Another step forward for work health and safety on ports
Further health and safety improvements are on the way for ports, with the Government now confirming changes that mean one primary regulator, Maritime NZ, will have oversight over most port operations.
Maritime NZ Chief Executive Kirstie Hewlett says the recent decision to extend Maritime NZ’s Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) designation to cover the land side of New Zealand’s 13 commercial ports, will enable a holistic and targeted approach to supporting port businesses improve health and safety.
“Ports are complex, dynamic and high-risk environments where there are a number of drivers of harm. This change will allow us to take a wider view of how port operations are conducted, and alongside port businesses, take the required multifaceted approach to preventing harm.”
“We will be able to more effectively work with, and regulate, businesses that carry out high-risk port-based activities to improve health and safety on ports. The extended designation also comes with resourcing to enable a greater presence on ports over time.
“Ultimately it’s about supporting those who work on ports to go home safe to their families.”
Currently accidents or incidents that take place on land must be reported to WorkSafe New Zealand and those that take place on vessels and ship to wharf must be reported to Maritime NZ.
The extension of the designation was one of the recommendations made by the Port Health and Safety Leadership Group in their recently-released Port Sector Insights Picture and Action Plan.
The plan was based on feedback and data collected from workers and port businesses in the wake of the death of two port workers in Lyttleton and Auckland last year.
“Feedback from the sector told us that having one regulator would make it easier to get an end-to-end sense of how these businesses are developing systems, performing safety operations, and engaging with workers.
“Maritime NZ will be engaging widely with the sector later this year on the designation, how it will work in practice and what it will mean for those working on the 13 commercial ports.
“We’ve done some early work to scope the various actions that will be required to implement this change, and will be working closely with WorkSafe over the next year or so to ensure everything is in place to make this a seamless transition,” says Ms Hewlett.
WorkSafe Chief Executive Phil Parkes says Maritime NZ has the experience and knowledge relevant to key health and safety risks at ports and the change will make it easier for everyone working on ports to understand their health and safety responsibilities.
“This will provide good clarity to businesses, organisations and workers who work in port environments,” says Mr Parkes.
"The different work in these environments can be complex, so helping all involved understand who their regulator is in any given scenario will be a big benefit.
“WorkSafe will continue to have a close working relationship with Maritime NZ around health and safety."
WorkSafe will remain responsible for some specific areas and processes, including major hazard facilities and permitting and licensing regimes.
Maritime NZ will monitor and enforce compliance with duties for workplaces, work, workers or things to be authorized.
Maritime NZ’s designation will include the area of ports inside their boundary fence where access is restricted by a security gate, and adjacent buildings, installations, structures, or equipment used in connection with the port’s operation or administration.
The extended designation will take effect on 1 July 2024.