South Port questions “systematic failings” finding

16 May 2017

South Port has taken issue with a WorkSafe New Zealand finding that “systematic failings” contributed to a port visitor drowning after he lost control of his vehicle and slid off a wharf in late 2015.

It is understood Morrell McKenzie’s vehicle slid on superphosphate fertiliser which had not been fully cleared following a cargo exchange. WorkSafe found the port did not take sufficient action to isolate the affected area nor to provide adequate warnings.

South Port chief executive Mark O’Connor restated his condolences immediately following the recent sentencing, at which the port was fined NZ$185,000, and he acknowledged the port had not adequately followed its own policies with regards to cordoning the berth.

However, while not wanting to minimise his port’s share of responsibility for the incident, Mr O’Connor did observe:

·         the material on the berth was in the process of being removed at the time of the incident

·         no work was scheduled to be undertaken in the affected area until after the material had been removed

·         South Port was not made aware that the deceased (and the party he was working for) intended to undertake an activity at an adjacent berth

·         the deceased diverted from a marked roadway (without authorised permission) to travel through the restricted access area on Berth 8 for reasons unknown

·         all South Port berth locations have a speed restriction of 15km/h whereas the Police Serious Crash Unit estimated the deceased’s speed was in a range of 48km/h to 68km/h

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