News

HOBSONVILLE PANEL COLLAPSE

It has come to the notice of Precast NZ that some people have been offended by the following item as they consider it is trivializing the tragic deaths of the three workers who were killed in this incident. We stress that was not the intention.

Any death is a tragedy and deaths in the workplace are particularly distressing.

Health and safety of all involved in our workplaces are major considerations for this industry. Health and safety is an important agenda item for every meeting and is a matter taken very seriously by our members. The industry works very hard on safety matters and we are always seeking improvement in that area. Our aim is zero harm to anybody.

Precast NZ has been active in developing codes of practice and industry guides for safe working with precast concrete.

We regret any distress or offence the item may have caused those affected by this tragedy and we offer our sincere apologies to them.

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Many of you would have been aware of the collapse of some precast panels at the Hobsonville School in December 2012. The panels were up to 10 metres high and propped in position awaiting casting in at the footing and fixing to the permanent structure.

When a tornado struck, the forces on the panels considerably exceeded the design load of the propping system and a number of panels were blown over.

Unfortunately some workers took shelter in areas where the panels fell and there were 3 fatalities.

The Department of Labour (subsequently MBIE then Worksafe) investigated the incident for possible breaches of the Health and Safety Act.

The Department of Labour engaged Dr Clark Hyland to prepare a report on the collapse.

Reids and Precast NZ requested a meeting with Department of Labour to convey that this was a specialist area and those with appropriate knowledge and experience were within the industry and were prepared to assist with the investigation.

The DoL did not accept the industry offer and advised they were satisfied that they had a suitably qualified and experienced expert and would have the report peer reviewed.

An inexperienced person reading the report commissioned by the Department of Labour would conclude that those involved in the panel erection were seriously negligent and incompetent.

On the basis of that report the police were considering criminal charges. Precast NZ advised the police that we considered the report was flawed and would be happy to give evidence to that effect to assist the defence if criminal charges were laid. The police did not proceed with criminal charges.

Charges were laid under the Health & safety Act against the contractor responsible for the construction and subcontractor responsible for panel erection.

In places the report relied on strained interpretations the Precast Code of Practice and criteria that other engineers considered inappropriate. It selectively disregarded results of testing that were favourable to the defendants.

Cross examination of Dr Hyland brought into question some aspects of the report without evidence being called to contradict the report.

Dr Clark Hyland stated early in his evidence that he hadn’t been involved in precast panel construction at that time. He later justified his status as an expert witness with appropriate experience because erection of precast panels is simply another engineering matter.

On 11 December 2014, the prosecution withdrew all charges before even completing their case, and before any defence witnesses had been called.

It would be inappropriate for me to comment in further detail, but the decision of the prosecution to drop the charges before completing their case speaks for itself.

Precast NZ was happy to be involved assisting the defence. Our involvement on the committee for The Approved Code of Practice for the Handling, Transportation and Erection of Precast Concrete was helpful.

On the basis of the Dr Clark Hyland report, hundreds of thousands of dollars of dollars have been spent on aborted prosecutions and lives and businesses have been seriously disrupted unnecessarily.

Fortunately justice prevailed in the end, but at what cost!

Business Excellence  Recognition for Nauhria

Precast NZ congratulates member Nauhria Precast for being nominated as a finalist in the 2014 Westpac Business Awards

Training Recognised

Precast NZ has supported training for our members and has been involved with BCITO (Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation) to establish courses and set the syllabus for different courses relating to precast concrete production.

Certificates awarded

Anyone can set up a bit of formwork and pour some concrete in it - how hard can that be? In reality, considerable skill and expertise is required to get quality results. The training courses are a means of developing the knowledge and skills, and successful completion is recognised by award of a certificate.

Four production workers at Stresscrete Northern are shown having just been awarded their certificates.

Our contribution to Standards is recognizedStandards Presentation

As the recognized voiceof theprecast industry, we are represented on other bodies. Your Executive Director is on the Executive of the Specialist Trade Contractors Federation, and was their representative on the committee reviewing NZS3910 Conditions ofContract for Building and Civil Engineering Construction. This is just one of the many “behind the scenes” activities where we are trying to protect the interests of our members. Although this document is for head contract conditions, those conditions flow through to our subcontracts and it is in our members interests to be involved.

The work of this committee was recognized at the Standards NZ Meritorious Awards breakfast at Parliament on 28 August 2013 with the Committee of the Year Award.

