New Zealand Charges Captain Over Unsafe Working Practices

Spinnaker SW ship
Photo: Maritime NZ

Maritime authorities in New Zealand have brought charges against the captain of a Panama-flagged bulk carrier for allowing his crew to work at height without the use of proper safety equipment.

Maritime NZ charged Jianxi Chen, Captain of the Spinnaker SW, with permitting dangerous activity involving ships or maritime products under section 65(2) of the Maritime Transport Act 1994.

Captain Chen permitted crew to load a cargo of logs onto the Spinnaker SW without the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) or systems to prevent falls from height, which caused unnecessary danger or risk to persons working on the Spinnaker SW, Maritime NZ said.

Chen pleaded guilty to the offense and was sentenced to a fine of $6,000.

Maritime NZ detained the Panama-flagged bulk carrier Spinnaker SW on 25 March 2019, at Bluff, New Zealand.

A Maritime NZ officer became aware of potential safety issues onboard the ship while it was loading logs.

The officer inspected the vessel’s Safety Management System (SMS) and personal protective equipment (PPE). The SMS required crew working at height to wear PPE. Maritime NZ said PPE itself was also in poor condition. As a result, the Maritime Officer imposed conditions on the vessel requiring operations to be conducted in accordance with the SMS, Maritime NZ said.

According to Maritime NZ, this direction was breached by the Captain, and crew aboard the vessel continued to work at height without PPE.

Mr Venz said, “It was disappointing to find that on 26 March 2019 the crew on the vessel were still working at height without safety lines or harnesses. The Maritime Officer then took immediate action escalating previous compliance actions and detained the vessel to further investigate the issues.”

The following day, a Port State Control Officer inspected the vessel and found deficiencies that allowed the ship to be detained under the Maritime Transport Act section 55.

The detention was lifted on Saturday, 30 March 2019, after the ship passed the independent International Safety Management (ISM) audit. With the court case finished, the vessel is now permitted to leave port.

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