Auckland’s council-owned company Port of Auckland Limited (POAL) has been fined half a million New Zealand dollars ($345k) after pleading guilty to two charges relating to the tragic death of stevedore Pala’amo Kalati, on 30 August 2020.
Stevedore Kalati was fatally injured by a falling container while unloading a ship.
This led to a comprehensive investigation by Maritime NZ, the national regulatory agency for maritime safety.
The Auckland District Court fined the Port NZ$561k ($345k) and ordered it to pay NZ$20k ($12k) in restitution to another worker hurt in the incident, as well as NZ$90k ($55k) in expenses to Maritime NZ.
According to the Minister of Transport in New Zealand, Michael Wood: “over the past 10 years, there’s been 18 deaths on our ports”.
The fine was brought down from NZ$850k ($523k) to NZ$560k ($345k) due to the Port’s compliance with the investigation.
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Former CEO of Auckland Port, Tony Gibson, pleaded not guilty to two charges relating to the case in 2021, and is set to face a court appearance in 2024.
During the incident, Kalati and a colleague were onboard the MV Constantinos P unloading cargo.
A crane was operating beside the two men, pulling two containers off the ship when a third was unintentionally hoisted. Kalati was fatally injured when the third container separated and dropped onto the ship, crushing him.
Kirstie Hewlett, Maritime NZ Director, noted that POAL’s inadequacies in stevedore safety contributed to the accident.
Hewlett said: “Those failures were long-standing and systemic, putting many stevedores at risk for an extended period of time”.
“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” added Hewlett.