Maritime operators on board with HSWA

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 50, June 2016

Maritime operators, large and small, are preparing to meet the requirements of the new Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) that came into force last month.

“Our staff has undergone training and the new requirements for officers and workers are already in place. Not much changed for us on April 4,” says Dave Evans, group compliance manager for Sanford.

Sanford reports a marked increase in awareness about health and safety amongst all employees, as well as an increase in incident reporting. Last year Sanford carried out an independent audit of board governance, and health and safety systems, processes and performance in preparation for the Act coming into force.

Sanford’s board and executive team conduct periodic health and safety inspection visits to vessels and factories, where they have a first-hand opportunity to engage directly with line management and staff. Sanford management also regularly attend health and safety meetings with PrimePort, other port users, and both Maritime NZ and WorkSafe NZ representatives.

Veronica McDonald and Gail Swanepoel.
Sanford health and safety co-ordinators: Veronica McDonald, based in Auckland, and Gail Swanepoel, based in Tauranga.
Maritime New Zealand ©2019

According to Dave, smaller operators are aware of the new Act but are uncertain what they need to do comply with it.

“There needs to be more engagement at the coalface. A lot of small operators don’t know what they need to do. People don’t have time to read a lot of complicated material on a website – they need someone to talk to face-to-face,” says Dave.

Doug Loder, president of the Federation of Commercial Fisherman, agrees that small operators are not yet ready and have questions about what it means to them.

“We’ve been working closely with Maritime NZ and are looking to them to provide us with guidance. We’d like to see FishSafe initiated again. That should be the safety bible for fishermen. In the past, fisherman never had signs or identified hazards when people come on board. FishSafe and MOSS boosted awareness of hazards,” says Doug.

Maritime NZ director Keith Manch says “it’s good to see that sector leaders are on the front foot with these important health and safety reforms. It’s clear that we at Maritime NZ have more work to do in helping smaller operators understand their obligations – which will be somewhat different than the large players. We are developing guidance specifically for small operators that will feature scenarios of typical maritime operators, and explain how the new requirements apply to them”.

“Our aim is to provide clear direction through plain English guidance and the help, support and advice of our maritime officers,” says Keith.

An industry user group has been formed to provide input and help shape future Maritime NZ health and safety informational material.

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