FOLLOWING the deaths of two port workers in Lyttleton and Auckland in 2022, Maritime NZ has become the primary health and safety regulator for New Zealand’s 13 major ports.

A strengthened partnership between Maritime NZ and WorkSafe has solidified their commitment to improving safety on ports, with a Memorandum of Understanding in place that details how they will work together on ports after 1 July.

WorkSafe New Zealand Chief Executive Steve Haszard said it made sense to simplify processes for port workers with the transfer of regulator responsibilities to Maritime NZ.

Maritime NZ Chief Executive Kirstie Hewlett said the extension of Maritime NZ’s Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) designation represents a significant opportunity for the regulator and those operating on ports to enhance safety and prevent harm for port workers.

“Having one primary regulator on ports, as recommended by the Port Health and Safety Leadership Group, will enable better engagement with many of the businesses on ports around all elements of their operation and support better management of high-risk activities, ultimately reducing harm to those working on ports,” Ms Hewlett said.

“As a risk-based regulator, we focus on areas where there’s clear evidence of harm. Our goal is not just to respond to harm, but to work with others to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

“We will continue our work, collaborating closely the Port Health and Safety Leadership Group, to actively support the sector to take preventive actions and put in place strong safety controls, to support people who work on ports return home safe to their families.”

A dedicated HSWA team has been established by Maritime NZ to implement the new designation and build on existing frontline capability and expertise, including risk management and health and safety systems.

“Port environments are high risk and there are clear health and safety benefits to having a single regulator on major ports. In practice this means most notifiable incidents will now go straight to Maritime NZ.

“WorkSafe will be focused on other high-risk sectors and will still have a presence on ports as we retain responsibility for major hazard facilities and managing authorisations and exemptions. Our role in the oversight of inland ports across Aotearoa and any activities under the Gas Act, Electricity Act, and Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act is unchanged.

“We will continue to work closely with Maritime NZ to support better work health and safety outcomes in New Zealand’s major ports.”