1 Dec 2023

Port of Auckland fined more than $500k after stevedore killed by falling container

5:57 pm on 1 December 2023
Ports of Auckland

Ports of Auckland pleaded guilty to two charges over the death of a stevedore who was killed by a falling container (file picture). Photo: RNZ / Kymberlee Fernandes

Port of Auckland has been fined more than half a million dollars after pleading guilty to two charges over the death of stevedore Pala'amo Kalati, who was killed by a falling container in August 2020.

The charges were filed by Maritime NZ which undertook a comprehensive investigation following Kalati's death.

The company was ordered to pay a fine of $561,000, with a further $90,000 in costs going to Maritime New Zealand.

The court accepted a voluntary reparation Port of Auckland made to the Kalati family as appropriate and did not award any additional reparation to them, but did award $20,000 for emotional harm to the other worker who was impacted.

In a statement, Maritime NZ director Kirstie Hewlett said his death was a manifestation of the risk caused and contributed to by Port of Auckland's failures around stevedore safety.

"Those failures were long standing and systemic, putting many stevedores at risk for an extended period of time," Hewlett said.

There was lessened oversight around the type of work he was doing due to changes that were made around the time of the incident because of the Covid-19 pandemic, she said.

Kalati and a colleague had been working on board as lashers discharging containers from a ship, a crane was adjacent to the men, it was lifting pairs of containers off the vessel when a third container was accidentally lifted as well.

The third container then fell and killed Kalati.

"While nothing can bring Mr Kalati back to his family or change the impact on his co-worker, who was also present. This tragic incident as well as two other fatal incidents in April 2022, highlighted the need to review and make changes to health and safety on New Zealand ports," Hewlett said.

"It is good to see Ports of Auckland Limited take responsibility for its actions and pleading guilty."

She said significant work has been done over the past 20 months to reduce harm on New Zealand's ports with the aim of achieving a safety-first approach to operations.

"Port workers need to be safe at work," Hewlett said.

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