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Steel & Tube imposes new testing regime on seismic mesh

Steel & Tube imposes new testing regime on seismic mesh, warns of supply shortages

By Edwin Mitson

April 6 (BusinessDesk) - Steel & Tube Holdings, which is being investigated by the Commerce Commission after admitting selling "many thousands of sheets" of earthquake reinforcing mesh incorrectly labelled as being independently certified, says it will now only supply product that has been externally tested.

The company had admitted using the logo of Christchurch-based independent testing laboratory Holmes Solutions on its steel mesh for four years despite it not having carried out the tests. Steel & Tube's in-house laboratory, which is not independently accredited by national accreditation body IANZ, had been used to test the mesh. Holmes Solution's lab is accredited by IANZ.

Chief Executive Dave Taylor said the company maintains confidence in its seismic mesh and is imposing dual testing in order to reassure customers. “We wanted to provide our customers with the same assurances we have in our testing regime. We had been in discussions with our existing testing provider but due to delays, Steel & Tube had to have discussions and engage other external laboratories to carry out testing and this has taken a little while.”

While this validation process is imposed, Taylor said the company would only be selling mesh shown to be compliant by an external testing agent. He's warned that this may disrupt supply in the short-term.

Steel & Tube say despite laboratories testing against the same standard, there has been variability in the results, including in those provided by the Commerce Commission, as well as ambiguity about the interpretation of the standards.Taylor says this needs to be dealt with "Given the ambiguity and interpretation encountered by Steel & Tube, perhaps it’s time to review the standards regime through the establishment of an Industry/government working group”.

The issue at Steel & Tube only came to light when two of Steel & Tube's rivals, Euro Corp and Brilliance Steel, were ordered to stop selling their steel mesh products as the Commerce Commission looked into whether the products complied with building standards.

Steel & Tube stock rose 0.4% to $2.29 and has gained 1.8 percent since the start of the year.


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