Filed Under:Claims, Investigative & Forensics

Preliminary Analysis: The Cincinnati Horseshoe Casino Floor Collapse

An Engineer's Perspective on What Went Wrong

Although operations have resumed at the downtown Cincinnati construction site where a second-floor collapse injured more than a dozen workers, questions about both cause and culpability linger.

On the morning of Jan. 27 at the Horseshoe Casino job site, a steel beam supporting the second floor of the structure buckled while concrete was being poured. As a 60-by 60-foot section toppled downward, 13 construction personnel suffered fairly minor injuries, including cuts, bruises, and broken bones, for which they received treatment at a local hospital. One of those workers remains in “serious condition.”

The official cause of the structural failure—and thus any implied negligence or potential wrongdoing—remains open to conjecture until official reports are issued, pending a full investigation by Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

A Nuts-and-Bolts Guide


This incident occurred less than a month after a similar Cleveland casino accident. At present, reports are chalking this up to mere coincidence, as developers insist the cases are not linked.  

Our First Look

When a steel beam supporting the casino’s second floor failed as concrete was being poured, the collapsed section formed a “V” (as evident in the image below).

Preliminarily, it appears that the floor support beam failed, pulling down the adjacent floor decking in a manner shown in the diagram below. There is ongoing debate about the number and placement of bolts at the time of collapse.

This end view of the large support beam connection shows what appears to be a failed angle connection (arrow) at the second from the top bolt holes. The angle connection points to ductile failure (elongated bolt holes) that would be consistent with only two bolts having been installed in the connection.

Pictured here is the location of the beam connection with the column. A bolt-related failure often leaves the bolts in the original hole. Other photos released to the press suggest that in this case, there may have been only two bolts holding the beam in place. There are twenty bolt holes at the connection area.


Moreover, additional photos released by local news sources depict a neighboring column with bolts inserted in the holes, but missing the nuts on several of the bolts. This tends to limit the structural integrity of the connection, especially the moment transmitting capacity.

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