Maritime industry inquiry into health and safety required to “shine a light on dark places”

New figures released to Radio New Zealand by the Government agency Maritime New Zealand show there have been 130 non-fatal health and safety incidents and three deaths aboard ships at port from 2011 to October 2014.

(Listen to Radio NZ interview with Joe Fleetwood here.)

The figures, combined with those of Worksafe which were released last year, show an unacceptable level of harm in the industry, says Maritime Union National Secretary Joe Fleetwood.

Mr Fleetwood says national initiatives towards port health and safety were long overdue, but input needed to be widened out beyond employers.

A full and independent investigation into industry health and safety was required to “shine a light on dark places.”

“To be effective, the relevant Government agencies Worksafe and Maritime New Zealand must be involved, and the workers themselves must be represented by their Union.”

The maritime workers on the wharves and ships must have a voice because it is their lives and wellbeing at risk, he says.

Mr Fleetwood says the Union has long held the view the casualization of the industry had resulted in a decline in skills, safety and a career path for workers.

Long shifts and irregular shift work patterns were also a problem in parts of the industry.

Mr Fleetwood says the contracting out of labour and casualization was being used by some port companies to neglect their duty of care towards workers.

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