Tasks should not be designed to be hard to complete safely, says TAIC

A New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) report into the causes of an accident which seriously injured an Interislander staff member has found that the service did not adequately assess the risk of its operations site.

In April 2021 a remote-control operator was caught between two rail wagons on passenger / roro ship Aratere (IMO 9174828), after trying to shunt them together. The two wagons were misaligned on the rail deck’s track and the staffer had failed to join them remotely. During the final attempt, which led to the injury, the operator moved between the two wagons to open the knuckle of the couplers by hand, but did not move back to the safe zone of the deck before operating the remote again to join them.

The TAIC found that the degree of track curvature on the starboard outer track on the Aratere made it difficult to couple wagons positioned on parts of the curve. The commission concluded the risk assessment of the area had not properly considered the difficulty of coupling two wagons which were positioned on a curved part of a track that way. Tasks like that should be designed so it was easy to get the job done safely, the TAIC found.

1998-built, New Zealand-flagged, 17,816 gt Aratere is owned and ISM managed by Kiwirail Ltd of Auckland, New Zealand. Commercial manager is Interislander of Wellington, New Zealand. It is entered with Shipowners’ Club on behalf of Kiwirail Ltd