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Stevedoring Firm Settles 2017 Injury Case With Maritime NZ

maritime nz ladder
The victim fell from the top of the steel ladder, top center, onto the dock below (Maritime NZ)

By The Maritime Executive 10-22-2020 08:43:52

Maritime New Zealand has reached a settlement with stevedoring company ISO over a serious accident at the port of Tauranga in late 2017. 

On December 19, 2017, the log carrier Pakhoi was loading at the port of Tauranga, New Zealand. At about 1910 hours, the stevedoring team began to disembark the ship. One of the workers, who had been operating an excavator on board, began to climb down a ladder that was affixed to a stanchion on deck. The stanchion had a handrail at its top, and the handrail broke free as he stepped onto the ladder. He fell off the ladder and onto the concrete dock, a distance of about 25 feet. 

The worker sustained serious injuries, including internal bleeding, broken bones, fractured vertebrae and nerve damage. He survived with the aid of extensive medical care, but his recovery "has been extremely difficult," according to Maritime NZ. 

Documentation on board the ship showed that the handrail had been damaged in Port Kandla, India several months prior and had been repaired. Maritime NZ determined that the repair work had been done poorly. 

This week, the agency announced that it has accepted a $280,000 settlement agreement (enforceable undertaking) with ISO in connection with the accident. It had previously filed charges against ISO under the country's Health and Safety at Work Act; Maritime NZ's central region compliance manager, Michael-Paul Abbott, said that EUs are legally enforceable agreements that can be used as an alternative to prosecution and are not an easy option.

“We took into account the significant commitment made by ISO to raising health and safety standards in the industry and the fact that the company had committed to provide ongoing support for the injured worker and his family," said Abbott in a statement. “The money it is committing to spend is an investment in safety that will help stevedores in ports around the country.”

In July, ship operator China Navigation Co. Pte. Ltd. was fined a total of $35,000 in connection with the accident. "Shipping companies and other employers will be held to account if they operate a ship in a way that risks injuring or endangering workers and other people in New Zealand," Abbott said at the time.