Tragically, 112 construction-related deaths are attributed to Hoover Dam, but even more tragically, there were another 42 fatalities that are not counted as construction deaths.
Compounding the above tragedies, 42 more construction workers died, but pneumonia was listed as the cause of death, undoubtedly so the construction companies would not have to pay workers compensation to their families. They worked in the diversion tunnels in the midst of gasoline powered construction vehicles in temperatures up to 140 degrees F. (60 C.). The cause of death was most likely carbon monoxide poisoning. There were no deaths from pneumonia in the area among non construction workers.
Another tragedy is that the first fatality was a surveyor scouting for a site for the dam in 1922, J. G Tierney. The last fatality during construction was his son, Patrick Tierney, 13 years to the day after his father died.
In my job I do a lot of work to promote workplace safety and compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) standards. Hoover Dam shows how far we have come in making improvements in this important mission.
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