New Zealand Stevedoring Company Agrees to Industry-First ‘Enforceable Undertaking’ After Near-Fatal Accident

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 26
October 23, 2020

Photo courtesy Maritime NZ

One of New Zealand’s biggest stevedoring companies will pay $425,000 plus financial compensation to the victim after a near-fatal incident involving one of the company’s workers in December 2017.

The company, ISO Limited, will pay the amount under an “Enforceable Undertaking” accepted by Maritime NZ. The EU is an alternative to prosecution and is a commitment by a company to take action for any breaches of New Zealand’s Health and Safety Work Act.

Maritime NZ’s Central Region Compliance Manager, Michael-Paul Abbott, said the Enforceable Undertaking is the first in the maritime industry.

“Their aim is to improve health and safety at a workplace and across an industry, and to remedy harm caused to workers and their families. We took into account the significant commitment made by ISO to raising health and safety standards in the industry and the fact that the company had committed to provide ongoing support for the injured worker and his family,” said Abbot.

The incident in question took place in 2017 when a stevedore, who was working for ISO Limited, was trying to get down from logs stacked above a ship’s deck. He fell eight meters onto a concrete wharf at Port of Tauranga. Maritime NZ investigated and filed charges against ISO Limited under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA).

“ISO consulted with the Amalgamated Stevedores Union, the injured man and his family, the Port Industry Association, Port of Tauranga, and ship charterers when it was drafting the EU,” said Abbot.

“By working openly with all these groups and in what it has offered in the EU, ISO has shown a serious commitment to improving safety,” he added.

The company that operated the ship where the incident occurred, China Navigation Company PTE Limited, was sentenced in July of this year following a prosecution by Maritime NZ under the Maritime Transport Act. The company pleaded guilty and was fined $24,000 and ordered to pay $30,000 in reparations.

“The money [ISO Limited] is committing to spend is an investment in safety that will help stevedores in ports around the country,” Abbot added.

Under the Enforceable Undertaking, ISO Limited has committed to the following, according to Maritime NZ:

  • Develop and deliver a national training program for management personnel on working at heights in stevedoring operations. This will include risk management, the supply and maintenance safety equipment, ensuring the competency of all involved, delivering training to all ISO’s 400 stevedoring staff and ensuring the injured worker is involved in developing and delivering the training.
  • Research and develop solutions for access to and egress from above-deck cargo (getting on and off cargo stacked above decks is difficult and can be dangerous).
  • Research and develop alternative methods of descending from above-deck cargo in case of emergency.
  • Develop a stevedores’ ship safety database by working with the Port
  • Industry Association to create a national online portal where stevedores can share and access information about ships and incidents, from which to identify problematic ships and identify solutions.
  • Continue to provide the injured worker with ongoing support.
  • Make suitable donations to the Philips Search and Rescue Trust, one of whose air-ambulances transported the injured man between hospitals, and to the pre-school the man’s children attend.
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