Following a Commerce Commission investigation, supplier Steel and Tube has voluntarily placed the supply of its seismic reinforcing mesh on hold. On 21 March, we blogged about the Commerce Commission investigations regarding several steel mesh retailers, after testing raising questions over whether the products complied with the relevant standard (AS/NZS 4671:2001). Suppliers Euro Corp and Brilliance Steel had already been required to stop selling their product.
The product is used on every new home built on concrete slab, and many multi-storey buildings. The ductile mesh should be able to stretch significantly, so that it does not shatter and cause further damage to slab floors or walls in an earthquake.
With two of the biggest suppliers, Steel and Tube and Euro Corp temporarily out of the game, there has been some speculation as to whether we will see a rise in cost of seismic reinforcing mesh, or a delay in construction due to a possible shortage. Others are sceptical – Fletcher Construction has put its Fletcher Steel Distribution forward as a possible solution, stating that it could ramp up its production if needed.
Steel and Tube has questioned the interpretation of the relevant standard and the testing commissioned by the Commerce Commision, and is seeking its own external testing to demonstrate compliance with the relevant standard. Regardless of the outcome of that testing, at the very least, this episode has demonstrated that more robust testing and control measures – including external testing as a matter of course – may be required before suppliers release their product to market.