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Kyle Hansen

Five hurt in structure collapse at McCarran

24 June 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Five workers suffered non-life-threatening injuries when a rebar structure collapsed at McCarran International Airport's Terminal 3 project this morning.

The workers were inside a rebar cage that was being constructed on the ground in front of the new terminal at about 7 a.m. when it collapsed, said Clark County Director of Aviation Randall Walker.

The five injured workers were employed by Pacific Coast Steel, a subcontractor for Perini Construction, which is the lead contractor for the main terminal building.

Clark County Fire Department spokesman Scott Allison said all of the workers were taken to area hospitals.

By mid-morning, two of the workers had been released from the hospital, while the other three were in stable condition, Walker said.

"Of course, all our thoughts and prayers go out to the workers and their family members at this time," Walker said.

The accident occurred in an area of the project without paved roads. Construction at the site continued while investigators tried to determine the cause of the accident.

"The Department of Aviation, its construction representatives, Nevada OSHA and other authorities are investigating the details of this accident as we speak," Walker said at a 10:30 a.m. news conference.

"As always, safety is our primary concern at the Department of Aviation," he said. "We do not take accidents lightly and will do everything in our power to understand the cause of this event and what steps can be taken in the future to avoid similar circumstances."

Workers were inside the rebar cage attaching supports to the outside of the cage when it collapsed, trapping them inside, Walker said.

Other workers at the site used a crane to lift the structure and then cut holes in the rebar to free the trapped workers, Walker said.

The circular rebar cage was 6 feet in diameter and approximately 70 feet long. It was to be part of the subterranean support for a roadway bridge in front of the terminal, he said.

These types of cages are constructed horizontally on the ground. After approval from county inspectors, the rebar is lifted with a crane and put vertically into the ground before concrete is poured and the bridge is built above.

A completed rebar structure weighs about 30,000 pounds, Walker said, but the one that collapsed was still under construction.

The cage was the seventh built by Pacific Coast Steel for this project. The company has built more than 1,000 of the structures for the entire Terminal 3 project, most of them while working as a subcontractor for McCarthy, Walker said.

McCarthy is one of six general contractors, each of which handles different elements of the entire project. Perini is another contractor working on the terminal.

The Terminal 3 project costs $2.4 billion and is expected to open in 2012. There are six major projects that make up the McCarran International Airport expansion.

A worker died in February after a construction accident at the airport terminal site.

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