A company has been fined $449,500 and ordered to pay reparation of $64,800 after a vessel rated to carry five tons was overloaded by an additional 23 tons.

The vessel sank in fine weather because of the overloading and the four crew were lucky to be rescued alive.

The Master of the vessel was unaware of the five ton limit and neither was the owner of the company.  The vessel’s Master had also not seen the vessel’s “stability book” which sets out safety information for the vessel and the limit of cargo.  The owner of the vessel was aware of the book, but had not read it.

Both the company and the Master failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the crew.  The owner and Master were each convicted of three charges under the Health & Safety legislation and the company was in addition guilty of two further charges under maritime law.

Everyone involved in running a workplace must be aware of the hazards and take all reasonable practical steps to eliminate those hazards.  This includes reading safety manuals and making other staff aware those and following the restrictions set out in those manuals.

Alan Knowsley
Health & Safety Lawyer