A New Zealand court has fined Dredging NZ NZD79,500 (USD52,494) and ordered it to pay NZD42,000 in reparation following a worker’s death in Westpark Marina, west Auckland, in 2013.
The Auckland District Court sentenced the company on 21 July under Section 6 of the Health and Safety Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure workers’ safety.
Peter Bateman was crushed to death between an excavator and a hopper on a dredging barge skippered by Brent Darrach on 19 November 2013, national regulator Maritime New Zealand reported today.
In May Darrach was fined NZD10,000 and ordered to pay NZD18,000 reparation for failing to ensure that no one is harmed because of his action or inaction while at work.
At the time of the fatality Bateman had boarded Darrach’s barge to return to the wharf. He was killed when the excavator arm used to move the barge rotated, crushing him against a hopper.
No danger zone was marked on the barge and Dredging NZ had no safety protocols for operation of the vessel, Maritime NZ reported.
“This was a tragic event that could have been avoided if appropriate safety systems were in place,” Maritime NZ director Keith Manch said.
The ruling comes after two port deaths went before New Zealand courts in June 2015. On 17 June the Lyttleton Port Company pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ensure a worker’s safety following the death of port worker Brad Fletcher in August 2014. On 4 June a Wellington court sentenced CentrePort for the death of dock worker Mark Samoa on 20 January 2013.
Maritime Union of New Zealand national secretary Joe Fleetwood has called for a national inquiry into port safety. In a series of media releases he blamed the lack of port safety on “casualisation, speed-ups, irregular shifts that were causing fatigue, and reduced manning”.
In recent months four dock workers have been seriously injured. On 1 July a dock worker was hospitalised after a straddle crash in Port Chalmers, Dunedin. On 3 March a worker broke an arm after a fall on board a vessel in the Port of Lyttelton, Christchurch, and on 4 March two workers in the Port of Timaru were hospitalised after an accident on board a container vessel, according to the union.