Earlier this month, as Labor Day approached, I decided to skip all the BBQs and festivities. (Yes, I was invited to stuff) Instead, I had more exciting plans to stay home and do a little research about the significance of Labor Day and reexamine the true meaning of our documentary film, Cost of Construction...
According to The Department of Labor’s website, Labor Day was created to highlight the social and economic achievements of American workers and pay national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
Until now, when describing Cost of Construction, I typically led with facts surrounding tragic deaths and problematic issues wrought throughout our national safety system.
There would probably be a mention of how sixteen workers die each day on average in America.
Then, I would focus in on the CityCenter construction project in Las Vegas and the failures on the parts of the companies involved and our government’s safety agency to keep American workers safe.
But, ultimately that is not the essence of what this documentary is truly about.
Cost of Construction is about celebrating the amazing contributions by the workers who literally built this country. It’s about honoring and even boasting of America’s ambition to create new and innovative projects that push the limits of our human potential.
The CityCenter, for all its faults, was touted as a beacon of change and innovation. As I look at the finished towers that re-carve the Las Vegas skyline, I am impressed and inspired by the enormous effort behind this undertaking.
I am not alone. The still and moving images of this massive project being erected are ones that people are immediately drawn to. From the expanse of the construction project itself to the images of workers 800 feet in the air connecting massive steel beams, it is simply awe-inspiring.
What MGM and their partners set out to accomplish had in-fact never been done before. Six modern towers designed by the top architects in the world all done in a relatively small area over a short amount of time.... it is truly an amazing feat. But was it worth it?
When we endeavor to do something that hasn’t been done before we can’t proceed in the same way as we have in the past – both in expectation and in execution.
More to the point, when we do something we haven’t done before, the issues and faults within that method or system of doing things, (which may have been avoided in the past due to experience and tricks of the trade) will inevitably reveal themselves.
Unfortunately, that is what happened in Las Vegas during the construction of the CityCenter. However, the film does not intend to cast unproductive blame on the parties involved. No one believes anyone wanted American workers to be hurt or killed. Yet, there is no doubt that the system in place did not and is not functioning in its intended capacity.
Nearly every expert, official or worker we interviewed said that these deaths were preventable. For this reason alone, we should use these incidents as an important teaching moment so we can prevent, or at least reduce, future deaths and injuries.
Another Labor Day has come and gone. I encourage our country as a whole: the government, corporations, and individual workers alike to continue to strive for greatness. My sincere hope is that we can strike a balance between unbridled progress and individual safety to yield a system that will allow our country to build without compromising those who are doing the building.
This issue is truly complex and the solutions are challenging. But the goal is simple, make our journey of progress and growth a safer one.