“Right tool at the right time” – key to Compliance Operating Model

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 44, August 2013

MNZ’s Compliance Operating Model aims to increase compliance with maritime regulations and prevent incidents and harm among commercial operators and recreational boaties.

MNZ Director Keith Manch said the model provides clear guidelines for the maritime sector – both about MNZ’s responsibilities as regulator and what MNZ expects from operators. “The model formalises our approach to compliance and will help ensure MNZ’s compliance decisions are consistent and our processes transparent,” Keith said. “We believe operators with good safety systems and operating plans will welcome this approach.”

Decisions about what action to take in response to noncompliance are based on four key factors:

  • the extent of harm (or potential harm)
  • „„the conduct of those involved
  • „„the wider public interest
  • „„the attitude to compliance of those involved.

Compliance action will be tailored to meet each individual circumstance, and designed to achieve MNZ’s vision of a maritime environment that is safe, secure, and clean. “The focus remains on preventing non-compliant behaviour that presents the greatest risk to worker health and safety, maritime security or the marine environment,” he said.

“As stated in our Compliance Strategy, the main question MNZ asks is ‘is this operator acting safely?’, rather than whether or not they have breached a minor rule. But that is not to say that MNZ won’t require an operator to fix even a minor breach in a timely manner.”

“The guiding principle of the Compliance Operating Model is that MNZ uses the ‘right tool at the right time’, ranging from support and workshops – if that’s the best way of achieving compliance – to using the full force of the law,” Keith said.

As an example, there is likely to be considerable public interest in taking firm action relating to a health and safety issue in a commercial fishing operation, given the value of the industry to New Zealand and the potential for serious harm. A different approach may be appropriate for a one-off incident that caused no harm but was a breach of rules. A compliance intervention panel made up of MNZ managers will consider complex compliance issues, including those that could lead to prosecution.

As well as investigating individual accidents and incidents, MNZ will look to identify sector-wide behaviours that lead to breaches of regulations and increased risk and take action to address these. “We will be taking an intelligenceled approach – using all available information to identify potential risks. If it is clear a wider compliance issue exists across the industry, MNZ may decide on a zero tolerance approach.”

“As regulator, our job is to maximise compliance – but it is obviously preferable to take action to prevent an accident or incident from happening in the first place,” Keith said.

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