A stevedoring company based in Tauranga, New Zealand has been ordered to pay a $90,000 fine and $20,000 in costs for safety failings that led to an excavator being dropped overboard from a logging ship in 2018.
C3 Limited had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of breaching its duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and was sentenced February 4 in the Wellington District Court.
Maritime NZ’s central compliance manager, Blair Simmons, said that the incident, which took place at Wellington’s Centreport on June 2, 2018, was particularly disappointing given it followed a similar incident at Northport in 2017 where it was incredibly lucky that no-one was injured. The previous incident resulted in a prosecution of C3 Limited and another person, with C3 being convicted and fined $240,000.
“The excavator, which was being moved between two cargo holds where it was being used to load logs, fell from its lifting arrangement attached to the ship’s crane, hit the side of the ship and fell into the water,” Simmons said.
The Maritime NZ investigation found several factors contributed to incident, including the fact that C3’s standard operating procedure (SOP) for lifting heavy machinery was not developed or reviewed by a qualified engineer, and workers were not properly trained in the procedure. In addition, the lifting technique C3 was using has been identified as poor practice and is no longer being used by other stevedoring companies in New Zealand, and the lifting lugs that were fixed to the excavator were not certified. C3 did not have a system in place for regularly testing and monitoring its workers’ hearing and vision to ensure they were fit to operate machinery such as cranes.
Simmons said the sentencing highlights the importance of staying up to date with industry best practice and having strong training and health and safety systems in place. “While no single factor can be identified as the cause of the incident, there were clearly several serious health and safety failings that needed to be urgently addressed.”