Submission to Safe Work Australia on the National Stevedoring Code of Practice

We, the undersigned, call on Safe Work Australia to approve the National Stevedoring Code of Practice. This code of practice is the best opportunity in a generation to save lives and improve safety on the waterfront.

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The death and injury in this industry cannot continue. The tragic death of father of two Greg Fitzgibbon, killed in Newcastle recently, reminds us how important this is. Please conclude this process and approve the code as soon as possible.

We support the MUA’s submission to Safe Work Australia, which calls for:

(1)   Approving the code as a code

It should not be reduced to guidance material. The Stevedoring industry needs more than just wide-open ‘pointers’ or ‘suggestions’. When this process began, many in the industry were calling for a regulation, and there is a strong case for it when you compare stevedoring to similar industries like mining or building and construction. As a compromise, all stakeholders accepted that it would be a code. Now, at the end of a long process, a small number of vested interests are seeking to downgrade the code to guidance material. This is not good enough.

(2)   Preserve the hatchman

Hatchmen, or cargo space look-outs, are a vital part of safety on the waterfront. Hatchmen provide an extra pair of eyes to identify and eliminate hazards not visible to workers in the hold or the crane operator. The provisions concerning hatchmen cannot be watered down. The code must reflect the provisions of Marine Order 32 as a whole.

(3)   The code must cover stevedoring activities on board ships

Business lobby group ACCI want to exclude the code from applying to stevedoring activities on board ships. In Australia, the Marine Safety regulator AMSA covers the technical standards of cranes and ships, while the state regulators regulate the systems of work for onshore workers when they are working on board ships in port. It is an area of concurrent jurisdiction. The code should make this clear. We believe the crane code of practice must apply to ship’s cranes because the code deals with systems of work.

(4)   Detailed guidance about training

Better skills and training are an important way to improve safety on the waterfront. This is common sense.

(5)   Keep the mooring provisions in the code

Mooring is an activity performed by many stevedoring workers. If must not be removed from the code unless an alternate process is put in place to develop equivalent material covering mooring.

(6)   There is no need for a RIS

Industry representatives such as the Australian Logistics Council are trying to delay the implementation of the Code by arguing for a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS). There is no need for a RIS because the draft Code of Conduct merely clarifies existing laws