Steve Coffield, head of Nevada OSHA told the Journal Review that the fines had been reduce, in part, because of the small size of Rhino Las Vegas and partly because of the duplication in charges. Coffield also said that the current regulatory schema is hard to enforce in relation to the entertainment industry as they were originally designed to address safety issues on construction sites and do not always address new technologies that present additional workplace hazards. The penalties imposed for safety violations also rarely provide little incentive for companies to provide safer workplaces.

"The current penalty structure is too low to compel companies to take workplace safety as seriously as they should," federal OSHA spokesman, Michael Wald, told the Review-Journal. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers