Sanford fined for ‘preventable’ death of crew member
JOHN BISSET / Stuff
The San Granite pictured at Timaru Harbor on November 14, 2018, the day Steffan Stewart was found fatally injured.
Sanford Limited was fined $ 375,000 and paid $ 121,860 in repairs and $ 35,000 in costs to the family of a crew member who died on one of its fishing boats, an incident according to Maritime New Zealand “totally avoidable”.
Steffan Antony Stewart, 26, of New Plymouth, died after becoming entangled in machinery on the factory fishing boat, the San Granit, on November 14, 2018.
Stewart had entered part of an automated freezer system to clear a blockage. When the system activated, he was caught and was fatally injured by moving parts of the system.
The San Granit was trawling 102 kilometers east of the Banks Peninsula and immediately returned to PrimePort Timaru after the incident.
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Maritime New Zealand had requested payment of up to $ 200,000 from Stewart’s family.
Sanford has pleaded guilty to a charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of exposing workers to a risk of death or serious injury.
In a reserved ruling on Thursday, Judge Tony Couch said that while Sanford had a written standard operating procedure (SOP) at the time of the incident, it was of little practical value because the company was not monitoring not in compliance when management was unaware or indifferent that procedures were not followed.
“Workers had developed their own workarounds to clear the blockages, including not calling designated staff as needed,” Justice Couch said.
“In addition, the cage around part of the system was not always locked. This meant workers could enter the caged area to clear a blockage without the system being turned off. ”
Justice Couch said the factory supervisor checked workers every hour.
“However, the plant supervisor during Mr. Stewart’s shift was unfamiliar with the automated freezer system and therefore was limited in his ability to monitor and provide the supervision necessary to keep workers safe. .
“They were also unaware of Sanford’s fatigue management policy – the San Granit plant operated 24/7 when the vessel was fishing.”
Judge Couch said that when Sanford purchased the San Granit in 2016, the ship had a “safety at sea report” written to identify the hazards on board and what could be done to correct them.
“The dangers of the automated freezing system have been identified as ‘high risk’.
“However, it wasn’t until Mr. Stewart’s death, two years after the report, that Sanford spent $ 450,000 to make critical changes, including introducing an automatic shutdown system and revising its SOPs. to remove blockages. “
On most trips, the foreman or plant manager had to review the SOP with the freezer man, but there was no record of that review kept by Sanford, Justice Couch said.
The Maritime NZ investigation found that Sanford could have protected machines in the automated freezer system, so that blockages could be cleared without exposing workers to moving parts, the SOP was poorly worded and confusing, and the monitoring and supervision of worker safety was inadequate.
“It is positive that all of these changes have now been made by Sanford,” said Pete Dwen, Maritime NZ head of investigations.
“However, it is essential that all employers carefully review machine protective equipment, processes, monitoring and supervision to avoid death or serious injury to learn these lessons.”
Maritime NZ attorney Tim Bain told Timaru District Court last month that Stewart’s death was “completely preventable.”