IPENZ releases report on stadium engineer
LAUREN HAYES AND CASSANDRA POKONEY
The design engineer behind the original Stadium Southland failed the public, an industry body says.
The Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) has expelled Anthony Stanley Major as a member, after a hearing last year.
Major, an Invercargill engineer, designed and observed the construction of Stadium Southland, which collapsed in September 2010 after a snow storm.
Last night, a spokesman said Major was disappointed with the decision and felt it was not a fair reflection of his culpability in this matter.
IPENZ chief executive Andrew Cleland said expulsion was the highest level of sanction available to the institution, and this was the first time an engineer had been expelled since 2000.
In a summary of the disciplinary committee's findings, Cleland said Major had failed to protect the health and safety of the public by his "casual attitude" to engineering at the time.
Its code of ethics require members to have a duty of care to protect life and to safeguard people; to undertake their duties with professionalism and integrity; and work within their levels of competence.
IPENZ found Major did none of these things and the committee said his competencies had not improved and remained below the expected current standards applicable by a professional member.
Major's responses during the investigation led the committee to question whether he possessed the technical knowledge and judgement to be design engineer on the project, Cleland said.
The committee believed Major was acting outside his level of competence in undertaking the role, he said.
Its investigation began in July 2012, after a Building and Housing Department report into the collapse was completed.
Major designed and observed the construction of the stadium. During the construction of his design the stadium roof was found to sag, IPENZ said.
Major redesigned the building, observed the construction and subsequently certified it as being compliant with the Building Code.
On September 18, 2010, after a snow storm the stadium, designed to accommodate 2556 people collapsed, but no one was injured.
"If this [collapse] had occurred during a Southern Steel match, the result would have been very different."
The spokesman for Major said the roof trusses were fabricated 3mm thinner than they should have been.
This was done to reduce costs and without his knowledge, the spokesman said.
"When this became apparent and a peer review called for modifications, he was unable to inspect the remedial work because the temporary access had been removed and he was assured the work had been carried out correctly. He relied on this and he accepts he should not have."
A Building and Housing Department report released in 2012 says collapse was partly because of defects in roof trusses.
Major appealed the IPENZ ruling but it was declined by the committee on July 9.
He could reapply to become a member but was unlikely to be successful, Cleland said. Major can still work as an engineer without being a member of IPENZ.
Southland Indoor Leisure Centre Charitable Trust chairman Acton Smith said he could not comment on Major's expulsion because he had not seen the hearing findings, but was surprised there was a decision.
"I can say, from the trust's perspective, that we have not been approached by anybody at any time regarding Major."
In March 2011, insurance giant NZI lodged a lawsuit against the Invercargill City Council and Major for $27m, claiming roof construction work on the original stadium was signed off when it was not completed properly.
A spokeswoman for IAG, which owns NZI, would not confirm whether Major was still one of the parties involved in the lawsuit but said the proceedings were ongoing.
The company declined to comment further, she said.
- The Southland Times
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