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Hard Rock OSHA citations: 'Stay tuned until the final report', professor says

UNO engineering professor Norma Jean Mattei cautions that we still don't know the full story.

NEW ORLEANS — The federal government has issued hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines against the engineers and contractors who were building the Hard Rock Hotel.

And while those citations appear to give a reason for the collapse, one engineer said we don't have the definite answer just yet.

The citations from OSHA are included in a document that comes in at a whopping 125 pages.

And while the document offers a look at what might've led to the deadly collapse, UNO engineering professor Norma Jean Mattei cautions that we still don't know the full story.

"These citations are preliminary and all of the entities cited will have the opportunity to meet with OSHA and review issues and they may bring more information to the table then," the engineering professor said.

But she said that of all of the citations, the one that troubles her the most is the second one against Heaslip Engineering.

It claims a "willful" violation that could have led to "death or serious physical harm to employees."

"The definition of OSHA's 'willful' designation is 'to have knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement,'" Mattei said. "And I would hope and would doubt that the structural engineer would do that. The second part is 'or acted with plain indifference.'"

OSHA inspectors said the design and engineering of upper floors weren't done properly.

They said floor beams on the 16th floor weren't strong enough, and columns on the 17th and 18th floors were too far apart and carried too much weight.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, Heaslip Engineer said it "adamantly disputes the findings."

The company also said it will contest the claims, something Mattei said could lead to new findings.

"They obviously had anything that was publicly available," Mattei said. "This is not like a court case where they go in and grab information."

And while everyone waits to find out the true cause, Mattei has one piece of advice.

 "Stay tuned until the final report comes out."

OSHA fined more than 11 contractors and companies, including Heaslip. Those fines total more than $315,000.

RELATED: Hard Rock engineer's 'willful' violations led to building's collapse, OSHA citation says

RELATED: Hard Rock Hotel’s owner wants traditional demolition, but city says it’s not in favor

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