Health and safety patrol visits mussel barges

18 April 2017

Maritime NZ teamed with the Maritime Police to conduct health and safety inspections of the high-risk mussel barge sector in the Coromandel and Firth of Thames recently.

A mussel harvester crew at work in the Coromandel.
Maritime New Zealand ©2017
A mussel harvester crew at work in the Coromandel.

The patrol boarded 15 of the 18 mussel barges that operate in the area over three days, as crews were at work – many of them conducting mussel seeding or harvesting activities. Eight vessels were issued with Improvement Notices under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), for issues such as inadequate machine guarding and lack of facilities for crew.

Four vessels also had Conditions imposed under the Maritime Transport Act 1994 for issues such as uncertified deck cranes and hydraulic oil leaks from deck machinery.

Maritime NZ Central Regional Compliance Manager, Pelin Davison, says being able to inspect these vessels while at sea enabled Maritime Officers to check actual working conditions for crews.

“We were also able to remind skippers and crews about what is expected under HSWA – including the tougher penalties and new health and safety responsibilities for workers, as well as officers and PCBUs (Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking).

“Education is a large part of the work we do – along with compliance action where needed. Crews seemed happy to have the opportunity to discuss working conditions and how they can be improved.”

The patrol was conducted with the assistance of the New Zealand Police Maritime Unit from Auckland, on-board the Deodar III, with local harbourmasters also taking part.

Recreational boaties were also spoken to – with checks done for the number of lifejackets on board, along with communication devices such as VHF radio, flares, rescue beacons and cellphones in waterproof bags.

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