Former Port of Auckland CEO Faces Trial Over Workplace Fatality

The trial against former Port of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson commenced last week following the workplace fatality of a stevedore at the Port back in 2020.

Gibson faces two charges from Maritime New Zealand (“MNZ”) for failures to comply with duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (“the Act”). The Act, amongst other matters, places a duty of due diligence onto senior management as Officers of the PCBU (Person conducting a business or undertaking), including, as in this case, an organisation’s CEO.

Maritime New Zealand claims there were systemic deficiencies under Gibson's watch, with him failing to properly monitor health and safety risks following previous health and safety incidents and prosecutions.

Ports of Auckland

Image sourced from Ports of Auckland Media Gallery.

This raises the question of direct liability and whether Gibson ultimately fulfilled his duty as a senior executive. MNZ further claimed that the workers' death was due to the cumulative actions of various workers and that Gibson failed his due diligence duty by not taking practicable measures to eliminate or mitigate critical risks.

If convicted, Gibson could be fined up to $400,000.

The judge-alone trial, at Auckland District Court, will continue over the coming weeks. The decision and its potential effects will be closely watched by many.

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