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Substandard Work Alleged in Collapse

Thursday, May 10, 2012

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Federal officials are accusing an Ohio cement contractor of design and construction violations in the partial collapse of a casino parking garage last year in Cleveland.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined Cleveland Cement Contractors Inc. a total of $38,000 and cited the company for six serious safety violations, including not following design and construction standards, in the accident Dec. 16 at the Horseshoe Casino parking center.

 The collapse in Cleveland occurred six weeks before a similar collapse at a casino owned by the same developer in Cincinnati.

 The Plain Dealer

The collapse in Cleveland occurred six weeks before a similar collapse at a casino owned by the same developer in Cincinnati.

Several workers suffered sprains and strains when a 60-by-60-foot section of the garage collapsed while concrete was being poured for the second floor of what will be a five-story, 350-space parking deck. Eleven people were injured, none seriously.

Authorities originally said the accident would not delay the casino’s March 26 opening, but the event has now been pushed back to May 14.

Violations

OSHA accused Cleveland Cement, which specializes in parking garage construction, of serious lapses that compromised the structure and put workers at risk. Serious violations reflect hazards that pose a “substantial probability” of death or serious injury.

According to OSHA documents, the alleged violations include failure to:

• Properly design, construct and maintain concrete forming and shoring systems;

• Avoid eccentric loading of shoring stringers;

• Secure shoring stringers to shoring heads as needed; and

• Inspect forming and shoring before and during concrete placement.

The documents also said that base plates, shore heads, extension devices and adjustment screws “were not in firm contact and secured, when necessary, with the foundation and the form.”

Finally, OSHA said the contractor had not protected protruding rebar against possible worker impalement and had allowed workers to pump concrete through pneumatic hoses without wearing head and face protection.

“Contractors are responsible for knowing and following recognized construction standards, and ensuring that all proper precautions are taken on job sites to prevent workers from being injured,” said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland.

Company: Collapse ‘Unforeseeable’

Cleveland Cement Contractors said in a statement Friday (May 11):

“First, Cleveland Cement disputes the proposed citations. Second, Cleveland Cement complied with all design, construction, and safety standards. Lastly, we are continuing to work with OSHA and are requesting a conference with them.

“Neither Cleveland Cement nor OSHA, to our knowledge, was able to identify the cause of the collapse. The collapse was unforeseeable, as with respect to Cleveland Cement Contractors. As with all aspects of our business, we are taking additional steps to improve, but the cause of the collapse could have been an unforeseeable equipment failure.”

Founded in 1944, Cleveland Cement specializes in the construction of parking garages and other cast-in-place concrete structures.  The company also builds manufacturing and processing plants, powerhouses, water treatment plants, and institutional and commercial structures.

Second Collapse

Exactly six weeks after the accident at the Cleveland Horseshoe Casino, the second floor of the Cincinnati Horseshoe Casino collapsed while concrete was being poured there. About 14 people were sent to hospitals, and 11 were treated at the scene. Cleveland Cement was not involved in the Cincinnati project.

Both projects are being developed by Ohio-based Rock Gaming LLC, in partnership with Caesars Entertainment. The casinos are the first for Rock Gaming, whose chairman, Dan Gilbert, helped bring casino gaming to Ohio. Gilbert also founded Quicken Loans Inc. and is majority owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.

In the Cincinnati incident, OSHA initially cited six companies for failure to coordinate inspections and to support the structural steel; the agency leveled a total of $108,200 in fines.

Later, however, OSHA withdrew violations against two companies. On April 30, it settled with the other four:

• Messer Construction, of Cincinnati, paid a $12,600 fine (reduced from $25,200).

• J&B Steel Erectors, of Northeast Conyers, GA, paid $9,800 (reduced from $19,600).

• Pendleton Construction Group LLC, of Salt Lake, UT, paid $8,400 (reduced from $16,800).

• Jostin Concrete Construction, of Cincinnati, will pay $5,900 (reduced from $14,600).

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Concrete; Construction; Health and safety; OSHA; Parking Garages; Personal protective equipment

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