Safer Ports

Extending Maritime NZ’s health and safety mandate on ports

What's changing

  • From 1 July 2024, Maritime NZ will be the primary health and safety regulator on New Zealand’s 13 major ports – both on land and on ships.

  • Most notifiable incidents that take place on ports, with some exceptions, will be reported to Maritime NZ.

  • A new online form for notifying incidents will be available from 1 July 2024. The form will capture information required for both HSWA and MTA notifications.

  • A specialist HSWA team with staff based in five locations – Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Nelson and Christchurch – will work directly with ports, with support from Maritime NZ operational teams.

Port profiles

Following visits to the 13 major ports and discussions with ports and PCBUs, we have developed profiles – aerial maps of each port – to show the areas covered by the designation. See the port areas Maritime NZ will regulate:

Port profiles

Partnering with WorkSafe

We have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in place with WorkSafe that details how we will work together on ports after 1 July 2024.

WorkSafe will retain responsibility for regulating major hazard facilities on ports and for granting, varying, and cancelling authorisations and exemptions under HSWA. It also retains oversight of inland ports across New Zealand, and any regulatory activity where it is expressly named in legislation or regulations, such as in the Electricity and Gas acts (1992).

In performing its regulatory role on major ports, Maritime NZ will inform WorkSafe of any issues with Authorisations and Exemptions it becomes aware of. Maritime NZ’s compliance monitoring on ports will include ensuring businesses and workers hold the necessary permits and licences.

Preparing for the designation extension

Maritime NZ established the Safer Ports Programme to ensure it is ready to perform its new regulatory responsibilities from 1 July 2024. A HSWA team, with five specialist roles, is in place and has begun engaging with ports, PCBUs and unions on our regulatory approach to support the transition.

We’re building our existing frontline capability and expertise, including risk management and health and safety systems. This includes our approach for HSWA inspections and how and when we will respond to incidents and accidents reported to us.

We’re updating guidance, including Worker Engagement, Participation and Representation (WEPR), and operational policies. We’ll share the guidance and policies on our website so the sector has an understanding of how we will approach our role.

The Safer Ports Programme links into the Port Health and Safety Leadership Group, Maritime’s Ports and Harbours Governance Group, and an inter-agency oversight group.

Safer Ports Programme Factsheet - 1 May 2024 [PDF: 709 KB, 2 pages]

Enhanced port safety oversight

From 1 July 2024, Maritime NZ will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with health and safety legislation on land at ports as well as on ships.

Ports are complex, dynamic, and high-risk environments where there are a number of drivers of harm. Extending Maritime NZ’s Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) designation provides the organisation with the legal mandate and additional resourcing to take a wider view of how port businesses are managing risks, developing systems, performing safety operations, and engaging with workers.

This approach will give us better insight and understanding of how port businesses are developing their systems, and allow us to bring consistency to training approaches and standards, information sharing practices, traffic management and fatigue management plans, reporting, and more.

It will also allow us to employ a targeted harm prevention approach to improve safety culture, embed new health and safety practices, more effectively work with and regulate port-based businesses, and ultimately reduce harm to the people employed both on ships and at ports.

Port Health and Safety Leadership Group

In May 2022, following two fatalities in New Zealand ports, the previous Minister of Transport asked the Port Health and Safety Leadership Group to provide advice on what actions could can be taken to address health and safety harms at ports.

The Leadership Group, which consists of employers, unions, the Port Industry Association, and government agencies, worked together to create the Port Sector Insights Picture and Action Plan which is a foundation for the group’s multi-year harm prevention programme.

Through the Action Plan, the Leadership Group recommended that the health and safety activities Maritime NZ already performs on ships be extended onto the land side of New Zealand’s 13 major ports.

Find out more about the Port Health and Safety Leadership Group.

Port Health and Safety Leadership Group

Port Sector Insights Picture and Action Plan [PDF: 2.19Mb, 32 pages]