Port environments can be loud and busy places. Workers and all other persons engaged in, or in the vicinity of port operations need to be aware of health and safety risks present while carrying out their work.

Ports designation changes

Work is underway to transfer health and safety regulatory responsibility on New Zealand’s major ports from WorkSafe to Maritime New Zealand.

From 1 July 2024, Maritime NZ will be the responsible health and safety regulator on the 13 major ports:

  • Northport
  • Port of Auckland
  • Port of Tauranga
  • Eastland Port
  • Port Taranaki
  • Port of Napier
  • Centre Port Wellington
  • Port Nelson
  • Port Marlborough
  • Lyttelton Port
  • PrimePort Timaru
  • Port Otago, and 
  • South Port.

The changes mean that from 1 July, most incidents that take place on ports – with some exceptions outlined below – will be reported to Maritime NZ. Its designation will include:

  • work on board ships and ships as workplaces
  • work at major ports and ports used in connection with the Cook Strait inter-island ferries, and
  • major ports as workplaces, and ports used in connection with the Cook Strait inter-island ferries, as workplaces.

WorkSafe will retain responsibility for:

  • major hazard facilities on ports
  • granting, varying, and cancelling authorisations and exemptions under the Health and Safety at Work Act
  • oversight of inland ports across New Zealand, and
  • the Gas Act, Electricity Act, and Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.

Maritime NZ has developed port profiles that identify the physical scope of its designation in ports from 1 July.

View the port profiles – Maritime NZ(external link)

Ports Tool

The Ports Tool is a practical, interactive online tool, created to improve health and safety in the ports sector, particularly identifying and managing critical risks.

The tool was developed in collaboration with WorkSafe New Zealand, ACC, the Ports Industry Association, and New Zealand Ports.

Port environments are complex and high-risk operations. The virtual port in the Ports Tool represents key zones that many New Zealand ports have – it is not based on one particular port operation. These key zones highlight critical risks to workers in this industry.

Ports tool(external link)

Port sector plan for improving safety on New Zealand’s ports

The Port Health and Safety Leadership Group – made up of unions, ports, and stevedoring companies; the Port Industry Association; Maritime NZ; and WorkSafe – has released its advice to the Minister of Transport, a multi-year Port Sector Insights Picture and Action Plan to make ports safer.

This follows the tragic deaths of two port workers in 2022, after which the Minister of Transport asked the Port Health and Safety Leadership Group for advice to address health and safety on ports.

The plan pulls together information from fatalities, injuries, incidents, near-misses, regulatory notifications, investigations and assessments, worker surveys, and worker interviews and workshops to build a picture of what drives serious harm on ports – who it is happening to, and why. It lays out six key interventions where changes can have a real impact:

  • Managing the risk of fatigue
  • Enhancing regulatory arrangements (through extending Maritime NZ’s regulatory mandate on health and safety to the port gate)
  • Minimum safety standards around loading and unloading of cargo
  • Workforce sustainability and training
  • Incident reporting and culture
  • Better ways of sharing information amongst companies and regulators.

Read the Ports Sector Insight Picture and Action Plan on the Maritime NZ website(external link)

Code of practice for health and safety in port operations (2004)

This joint code of practice with Maritime New Zealand is no longer available on this webpage.

A PDF copy can be provided on request by emailing the Guidance and Education Development team

Where to go for more information