Maritime NZ educates operators in HSWA

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 51, December 2016

The priority for Maritime NZ health and safety inspectors has been to educate and support commercial operators in what’s required under the new Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA), since its introduction in April.

Maritime NZ General Manager of Maritime Compliance, Harry Hawthorn, says Maritime Officers (MOs), who have trained as Health and Safety Inspectors, have been out and about talking with as many operators as possible over the past six months.

Around 85 HSWA assessments have been completed - most of them done at the same time as Maritime Operator Safety System (MOSS) audits.

One-off patrols have also enabled education and compliance checks at sea.

Harry says crew on fishing vessels and mussel barges willingly engaged with Maritime Officers during a patrol in the Marlborough Sounds mid-year, undertaken with the assistance of Maritime Police and the Lady Elizabeth IV Police launch. A total of 16 vessels were inspected and there was a high standard of compliance, he says.

Mussel barges.
Maritime New Zealand © 2020
Mussel barges were among the vessels inspected by Maritime NZ during a patrol in the Marlborough Sounds earlier this year, to check compliance with health and safety requirements.

“The main purpose was to talk with skippers and crew, while they were working at sea, about what is expected under HSWA - including the new responsibilities for officers and workers, and tougher penalties.

“Our team discussed possible solutions to technical and systemic issues; for example monitoring that safety procedures are followed around the use of machinery.”

Harry says they were heartened to get positive feedback in the Sounds from operators they met. “Most had received our new guide - Health and Safety at Work: A Guide for Mariners - and were happy to discuss how it applies on board.

Johnny Persico and Andy Cox.
Maritime Officers, who are also warranted Health and Safety Inspectors, discuss requirements with commercial operators.
Royal New Zealand Navy © 2020

“Maritime officers talked about safety concerns such as the need for guards on high-hazard machinery and to keep access doors clear of gear and cargo.”

Enforcement action was also taken as required. One prohibition notice and four improvement notices were issued, across two vessels.

Across the country around 25 notices have been issued under the new Act, for a wide range of safety hazards including unguarded machinery and a worn tread plate on the deck of a vessel. A safety inspection was also conducted after receipt of an on-line alert from a member of the public that a child had slipped through a gap in a safety balustrade on a passenger vessel. As a result of on-site discussions, the operator organised for an additional rail to be welded to the balustrade to narrow the gap.

Maritime NZ is responsible for administering and enforcing HSWA and associated regulations for work on board ships, and where ships are places of work. It also provides health and safety resources, including guidance about implementing the new Act in the maritime sector.

A wide range of HSWA guidance for maritime operators, and the new 60-page guide and quick reference sheet, can be found on the Maritime NZ:

HSWA guidance


Back to index

Cover of Issue 50
Return to the index for Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 51, December 2016
Return to index
Previous: Safer Boating campaign wins awards
Next: Industry Forum for World Maritime Day