Council says bank wouldn’t have collapsed if consent complied with
Property developer Brent Clode & his companies were fined $89,000 in the Auckland District Court on Thursday for causing the death of 1 worker and serious injury to another in the earthworks of the 1 Parliament St apartment development in January 2002.
Auckland City Council laid charges against Mr Clode and Clode Consulting Ltd under section 80 of the Building Act in 2 broad categories:
carrying out unauthorised work, or permitting others to carry out work, otherwise than in accordance with a current building consent, and
using a precast concrete panel along the Parliament St boundary as a wall, a use for which it wasn’t safe.The Labour Department’s Occupational Health & Safety Service (OSH) laid charges relating to the failure of Mr Clode, Clode Consulting, Raiser Development Ltd (also owned by Mr Clode) and its site foreman, Glen Geldard, to ensure people were kept safe from injury at the site and, in this instance, death.
Mr Clode had already paid $11,000 paid to the victims & their families. Mr Geldard was fined $5,000.
Mr Clode has since sold his interest in the project, Multiplex Constructions NZ Ltd took over the building roles and the 14-storey block, with 4-level basement parking, is opening as The Statesman.
The council’s principal building officer, Bob De Leur, said the 6-7m deep excavated face of the Parliament St boundary bank collapsed on 21 January 2002. The collapse began at the corner of Eden Crescent & Parliament St when a large section of soil fell from the top part of the bank’s vertically cut face.
The collapse occurred along about half the Parliament St boundary. The collapsing soil pushed 2 of the 1st 3 precast panels over and the panel nearest the end where the collapse started fell on Allied Workforce employee Te Rue Taparia John Tearetoa, killing him. A large excavator was working in the corner at the time.
Raiser Development Ltd worker Leslie Harvey was standing in that corner and was buried up to his shoulders in soil. He suffered a serious knee injury when he was pulled out. A 3rd worker, Jim Matana, narrowly escaped injury from the falling panel.
The council said Mr Clode, a 1988 Olympian kayaker, effectively controlled the construction site. He was also the engineer responsible for inspecting basement retaining walls & excavation.
Mr De Leur said that if the building work had been carried out as it was shown on the approved building consent, “the construction would have been safe and this fatality would not have occurred.”
He said the council was concerned that other site contractors & employees had wanted to raise alarms earlier about the risk of Mr Clode’s actions, and were further disappointed to learn he arranged for his own company, Raiser, to continue carrying out work in the dangerous area when another company had stopped drilling pile holes under the bank.
The entire project was to be constructed on a 5-stage building consent application process. At the time of the collapse, 3 stages had been applied for and 2 had been consented to.
Mr De Leur said that if the works had been carried out as consented to, there would have been no cut face of that magnitude, nor any such sized panel. It was also not good engineering practice to have a 7m-high exposed cut face but, if it had been adequately supported & retained, there would have been no collapse.