Location: Paparoa National Park, New Zealand
Date: April 28th, 1995
Construction: New Zealand Department of Conservation
Background: A class group of 17 students and a Department of Conservation guide were on the platform when it fell 98 ft onto the rocks below. The collapsed platform and rocks at the bottom of the chasm can be seen in the images above [a].
Cause: The platform had many causes for it’s ultimate failure. One of the major causes of the disaster was that the platform was not designed or constructed by a qualified engineer, but by the local DOC members. Parts of the structure were built off site and flown in, but the plans never made it to the site, so during construction no plans were followed [b]. The steps for the platform were supposed to act as a counterweight but they were not attached properly because the steel which should have tied the platform to the stairs was misplaced and a new order was never put in. A drill could not be found during the construction so instead of using bolts, nails were used to hold the members in place. There was no building consent ever obtained for the platform, and was also never registered for inspections. There was also a limit of 5 people maximum on the platform but no sign indicating this was ever erected. [a]. The DOC blamed many of these causes due to being seriously under-funded and under-resourced [b]. The local triggers that lead to the disaster was that there was an excessive number of people on the platform, 17 to be exact, due to the lack of safety warning, and years later one of the survivors told the press that at the time of the failure the group was jumping up and down on the platform. Though, experts say that the platform was bound to fail regardless of the jumping.
After Effect: After the failure of the platform the DOC looked into their other 520 structure, of which 65 were closed for repairs. Signs were put up all over the park displaying the maximum number of people allowed on the various platforms and bridges. The platform that failed was never rebuilt and a fence and warning sign were put up in their place [a].