NEW ZEALAND stevedoring company C3, a part of Linx Cargo Care Group, has been fined NZ$90,000 for dropping an excavator overboard from a log carrier in 2018 at CentrePort in Wellington.

C3 was also ordered to pay costs of NZ$20,000 for safety failings that caused the incident. 

The company had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of breaching its duties under the New Zealand Health and Safety Work Act 2015 and was sentenced on 4 February this year at the Wellington District Court.

The 2018 incident at Wellington’s CentrePort followed a similar scenario with another excavator at Northport in Whangarei less than a year earlier.

Nobody was injured in the 2017 incident; however, five workers had been in the drop zone moments before the excavator fell from the crane. C3 received a NZ$240,000 fine. 

Maritime New Zealand central compliance manager Blair Simmons said the most recent incident was particularly disappointing.

“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” he said.

The Maritime New Zealand investigation identified several factors contributing to the incident.

For instance, the company’s standard operating procedure for lifting heavy machinery was not developed or reviewed by a qualified engineer.

And, according to the investigation, C3’s lifting technique was poor and was no longer used by other New Zealand stevedoring companies.

The investigation found workers were not properly trained in the procedure, and the lifting lugs fixed to the excavator were not certified.

C3 also did not have a system in place for regularly testing and monitoring and testing workers’ hearing and vision to ensure they were fit to operate cranes and other machinery.

Mr Simmons said the sentencing highlights the importance of staying up do date with industry best practice and having strong training and health safety systems in place.

“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,” he said.

C3 was charged under section 49 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 for a failure to comply with duties under sections 36(1), 36(2), 36(3).

Linx Cargo Care Group declined to comment on the matter.