NZ Stevedoring Company Fined for Dropping an Excavator Over the Side

File image courtesy C3

Published Feb 9, 2022 9:01 PM by The Maritime Executive

A court in New Zealand has ordered a stevedoring company to pay fines and restitution totaling about $75,000 for dropping an excavator over the side of a log carrier during loading operations.

“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," said Maritime NZ central compliance manager Blair Simmons.

The stevedoring firm, C3 Limited, pleaded guilty to violations of New Zealand's Health and Safety at Work Act and was sentenced on February 4. 

In a statement, Maritime NZ said that it found that C3's lifting technique for picking up the excavator "has been identified as poor practice and is no longer being used by other stevedoring companies" in New Zealand. Further, the agency said that C3's workers were not properly trained to use this poor procedure; the lifting lugs for the excavator were not certified; and C3 had no system to ensure that its crane operators could hear and see well enough to perform their roles.

"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," said Simmons.

It is the second time in five years that C3 has been fined for dropping an excavator off a ship. In the previous incident in 2017, a 15-tonne machine came within "seconds" of killing five workers when it hit the wharf below, according to Maritime NZ. "The five workers had been in the drop zone moments before the excavator fell from the crane," said Maritime NZ compliance manager Neil Rowarth. After this serious near-miss, C3 paid a fine of $160,000. 

C3 has also received positive recognition from New Zealand safety authorities. The company safely unloaded the stricken log carrier Funing, which lost power and ran aground at the Port of Tauranga in July 2020, despite challenging and hazardous circumstances on board. For its contributions to the response, C3 took home the "best collaboration" award at the 2021 New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards.