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A containerships berthed at the Port of Auckland, New Zealand

STOCK PHOTO: Yevgeniy Zateychuk / Shutterstock.com

Port of Auckland Sentenced Over Port Worker’s Death

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1916
December 4, 2023

The Port of Auckland Limited (POAL) has been sentenced in New Zealand following their guilty plea to two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

The charges were filed by Maritime NZ following a fatal accident on August 30, 2020, where stevedore Pala’amo Kalati was crushed to death by a falling container at the Fergusson Container Terminal.

The New Zealand Herald reports that Port of Auckland has been sentenced to a NZ $500,000 fine.

Maritime NZ conducted an investigation into the incident.

Kirstie Hewlett, Director of Maritime NZ, said that Kalati’s death was a result of the risks caused and contributed to by POAL’s failures in ensuring stevedore safety.

“Those failures were long standing and systemic, putting many stevedores at risk for an extended period of time,” said Hewlett.

It is worth noting that changes to processes were made around the time of the incident due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in reduced oversight during work activities like the one taking place when the incident occurred.

The incident involved the victim and a colleague discharging containers from the MV Constantinos P as lashers on board. A crane operating adjacent to them was lifting pairs of containers off the vessel when a third container was accidentally lifted as well. Tragically, the third container detached and fell, killing Kalati.

This incident, along with two other fatal incidents in April 2022, has brought attention to the urgent need for a review and implementation of changes to health and safety practices in New Zealand ports.

“It is good to see POAL take responsibility for its actions and pleading guilty,” said Hewlett. “Over the last 20 months, Maritime NZ alongside our partners in the Port Health and Safety Leadership Group has undertaken a significant program of work to reduce harm on New Zealand’s ports.”

“We want there to be a culture in the sector that reflects the need to take a safety-first approach to operations… Port workers need to be safe at work,” Hewlett added.

A second, unidentified individual was also previously charged with two charges related to failing to comply with a health and safety duty and failing to comply with health and safety duty that exposes an individual to the risk of death or serious injury in the connection to the incident. It’s unclear the status of that case.

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