Hard Rock engineer’s ‘willful’ violations led to building’s collapse, OSHA citation says

Louisiana

The citation lists problems with the design, emergency exits, training and lack of protective equipment for workers.

NEW ORLEANS (WWL-TV) — The Occupational Health and Safety Administration, or OSHA, has handed down hundreds of thousands of dollars in citations to nearly a dozen companies involved in the building of the Hard Rock Hotel.

Some of the most alarming findings by the federal agency could be a major factor in why the building collapsed.

According to citation documents obtained by our partners at the Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate, OSHA handed down two violations to Heaslip Engineering after their November inspection.

The investigation found the engineering and design of the upper floors of the Hard Rock were unsafe.

According to citation documents, floor beams on the 16th level were not strong enough for the weight they were supporting. And cantilevers, or vertical beams, on the 17th and 18th floors were spaced too far apart and bearing too much weight.

Eyewitness News investigators first exposed this in November, along with evidence that the engineers had altered plans already approved by the city.

These are big findings by federal investigators, but ones that Heaslip Engineering is denying.

In a statement, an attorney representing the firm wrote:

“Heaslip Engineering has an impeccable record and reputation for providing quality engineering services on hundreds of projects over two decades. Our firm has reviewed the citations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and adamantly disputes the findings. We believe OSHA’s conclusions are unwarranted, not supported by the facts and beyond the jurisdiction of OSHA’s statutory authority. Heaslip unequivocally denies any ‘willful’ or ‘serious’ wrongdoing, and will vigorously contest all of the citations through the procedures required by OSHA.”

Workers who barely survived the Oct. 12 collapse told Eyewitness News that they had voiced concerns about safety inside the building for weeks leading up to the collapse.

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