Several deaths and serious accidents at Ports of Auckland is raising serious concerns about the safety of workers and management of the company.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff today announced an independent review of health at safety at the ports company following the death of a worker by a container on board a ship on August 30.
The Herald understands the latest death at the port prompted a meeting last week where Goff and several councillors expressed concerns about management at the port.
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• Ports of Auckland tragedy: Maritime New Zealand leading investigation into worker's death
• Death at Ports of Auckland - worker killed, investigation underway
• Ports of Auckland 'absolutely devastated' after father-of-seven killed in container tragedy
As well as the death of father of seven Palaamo Kalati by a container on board a ship, Goff said the death of another worker and a serious injury in recent years are a serious concern to him and other councillors.
In August 2018, Laboom Midnight Dyer was killed when a straddle truck tipped over at the port. Months later a machinery operator suffered burns after a large fire broke out in a reach stacker.
In July this year, the port company was fined $424,000 after ocean swimmer Leslie Gelberger was involved in a tragic accident involving a Ports of Auckland pilot boat in 2017.
Judge Kevin Phillips said the death was not a factor in sentencing. Instead, the issue was over a "systemic failure" from continuous speeding breaches.
Goff said the independent review was needed to determine whether there is a pattern of failure in the health and safety measures at the port, which is 100 per cent owned by the council.
Labour councillor Shane Henderson said Ports of Auckland has the highest level of deaths and serious accidents of any port company in New Zealand.
"I want the review to root out any kind of systemic issues we might have. When we talk about health and safety we are talking about workplace culture. I want to see evidence it is there and is being followed appropriately.
"We expect when our loved ones go to work, we expect them to come home safely to their families," Henderson said.
Waitemata and Gulf councillor Pippa Coom said she understood the port had a long period with no fatalities and the review needed to look at all the factors at play creating an unsafe workplace in recent times.
"The management put in place the culture. That's what I want the investigation to uncover. There will, no doubt, be some recommendations around what needs to change," she said.
Ports of Auckland board chair Liz Coutts said: "The death of a stevedore late last month was devastating for his family, friends and workmates, and for the whole Ports of Auckland team.
"The wellbeing of our staff is paramount and POAL will co-operate fully with the independent review.
"The board has confirmed it is fully supportive and Ports of Auckland will co-operate with all aspects of the independent review," Coutts said.
Kalati's death is also being investigated by Maritime NZ rather than WorkSafe because the incident happened on board a ship.
The review's terms of reference are currently being finalised by Auckland Council, with the independent reviewer or panel to be appointed shortly by the Council. The costs for the review will be met by Ports of Auckland. The review is expected to be completed by the end of the year and will allow for stakeholder submissions.