$30,000 fines and reparation after passenger injured on Auckland Jet boat

10 May 2019

Auckland Jet Boat Tours Limited has been fined a total of $25,000 and ordered to pay $5000 in reparation after admitting Illegal and unsafe maritime practices.

Director Julian Frank O’Neil has been convicted and ordered to carry out 275 hours of community work.

Auckland District Court indicated that a fine of $79,687.50 would have been appropriate on one charge but reduced this to $20,000 due to the company’s financial position. On a second charge the company was fined an additional $5000. Mr O’Neill was convicted and discharged on the basis of his financial position.

Maritime NZ Northern Regional Manager Neil Rowarth said the company had operated an uncertified jet boat and falsified its logbook, and a passenger had her collar bone broken in an accident on the boat. The incidents occurred in December 2016 and February 2017.

Auckland Jet Boat Tours and Mr O’Neill pleaded guilty to a total of five charges, two under Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) and three under the Maritime Transport Act. They were sentenced in the Auckland District Court on Monday, 6 May 2019.

Between 4 and 9 December 2016 Auckland Jet Boat Tours Ltd’s jetboat Livi Lightning was used without a certificate of survey for at least 12 trips on the Waitematā Harbour, carrying paying passengers. A certificate of survey is issued after a detailed safety inspection, and all vessels must have one to operate commercially in order to provide assurance of the vessel’s safety.

On 9 December 2016 maritime officers detained Livi Lightning and stopped it operating until it had been inspected and a new certificate was issued. They reviewed the vessel’s documents and carried out interviews. They found the logbook had been falsified to incorrectly state Livi Lightning had made only two training trips and two trips carrying passengers free of charge, when in fact it made numerous trips with fare-paying passengers.

Livi Lightning was subsequently inspected by a shipping surveyor and a new certificate of survey was issued on 27 January 2017.

On 26 February 2017 Livi Lightning was being used to provide tours on the harbour.

As the vessel did a planned spin a female passenger was thrown into the vessel’s side and her husband was thrown against her. The vessel’s Master was told the woman had hurt her shoulder.

The two passengers then changed places, another spin was carried out and the husband was also thrown into the side of the vessel causing severe bruising to his shoulder.

The Master then operated the vessel more moderately and returned to the Viaduct Marina.

The woman with the hurt shoulder sought medical attention and an x-ray showed her collar bone had been broken.

Maritime NZ has followed up with Auckland Jet Boats Tours LTD. to ensure they are operating safely. They were inspected on 22 February 2018 and again on 22 April 2018 to ensure the vessel is safe, and the vessel now meets the safety system requirements.

“They have reviewed safety procedures to ensure the safety management system is appropriate and addressed the risks. They have also reviewed Master training and passenger briefings. Padding has also been modified in the area on the vessel where the passenger broke their collar bone,” Mr Rowarth said.

Maritime NZ is the government agency responsible for compliance with HSWA in relation to work on ships in New Zealand waters and for compliance with the MTA.

HSWA puts responsibility for health and safety on all those involved in operating a business: employees, managers and directors. It places emphasis on directors’ personal responsibility for oversight of the business and includes much larger penalties than previous health and safety legislation.

Maritime NZ "Compliance Operating Model"

Maritime NZ’s compliance work focuses on supporting, encouraging and requiring people to do the right things to achieve safe, secure and clean outcomes in our maritime industry and environment. Our actions include providing information and education, targeted safety campaigns, audits, inspections, imposition of conditions on operations, investigations and prosecutions.

We will choose the most appropriate action for the issue involved – the ‘right tool at the right time’. The Compliance Operating Model guides those decisions.

Read about our Compliance Operating Model

This case involved breaches of important safety requirements, falsifying records in an attempt to hide some of those breaches, serious injury to one passenger, and risk to others.

Summary of 2017/18 statistics:

  • 1,035 notifications received and assessed
  • 461 audits of New Zealand maritime operators
  • 257 safety and security inspections of foreign ships
  • two national, targeted, health and safety inspection campaigns, one focusing on stevedores and the other on maritime operators with higher risk operations
  • 128 investigations
  • 18 prosecutions.

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