NZ: Near-fatal incident results in 1st enforceable undertaking for maritime industry

Maritime safety authority Maritime New Zealand has accepted an enforceable undertaking (EU) from one of New Zealand’s biggest stevedoring companies, ISO Limited, after a near-fatal incident involving one of its workers in December 2017.

As informed, the EU will cost ISO Limited NZ$425,000, plus financial amends made to the victim.

The stevedore, who was trying to get down from logs stacked above a ship’s deck, fell eight metres 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).  

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

He explained that EUs are legally enforceable agreements that can be used as an alternative to prosecution and are 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,” Abbott added.

“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.

“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,” Abbott continued.

“The money it is committing to spend is an investment in safety that will help stevedores in ports around the country.” 

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