Over 40% inspection campaign

Maritime NZ inspected commercial operators who had scored 40% or more in their risk rating when they first entered the Maritime Operator Safety System (MOSS).
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This campaign was conducted during the second half of 2017 and the first half of 2018. The inspections were undertaken across different sectors including fishing, passenger and non-passenger operations.

The inspections had a strong interface between HSWA and MOSS, and this was an opportunity to dig deeper into the operator’s safety management system than would be typical of a statutory rules-based MOSS audit.


No surprises approach

The inspections had a particular focus on areas of known non-compliance across the industry, even if the operator being inspected had not been specifically identified as failing in that area. The focus areas were:

    • Drug and alcohol management

Under MOSS, operators must have a drug and alcohol policy. A policy in a good safety management system (SMS) will be a high-level aspirational statement in relation to the subject matter that is put into action through effective procedures by clearly-designated people. However, if a maritime operator only has a policy, but no procedures, they could argue that they comply with the rule and this is an issue for MOSS audits. HSWA requires more than that and of the 33 operators inspected it was found that 30 had a full and robust drugs and alcohol management system that often started from a zero-tolerance policy and dry ships. Pre-employment, post-incident and random checks also featured in their systems.

Meanwhile, two operators inspected had policies, but no meaningful implementation of those, beyond statements to the inspectors that they simply don’t employ people who use drugs, so they don’t need anything more than what they have in their MTOP. One operator did not have a drug and alcohol policy at all.

  • Fatigue management
  • Survey plans
  • Safety equipment and spare parts lists
  • Other HSWA issues that arose during the inspection


Some general observations can be drawn from the inspections.

Drug and alcohol management

Fatigue management

Drugs and alcohol issues were very well managed by the operators (PCBU) inspected. However, fatigue is a particular concern and focus for Maritime NZ, and other compliance activities we have undertaken suggest that fatigue is not managed to the same standard as drugs and alcohol. However, during this campaign, 27 operators were found to be managing fatigue either very well or to an acceptable level for their operation.

Of the six who were assessed as marginal, two were small businesses only undertaking day work, so they probably could have been rated as acceptable. The other four only had a policy in their MTOPs with no real understanding about the management of fatigue, but they were not considered by the inspectors to be cavalier about this issue – that they may not have documented procedures, but they were probably managing the issues satisfactorily. Therefore, no compliance action was taken against them. Instead, an assisted compliance approach was taken with the provision of information and advice about this topic.

Survey plans

29 of the operators inspected had good survey plans that were correctly signed off by the surveyor. The operators were following those plans and they understood that any modifications to their vessels required prior approval from their surveyor. However, one of those operators did not recall seeing a surveyor report for his vessel and he could not produce that. For two more operators, the inspectors noted words to the effect that they were ‘not good with paperwork,’ so they could not produce all of the required documents during the inspection. However, they generally had well-maintained vessels and Maritime NZ’s records indicated that the surveys had been completed.

Safety equipment and spare parts lists

This was the topic with the greatest variations across the operators inspected. 25 operators had the mandatory lists in their MTOPs and on board the vessels, and the items on those lists were present and valid. The remaining eight operators had discrepancies between their lists and the items on board, or they had safety-critical equipment, such as distress flares, that had expired. Those operators usually quickly rectified the issues, often before the inspectors left the vessels.

Other HSWA issues that arose during the inspection

Other HSWA issues were also raised and discussed during the inspections, including bar crossings for one operator, and a bilge handle had snapped off on another vessel and needed to be replaced.