New Zealand’s Stevedoring Sector Raises Concerns Over Safety Issues

Views of the two ships on which the stevedores were working; container ship Capitaine Tasman (left) and bulk carrier ETG Aquarius (right). Photo courtesy Transport Accident Investigation Commission
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The Transport Accident Investigation Commission of New Zealand has released a final report on two fatal accidents in the country’s stevedore sector, highlighting significant safety concerns that need immediate attention. The first incident occurred at the Port of Auckland when a stevedore was crushed to death by a hanging container, and the second incident happened at Lyttelton Harbor when a stevedore was found buried under coal on a bulk carrier. Naveen Kozhuppakalam, the chief accident investigator, identified three common safety issues across the sector: regulatory activity, cohesion within the industry, and safety management by individual employers.

To address these concerns, the Commission is calling on industry regulators Maritime NZ and WorkSafe to adopt a “just culture” approach that emphasizes insight, information sharing, risk management, and continuous learning. The Commission also recommends that Maritime NZ work with the stevedoring industry to establish a risk management code of conduct, minimum training standards, and ongoing improvements. The aim is to move away from self-decided safety requirements and to increase regulatory oversight and the sharing of safety information between industry players.

Furthermore, the Commission found weaknesses in risk identification and mitigation, communication, and supervisory oversight within the companies involved in the accidents. They emphasized the need for active safety leadership, good supervision, and a culture of safe work behavior in managing workplace risks. The Commission has made recommendations to the employers involved in the accidents to address these issues.

Overall, the report highlights the need for immediate action to improve safety in the stevedore sector in New Zealand. The Commission stresses the importance of regulatory oversight, industry-wide safety standards, and the sharing of safety information to ensure a safer working environment for stevedores.

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