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Maritime NZ’s Response To TAIC’s Report On Safety At Ports

Health and safety on ports is a major priority for Maritime NZ.

"Everyone has the right to be safe when they go to work," Maritime NZ’s Director, Kirstie Hewlett says.

"Any incident on a port is one too many, and everyone at Maritime NZ extends their thoughts to those who have been injured at ports, as well as to the friends and families who have lost loved ones."

TAIC makes a number of recommendations aimed at improving safety standards on ports. Currently, Maritime NZ and WorkSafe share designation overseeing health and safety at ports, several of the recommendations are directed to the two regulators.

From 1 July 2024, Maritime NZ will take over the designation as the sole regulator on ports.

"We partially accept two of the recommendations that have been directed to us by the Commission, and fully accept the other two," Ms Hewlett says.

"It recommends the regulators aim to take a more proactive role in driving safety on ports. We partially accept this recommendation, as we believe our assessments focused on critical risks on ports, with WorkSafe NZ, is proactive monitoring activity and looks at individual operators. We agree that there is always more opportunity to work proactively and we welcome the additional funding that comes with our designation extension from 1 July 2024, so we can carry out more proactive monitoring on ports.

We are proud of the proactive work we have done with the sector through the Port Health and Safety Leadership Group. This group, made up of both regulators, and Chaired by Maritime NZ, has port and stevedore chief executives, the Port Industry Association, and unions and has built a relationship of trust and made significant progress on health and safety on ports.

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The Leadership Group earlier this year released a Port Sector Insights Picture and Action Plan to make ports safer. The insights pictures shows where, and why harm is happening on ports. The Plan was created from operator and regulator incident and notification data, and also worker perspectives. It outlines actions to address these harms. Significant progress has been made on implementing some of the actions since it was released.

Two of these actions show the Commission’s recommendations are already being implemented. Work is continuing to develop more consistent safety standards on ports, with a draft Approved Code of Practice for loading and discharging cargo on ports and on ships currently out for consultation.

The Leadership Group also has actions underway to continuously improve safety and share good practice. This includes completion of a platform where people can access new safety technologies, and the development of a work programme on good practice guidance that will sit under the ACOP. The Leadership Group is working to ensure this information is accessible for the industry and the workers.

A further action under the plan is to improve workforce training, capability and understanding of risks. This includes whether future standards will be backed by the regulator (Maritime NZ), as recommended by TAIC. Decisions on this potential backing will need to be made by the relevant ministers.

"The critical thing for us all to remember is that Health and safety is everyone’s responsibility and we want there to be a culture in the sector that reflects the need to take a safety-first approach to operations. We look forward to continuing our collaborative work with operators and workers on ports to improve safety," Ms Hewlett says.

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