Board and management fully support the report’s findings and are acting to address our shortcomings in safety processes and culture.
Ports of Auckland has received the final version of the safety review carried out by Construction Health and Safety New Zealand (CHASNZ), commissioned following two fatal accidents at the port since 2018.
Ports of Auckland Chair, Bill Osborne said “We are grateful to CHASNZ for the way they have conducted this report and for their findings. While I know that people who work at Ports of Auckland care deeply about safety and have worked hard over the years to improve it, the fact that we had two fatal accidents shows that we were not doing enough.
Sometimes it is hard to see your own problems clearly, so we are thankful for the opportunity to have an independent expert team look at our safety management systems and safety climate with fresh eyes and without prejudice – CHASNZ have done that well. They have provided us with a road map to a safer future at a time when change is needed. This is a unique opportunity, and we will grasp it with both hands.
There are many detailed recommendations in the report, some of which we are already working on and others which we will get started on as soon as practicable. However, there are two broad themes which stand out.
One is that we need to make improvements to our safety management systems and controls to ensure work is always carried out safely. The second is that this work will only be successful if we can transform our company culture to create a strong safety climate. As the report states, “A highly resilient control environment requires a strong H&S climate at its foundation.”
In this regard we must face a difficult truth: the relationship between the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) and Ports of Auckland has been a barrier to improving safety.
I would like to make it clear that the Board and management of Ports of Auckland accept this finding and acknowledge our role in this relationship. We are committed to working with the leadership and members of MUNZ, in partnership with the other unions and staff of Ports of Auckland, to create an organisational culture which supports strong, positive safety outcomes.
The report also identifies a need for an increased focus on safety from our senior management and people leaders. In particular the report says the chief executive needs to tackle the perception that productivity and profitability are more important than safety. We need to improve trust, communication, and engagement between executive management and frontline staff on health and safety, help change risky behaviours, and ensure the resources needed to make improvement are available.
We accept these points. The report sets out a clear roadmap which will be our guide as we work to fix these issues.
A port is a high-risk environment which can only be made safe when there are good processes and practices in place, which everyone in the company understands, supports, and enacts. Safety is everyone’s responsibility, which is why company culture, and the safety climate is so important. The Board and management accept our responsibility and are committed to making the changes that this report shows are needed to deliver a safe workplace. We will report regularly to our people, to Council and the public about our progress on the recommendations in this report.
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