Port of Auckland Fined Over Stevedore’s Fall from Maersk Containership

Photo: Ports of Aukland Limited
Photo: Ports of Aukland Limited

New Zealand’s Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) has been fined NZD$55,000 (US$41,000) and ordered to pay NZD$25,000 in reparation to a stevedore who was seriously injured in a fall while unloading a containership at the port in January 2014.

POAL admitted to a charge of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employee under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. The sentence was handed down in Auckland District Court on Friday.

According to Maritime New Zealand, the stevedore was injured while attempting to dislodge a twist-lock that was stuck in the top of a two-high container stack on board the MV Lica Maersk. MNZ said the the man was using a 5m unlocking pole which, with the weight of the twist lock, pulled him from the top of a container 15 meters down to the water. During his fall, he hit a crane beam, and then the wharf, before landing in the water where he spent approximately 15 minutes due to difficulties in rescuing him from the narrow space.

The man suffered multiple injuries including breaking both legs, three fractured vertebrae, 10 fractured ribs, fractures to his sternum, a lacerated lung, and two fractured tendons in his left hand, MNZ reported. The man spent for three months after the accident and is unlikely to return to work as a stevedore.

The investigation by Maritime NZ found that no safety rail was in place in the area the man was working because it was covered by container lashing equipment.

POAL management had identified that use of unlocking poles to remove twist-locks was hazardous in mid-2013 but stevedores were not told they should not be used. The company also failed to provide adequate training in relation to ship inspections and health and safety procedures and failed to adequately monitor employees to identify and prevent unsafe work practices.

Maritime NZ Director Keith Manch said the sentence reflected the seriousness of the incident and ramifications for the stevedore involved.

“There were multiple failings of procedures and communication in this case and the long term effects for the injured man have been devastating,” he said.

“Health and safety must be taken seriously. All workers have the right to safe workplaces and to go home healthy at the end of the day.”