Austin workers tired…and thirsty

A stiff timeline and pending Grand Prix has the Circuit of the Americas working diligently to complete a purpose-built circuit for the Formula One event this November. With hundreds of workers plying their crafts on the multi-million dollar facility, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been called in to take a look at worker complaints.

Namely the complaints center on an electrical contractor which some employees have claimed they are not providing adequate braks per the union contracts and other complaints center on the notion of workers being told to bring their own water from home which is against federal regulations.

The people at COTA assured the Statesman that they and their general contractors are following the guidelines and that everything is in order. Going without water in Texas summer heat is dangerous and the complaints are being taken very seriously. Like many construction projects, there are those who violate worker contracts and then there are those workers who complain about not working and when they get a job, they complain about working. It’s never easy. The obligatory harsh words always seem to crop up as well such as Gregorio Casar , the business liaison for the Austin-based Workers Defense Project, when he said:

“The immediate goal is for this situation to be rectified,” Casar said. “It makes no sense as to why this high-end construction project … is putting people’s lives at risk.”

I’m sure no one at COTA thought they’d be crafty and save a few dollars and have the satisfaction of knowing they are putting their workers lives at risk by depriving them of water. It’s well-known that ‘high-end’ construction projects never have cases of missing water. The COTA folks are good people trying very hard to get a job done and if a general contractor asked people to bring water, there seems to be some missing context to the story.  There always is.

Nevertheless, workers are doing what they’ve been tasked to do and providing water seems to be the least a contractor could do given the heat and situation. With OSHA involved, I’m sure this will get sorted quickly. Nothing like a few well-hydrated OSHA workers poking around to get things back on track.

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