By NZHJ April 07, 2016 Industry News

Are the ongoing issues around compliance in steel reinforcing mesh about product quality or testing standards?

The latest instalment is that  Steel & Tube will be restricting supply in the interim to seismic mesh product that has been tested by an external party.

statement posted on the NZX yesterday by Steel & Tube says: "Removing any doubt around product compliance will see Steel & Tube only supplying seismic mesh tested by an external laboratory. This follows questions raised in recent weeks around the industry’s compliance of seismic mesh.

"Steel & Tube CEO Dave Taylor says the company maintains confidence in its seismic mesh, and to reassure customers, mesh supplied by Steel & Tube will now be subject to dual testing and must pass both the in-house and an external laboratory testing."

Steel & Tube says it has been "surprised by the variability in the [testing] results, including results provided by the Commerce Commission, and has encountered significant ambiguity around the interpretation of the testing standards."

And all this despite the laboratories testing against the same standard (Australia/New Zealand standard AS/NZ 4671:2001), it says.

These latest actions stem from the Commerce Commission's ongoing investigation into seismic steel mesh, which has found that a sample of Steel & Tube product did not meet that standard.

Back early in March, Brilliance Steel and Euro Corporation agreed to stop selling some steel mesh products (grade 500E sheets of ductile steel mesh sold since mid-2012, products 147E and SE615 respectively) while the Commerce Commission further investigated concerns that they may not comply with the standard. 


Failing the test doesn't mean it's non-compliant

However, qualifies the Commerce Commission in a statement issued yesterday about the Steel & Tube product: "The Commission’s tests alone do not establish non-compliance. They show that the sheets of mesh tested failed the testing."

It continues: "There are a number of ways to meet that standard and information has been requested from Steel & Tube to substantiate their claims that the product does comply with the standard."

Commerce Commission also tested a sample of steel mesh from Fletcher Building. "Those tests did not raise concerns," it says.

To reinforce the point (forgive the pun) made in our headline and above about ComCom's testing not necessarily meaning non-compliance with the standard, on 4 March MBIE said:

"MBIE is not concerned that the product [from Brilliance or Euro Corp] under Commerce Commission investigation poses a safety risk for newly built houses and is confident they will still comply with the Building Code."

Having said this, says MBIE, their use in multi-storey or commercial buildings would need to be investigated.

MBIE’s General Manager Building System Performance Derek Baxter goes on to say: “This is an issue of standards, not safety. Whatever the outcome, people don’t need to worry if they’ve built a house with a concrete slab in it since mid-2012 and one of these products was used."

MBIE has a useful plain English Q&A around ductile steel reinforcing mesh which you can find here (PDF).

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