Maritime NZ extends health and safety role at 13 major ports

01 July 2024

Starting 1 July 2024, a significant shift in New Zealand’s port health and safety has taken place with Maritime NZ becoming the primary regulator for the country’s 13 major ports.

Maritime NZ Chief Executive Kirstie Hewlett says the extension of Maritime NZ’s Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) designation represents a significant opportunity for the regulator and those operating on ports to enhance safety and prevent harm for port workers.

“Having one primary regulator on ports, as recommended by the Port Health and Safety Leadership Group, will enable better engagement with many of the businesses on ports around all elements of their operation and support better management of high-risk activities, ultimately reducing harm to those working on ports”.

“As a risk-based regulator, we focus on areas where there’s clear evidence of harm. Our goal is not just to respond to harm, but to work with others to prevent it from occurring in the first place,” says Ms Hewlett.

“We will continue our work, collaborating closely with the Port Health and Safety Leadership Group, to actively support the sector to take preventive actions and put in place strong safety controls, to support people who work on ports return home safe to their families.”

Over the last several months, Maritime NZ engaged widely with the port sector on how the designation could work well in practice and what it will mean for those working on the 13 major ports. Port profiles that show the coverage of Maritime NZ’s role on ports have been produced.

Ms Hewlett says that Maritime NZ has set up a dedicated HSWA team to implement the new designation and is building on existing frontline capability and expertise, including risk management and health and safety systems.

Maritime NZ and WorkSafe have solidified their partnership and commitment to improving safety on ports, with a Memorandum of Understanding in place that details how they will work together on ports after 1 July 2024.

WorkSafe New Zealand Chief Executive Steve Haszard says it makes sense to simplify processes for port workers with the transfer of regulator responsibilities to Maritime NZ.

“Port environments are high risk and there are clear health and safety benefits to having a single regulator on major ports. In practice this means most notifiable incidents will now go straight to Maritime NZ.

“WorkSafe will be focused on other high-risk sectors and will still have a presence on ports as we retain responsibility for major hazard facilities and managing authorisations and exemptions. Our role in the oversight of inland ports across Aotearoa and any activities under the Gas Act, Electricity Act, and Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act is unchanged.

“We will continue to work closely with Maritime NZ to support better work health and safety outcomes in New Zealand’s major ports."

Notes to editors

The designation extension was recommended by the Port Health and Safety Leadership Group in its Port Sector Insights Picture and Action Plan. This plan was developed based on feedback and data collected from workers and port businesses following the tragic deaths of two port workers in Lyttleton and Auckland in 2022.

Maritime NZ’s designation covers the port areas 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.

WorkSafe retains responsibility for regulating major hazard facilities on ports and for managing authorisations and exemptions under HSWA. WorkSafe will continue to regulate inland ports across New Zealand, and any activity explicitly named in legislation or regulations, such as in the Electricity and Gas acts (1992). In performing its regulatory role on major ports, Maritime NZ will inform WorkSafe of any issues with Authorisations and Exemptions it becomes aware of.

Follow us News feed

Call the MNZ media line