Fixing or putting in place interim controls for significant risks at the time they are identified would likely have prevented a visitor’s death at South Port New Zealand in November 2015, says WorkSafe New Zealand.

The victim drowned when he lost control of his vehicle and slid off a wharf which had not been properly cleaned. It was contaminated with a superphosphate fertiliser, known to be especially slippery when wet, after a vessel was loaded. Despite an initial sweep of the berth, the surface remained contaminated for two days.

A South Port New Zealand manager whose vehicle slid on the berth while driving at a reported 10 km/hour advised other managers that the area was slippery. The Port did not advise employees or other users of the risk nor did it isolate the affected area or erect hazard signs. Visitors to the port were not warned of the danger posed by the slippery surface.

“Our investigation found that South Port New Zealand did not fulfil their duty to protect workers and others from harm while at work. It lacked basic policies to set procedures for when things go wrong, such as what to do with contamination, and staff were not trained to identify and manage risk,” said WorkSafe Chief Inspector, Steve Kelly.

“These failings are systemic. This business must lift its game on health and safety by developing the policies, procedures and training that underpin good risk management,” added Mr Kelly.

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