Hard Rock Hotel engineers cited for 'willful' violations
NEW ORLEANS — Companies involved in the construction of New Orleans' Hard Rock Hotel have come under fire for allegations of unsafe design and engineering.
According to 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 partially-collapsed building's construction.
According to citation documents obtained by 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.
Citation documents note that floor beams on the 16th level were not strong enough for the weight they were supporting. In additon to this, cantilevers, or vertical beams, on the 17th and 18th floors were spaced too far apart and bearing too much weight.
Heaslip Engineering denies the allegations and the firm's attorney issued the following statement:
"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."
In addition to the structural findings, OSHA cited 10 other companies and contractors for worker safety violations. Fines total more than $315 thousand.
Emergency exits were lacking and not lighted. Some workers had to provide their own hard hats, gloves, and reflective vests.
Other violations say workers had to use chemicals and other dangerous equipment without proper protection, or warning information about health hazards.
Some were using fall equipment on the top floor of the building with no training.
All of the companies and contractors who were cited do have the right to contest them.
WWL-TV reports that the City of New Orleans had no comment at this time, but a spokesperson said their officials are reviewing the document.
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