Auckland stairwell collapse injures three

07:11, Sep 12 2011
Inspector Matt Sillars
NO-GO ZONE: Inspector Matt Sillars at the Mid City Arcade in Queen St, Auckland, where a stairwell collapsed.

Construction on a central Auckland site has been prohibited until further notice by the Department of Labour following a workplace accident this morning.

Three men were injured on a construction site in the Mid City Arcade in Queen St after a stairwell collapsed.

Emergency services were called to the arcade just after 10.30am and the men were taken to Auckland City Hospital with moderate injuries.

The men, all in their 40s, were assessed at the hospital's accident and emergency department and discharged just after 1pm.

A hospital spokeswoman said it was not known how far the men had fallen.

The Department of Labour is investigating the accident and said no further demolition would go ahead until contractors could assure them it could be done safely.


The Fire Service said no-one was trapped during the accident.

Police said the stairwell was part of an old movie theatre and renovations were taking place in the complex.

Inspector Matt Sillars said a staircase was being demolished and "somehow came down prematurely".

It is not known if the three people who were hurt were working on the demolition.

Ambulance, police and fire crews were all called to the scene and a the stairwell was cordoned off. Shoppers were still able to access the rest of the arcade.

The area was being renovated by construction company Watts & Hughes to transform it into 90 retail outlets. The development would be known as the Queen Street Markets.

One worker who turned up said he had been told to hang around while others said they had been sent to different jobs.

A Watts & Hughes project manager would not comment.

According to the firm's website, in the past five years none of its employees suffered serious injury or had been off work due to workplace accidents.

The business, established in 1984, described itself as a "multi-disciplined" construction and property development company that offers services in the retail, industrial, educational, health, commercial and government sectors.

The arcade runs between Queen St and Elliot St and is a well known shopping destination and New Zealand's first flagship cinema multiplex.

The markets will cover two floors, and be accessible from both Queen St and Elliot St.

The work is part of Auckland Council's $157.8 million open spaces upgrade.

In a separate incident, also on Queen St, the Fire Service and police were called to the St James Theatre just after lunch time, when a piece of sheet metal came loose from the roof. No one was injured.

Southbound lanes were closed for a short time and the traffic lights at the Queen and Wellesley St intersection was closed due to fears more iron sheets might also come loose.

The incident was reportedly caused by high winds.

Auckland Now