Voidable Transactions – A Double  Whammy for Subcontractors

Recent court decisions indicate that subcontractors who have already been hit by loss of progress claims on and retentions on Mainzeal jobs, are about to be hit again.

Liquidators are able to claw back up to several months of progress payments following recent court decisions. There have been suggestions that the liquidators of Mainzeal will be looking to claw back progress payments that had been made to subcontractors. As already disclosed there are insufficient assets available from Mainzeal to fund liquidators and receivers so guess who will be paying them.

An effort is being made to raise $40,000 to fund an appeal. This is possibly the single issue most worthy of support by subcontractors.

A proper understanding requires reading through two court judgments however a brief background can be obtained from Subby clawback article

Enquiries and offers of support can be made to Kevin Badcock kevin@kevinbadcock.co.nz ph 021 508 671 or to rodfulford@precastnz.org.nz

 

High Performance Precast Concrete

The American PCI website has a worthwhile section on High Performance Precast Concrete with links to an overview video and other information.

Link to High Performance Precast

Submission to the Select Committee seeking security for retentions

PCNZ Executive Director Rod Fulford made a submission to the Select Committee considering the Construction Contracts Bill to put a case for the Bill to provide for retentions on Construction Contracts to be secured against misuse by contractors or appropriation by liquidators. This will be a long battle and there is much support, but of course there is or course strong opposition from contractors who who would lose their source of long term interest free unsecured finance.

A copy of the submission can be accessed here.

Precast NZ fighting the battle on retentions

Precast NZ is actively involved in the fight for a fairer deal for subcontractors with regards to retentions. Through Specialist Trade Contractors Federation, submissions are being made to the Minister as well as submissions on the Construction Contracts Act review currently underway.

Your Executive Director is representing the Precast industry at meetings held by MBIE to discuss "the use of retentions in the construction market"

Precast NZ is supporting a seminar series being held in August to help subcontractors better understand and manage the risks involved in subcontracting. This is aimed at reducing losses such as were sustained in the Mainzeal collapse as future head contractor failures are an inevitable feature of our industry.

Meetings to discuss university projects and research

Precast NZ actively supports research projects at both Canterbury and Auckland Universities where they are furthering the knowledge of performance of precast concrete.

Your President and Executive Director met with Stefano Pampanin and Alessandro Palermo at Canterbury on 22 March, while Sandra Yassi and Sam Corney made a presentation to the Executive meeting on 23 May.

Canty meet 22March13Exec meet 23May13

Top photo discussion group following the Canterbury University meeting
Bottom photo Sandra Yassi presenting her ideas on research

5 Feb 2013 – Meeting to discuss future projects and research

Paul Cane President, and Rod Fulford Executive Director, of Precast NZ met with Professor Jason Ingham and Rick Henry of the University of Auckland to discuss continuing co operation between Precast NZ and the University with regards to future research and projects for PhD and Masters students.

Performance expectations for buildings were revised following the Feb 2011 Christchurch earthquake and a number of areas have been identified where precast concrete could play a major role in meeting these.

Further information, backed by independent research and testing, would give designers the confidence to detail precast concrete components knowing that the performance expectations would be exceeded.

A number of projects for research students starting this semester were agreed for cooperation between the University and Precast NZ. The outcome to be papers for presentation at future concrete conferences of suitable quality for incorporation in future revisions of NZS3101 Concrete Design.

Also attending was PhD candidate Sam Corney who would be leading one of the teams.

Research discussion at University of Auckland

Paul Cane, Sam Corney, Rick Henry, Professor Jason Ingham

 

4 Dec 2012 - Pacific Steel Tour

On 4 December Pacific Steel hosted a group of Precast NZ Members.

The afternoon started with an introduction and safety briefing at which each member was fitted out with full fire resistant safety gear.

The tour took the group through the whole process starting with the scrap to billet process which each year turns 90,000 car bodies into billets of various grades.

The continuous process produces identical looking billets, but each has been modified to provide the precise composition required for the end product.

This is a spectacular process that requires careful control of the huge amounts of energy and materials.

The tour covered conversion of the billets into the various products such as sheet, wire, mesh and reinforcing bar of different grades. Pacific Steel are the main suppliers of reinforcing steel in New Zealand.

Following the tour, much needed refreshments were offered with a light meal while questions were answered.

The tour gave all participants a much greater appreciation of the whole process. The better understanding and face to face contact with technical staff will be of future benefit to all.

PCNZ vist to Pacific Steel
PCNZ members fireproofed for their vist to Pacific Steel