Casino construction to resume Wednesday

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati City Council members were briefed Tuesday morning on the latest details of Friday's casino collapse that injured 13 workers.

Amit Ghosh, Deputy Director of Buildings and Inspections for the city addressed council concerns regarding the casino accident during a Major Transportation and Infrastructure Projects subcommittee meeting. He says work is expected to resume by the end of the week on certain areas surrounding the collapse.

Messer Construction Co. confirmed that construction on all unrestricted areas of the site will resume Wednesday. In a statement, Tom Keckeis, President and CEO of Messer Construction, said:

The investigations by OSHA and the City of Cincinnati into the cause of the casino bay collapse on Friday remain ongoing and have the full support and cooperation of Messer Construction Co.

While we cannot comment on the details of the incident until the investigation is complete our project design and safety teams have reviewed all aspects of the construction, safety and inspection protocols, and we are implementing additional procedures to prevent this from happening again.

No part of this process has been or will in the future be compromised by the project schedule. We are confident that our augmented protocols for supervising, inspecting, and verifying all work performed in the construction schedule can be performed safely, or it will not go forward.

Worker safety remains the priority of all parties involved as we resume work on this important project. Based on receiving approvals, we will resume construction on all unrestricted areas of the site tomorrow, February 1st.

Ghosh says they can begin work on the parking garage which he says is a separate concrete structure.

"There'll be a substantial area around that area of collapse that will be off limits," Ghosh explained.

He says because of the site's large footprint, however, there will still be plenty of areas where work will continue.

Ghosh made a point of drawing a clear distinction between the role of OSHA and that of the city's building inspections department.

"OSHA's role is to make sure the work force is safe," Ghosh said. "Our role in this that when the building is complete, when all the systems are commissioned … we issue a certificate of occupancy that the building is safe for its intended use."

Ghosh did confirm that Messer construction had been using a third party engineer to conduct inspections on the site.

"In large projects, and this is a nationwide practice that building owners chose to have their own third party inspectors that they employ," Ghosh explained. He says the decision was made in part due to the extended hours of construction that include weekend shifts.

While he would not address the specifics of what may have caused the accident, Ghosh did say there would be some changes moving forward to improve safety on the site.

Ghosh said if they had demanded that all of the columns be erected and all beams put up and braced together before any concrete was poured it would have greatly extended the timeline of the project.

"That's why we've allowed them at their own choosing to have some of the base constructed as they find it fit and have the beams in place," he said. "The construction managers followed a certain procedure for temporary connections. They could do that at their choosing,  their own risk. But they have offered now to say 'No, we will make permanent connections just to be safe'."

Ghosh says Messer construction will now update the city any time concrete is poured.

"All connections that they make from now on will be completely connected and we will get a structural engineers report before every pour that's made," Ghosh said.

Some council members questioned why permanent connections were not required earlier.

"Now we're making the full connections to be safe," council member Chris Seelbach said. "Should we not have made those connections to be safe beforehand? Or is that something that's accepted across the board as industry standard?"

"Temporary connections are common practice in the steel construction industry," Ghosh replied.

Rock Gaming, the casino developer, said during a press conference on Friday that the casino remains on schedule for a Spring 2013 opening.

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