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Steel & Tube agrees to sell only independently tested mesh; ComCom probe continues

Friday 29th April 2016

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Steel & Tube Holdings has agreed to sell only seismic reinforcing steel mesh which has been independently tested, the Commerce Commission said.

The regulator said in a statement that it signed court enforceable undertakings with Steel & Tube yesterday, under which the company will only sell its SE62 500E grade steel mesh that passes specific independent testing.

Earlier this month, the regulator said the mesh, which it tested as part of an investigation into Steel & Tube, didn't meet the requirements of the standard and would not be sold until compliance could be demonstrated. A sample from Fletcher Building was tested as part of the investigation, with no concerns raised.

"The testing requirements are in line with an expected clarification to the standard that MBIE is currently developing, after convening a technical advisory meeting with industry and technical experts on 14 April," the commission said. "The clarification will be designed to ensure a uniform approach to testing steel mesh under the standard and remove any confusion over the appropriate testing methodology. The commission will reassess the need for court enforceable undertakings when MBIE has clarified or amended the standard."

The standard referred to is the joint Australia and New Zealand standard for steel reinforcing materials. 

It is continuing its investigation into whether Steel & Tube breached the Fair Trading Act by producing testing certificates which included the logo of a laboratory which did not undertake the testing or by making misleading or unsubstantiated representations that the steel it supplied complied with the standard.

Last week the commission entered into a similar arrangement with Euro Corp which, along with Brilliance Steel, agreed last month to stop selling steel mesh products after the commission’s initial testing showed they didn’t meet the standard requirements in relation to elongation, which are designed to ensure the steel stretches under pressure or movement during an earthquake.

Steel mesh is used as reinforcement in concrete floor slabs used during the construction of houses, garages, and other buildings and can also be used for driveways and pathways. After the Canterbury earthquake in 2011, the ductility level was increased to a minimum elongation of 10 percent from about 2 percent formerly.

The commission is conducting a wider investigation into the industry, focused on possible misrepresentations on the mesh’s performance characteristics which would breach the Fair Trading Act.

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