Eight mussel barges issued notices

Maritime New Zealand teamed up with Maritime Police to conduct health and safety inspections on 15 mussel barges in the Coromandel and Firth of Thames recently.

The patrol boarded 15 of the 18 barges operating in the area over three days as crews worked, with eight vessels issued Improvement Notices under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

These notices were for a range of issues including inadequate machine guarding, lack of facilities for crew, and failure to maintain an accident/incident register.

Four vessels also had Conditions imposed under the Maritime Transport Act 1994 for issues such as uncertified deck cranes and hydraulic oil leaks from deck machinery.

Maritime NZ Central Regional Compliance manager Pelin Davison says being able to inspect these vessels while at sea enabled Maritime Officers to check actual working conditions for crews.

“We were also able to remind skippers and crews about what is expected under HSWA – including the tougher penalties and new health and safety responsibilities for workers, as well as officers and Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking.

“Education is a large part of the work we do – along with compliance action where needed.  Crews seemed happy to have the opportunity to discuss working conditions and how they can be improved.”

The patrol was conducted with the assistance of the New Zealand Police Maritime Unit from Auckland, on-board the Deodar III, with local harbourmasters also taking part.

Recreational boaties were also spoken to – with checks done for the number of lifejackets on board, along with communication devices such as VHF radio, flares, rescue beacons and cellphones in waterproof bags.