Stevedore operations inspected for health and safety

27 October 2017
A bosun lost his life when the steel wire snapped that was securing his safety harness to this ship.
Maritime NZ © 2018

Maritime NZ is working closely with stevedoring companies to improve safety practices in the log loading industry, following an intensive health and safety inspection campaign earlier this year.

Maritime NZ Inspectors carried out 30 ship and head office inspections of five stevedore companies that load logs on to ships for export. Twenty-five of the inspections were on board foreign ships at 13 different ports throughout the country.

“Our discussions showed these companies understand that their stevedores work in a high risk sector, and they are keen to tighten safety practices wherever improvements are identified,” says Harry Hawthorn, the General Manager of Compliance.

Mr Hawthorn says Maritime NZ decided an inspection of stevedore operations was warranted after having to investigate 24 incidents in 12 months related to load failures from cranes on foreign-flagged ships.  

“The cranes on these overseas-owned ships are operated by New Zealand stevedores.  Multiple hatches are loaded concurrently, with an excavator for each hatch operated also by a local stevedore – moving the logs into the final position. The ships’ crews then take over to lash the logs down prior to sailing.”

As a result of the campaign, Maritime NZ is assisting the sector to check the competency and inspection standards used by surveyors of ships’ cranes, and that internal training for crane operators is up to NZQA unit standard level, says Mr Hawthorn.

The second phase of the campaign also involves improving awareness about the need for safety systems between PCBUs (Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking), he says, so there is a clear understanding between the ships’ crews and stevedoring companies about which safety system applies on each work site.

A further issue is that stevedores loading logs have been over-represented in ACC claims – especially in relation to musculoskeletal injuries, or repetitive strain injury.

Mr Hawthorn says good examples of managing this risk include rotating repetitive work activities, prohibiting manual hauling on heavy cables, taking regular breaks, and keeping hydrated.

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