Ports on notice after more fatalities


Health and safety practices at ports will be investigated as part of range of actions being taken in response to two deaths in the sector in the space of a week

Recently we have seen a disproportionate number of injuries and fatalities in the port industry, Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Wood says.

“The actions taken today will provide clarity on how we can reduce these serious incidents.”

Wood has:

  • Directed the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) to commence an investigation into the recent port fatalities to determine any system wide lessons to improve safety
  • Requested all port companies to review their operations and provide assurances that the appropriate steps are being taken to minimise the risk of harm for all high risk activities
  • Asked the Ports Leadership Group to prepare advice on additional priority actions for the Minister to consider, including whether regulation changes are required.

In addition, Maritime New Zealand officers and WorkSafe inspectors will be undertaking assessments at each of the 13 major international commercial ports around the country over the next fortnight.

“We are sending a strong message to the port sector, every player must ensure they are doing all they can to reduce and manage risk,” Wood says.

“The TAIC investigation will provide an independent, safety focused approach to identifying wider circumstances and causes of the accident. TAIC investigations are systemic, independent and impartial, with extensive legal powers to gather and protect evidence.”

Wood says he met with port heads, unions, stevedore representatives and regulators to impress the need for an immediate shift to a safety first culture.

“Other sectors should also take notice from these recent events and remind themselves of their responsibilities to ensure the safety of their workplaces.”

National Party transport spokesperson Simeon Brown says it is time to look at whether recent health and safety regulation is actually making workplaces safer.

“It is easy for the Government to load up businesses with additional regulations and bureaucracy, but if it isn’t actually making our workplaces safer then there needs to be a serious look at what does need to be done to make a real difference.”