Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) has been fined $49,980 and ordered to pay $12,000 in reparations after a stevedore employed by the company fell nearly 3m off the unguarded edge of a hatch lid, leaving him temporarily unconscious and fracturing his elbow.
POAL pleaded guilty to a charge laid by Maritime NZ under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees at work and was sentenced in Auckland District Court on Friday (17 June 2016).
The stevedore was working aboard the container ship Spirit of Independence on 11 October 2014, observing the foreman and another worker de-lash a container, when he stepped off the edge of the hatch lid and fell 2.78m to the deck.
The hatch lid was 1.7m wide. No safety rails were fitted. The hatch lid was used to access containers because ladders on board the vessel were designed for people of small stature and not generally used by stevedores.
“This sentence highlights the need for those managing workers on board ships to ensure that not only are measures in place to ensure workers are safe, but that these measures are communicated properly,” Maritime NZ General Manager Maritime Compliance Harry Hawthorn said.
“POAL knew that stevedores frequently used the easier, faster option of walking across the hatch lid rather than using the ladders – but the lack of safety rails on the hatch was not identified at the ship specific safety briefing for stevedores.
“While the company stated it had a policy that stevedores stay at least 1.4m away from the edges where a fall could occur, this was not widely known by workers on the date of the incident. No requirement appears in documents used to train container lashers.
“Effective communication of the requirement to stay at least 1.4 metres from the edge where there is a falling hazard may have reduced the likelihood of the stevedore falling.”
In March 2015 POAL was fined $55,000 and ordered to pay $25,000 in reparation to a stevedore who suffered serious injuries unloading a container ship when he fell 15m from the top of a container.