Near-fatal accident spurs first-time maritime industry action

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A Tauranga stevedore company has been subjected to the maritime industry’s first-ever enforceable undertaking because of a near-fatal accident nearly three years ago.

Logs

File photo. Photo: (kaboompics.com CCO)

An enforceable undertaking is an alternative to a court-imposed sanction, for a breach of health and safety rules. It means the issues that led to the breach must be addressed, harm caused to the victim remedied, and health and safety legislation promoted.

In December 2017, a stevedore trying to get down from logs stacked above a ship’s deck fell eight metres onto a concrete wharf at Port of Tauranga.

Maritime New Zealand, which filed charges against ISO Limited, has accepted the alternative action which will cost ISO $425,000 plus financial remedies to the worker.

The company that operated the ship where the incident occurred, China Navigation Company PTE Limited, was sentenced in July this year after a prosecution by Maritime NZ under the Maritime Transport Act.

The company was fined $24,000 and ordered to pay $30,000 in reparations.

Maritime New Zealand’s central region compliance manager Michael-Paul Abbott said the enforceable undertakings were legally enforceable agreements, and were not an easy option.

“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.”

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.

Abbott said the outcome would help stevedores in ports around the country.

Among ISO’s pledges was a commitment to developing and delivering a national training program for management personnel on working at heights in stevedoring operations.

It would also continue to provide the injured worker with ongoing support.

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