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Prosecution highlights health and safety issues

14 AUGUST 2008

Prosecution highlights vessel health and safety issues

An incident on board the factory fishing vessel Rehua in which a crewmember lost four fingers last year highlights the need for safe operating procedures, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) says.

At sentencing in the Nelson District Court today, Sealord Group Ltd was fined $38,000 and ordered to pay the crewman $25,000 in reparation after earlier pleading guilty to two charges brought by MNZ under the Health and Safety in Employment Act. The company was also ordered to pay court costs of $1500.

The sentencing judge acknowledged Sealord had already paid reparation to the injured man.

The fingers on the crewman’s right hand were severed while he was cleaning the fish-loading hatch on board the fishing trawler Rehua on 8 July 2007.

Two fingers were later successfully re-attached.

Maritime New Zealand General Manager Maritime Operations John Mansell said the case showed the need for safe operating procedures to be in place around all identified hazards, and for all crew to be aware of them.

“In this case Sealord had identified the risk of amputation or injury as a possible hazard when using the hatches to process fish, but had not considered the risk when cleaning them.

“There was therefore a gap in the health and safety processes they had in place to deal with possible hazards.”

It was important when reviewing hazards within the workplace that all potential risks were identified and safe practices put in place to deal with them, Mr Mansell said.

``Under the Act, the entire vessel is a workplace, from stem to stern, no matter what the process or action undertaken by the individual.”

The company implemented new health and safety procedures for crew members cleaning the fish-loading hatches following the accident, along with new safety lockouts for the safer operation of the hatch. These items were easily and quickly installed shortly after the accident.


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