Sanford fined for death of crewmember in 2018

Published on
September 28, 2021
A pair of Sanford Limited work vessels on the water.

Auckland, New Zealand-based Sanford Limited has been fined NZD 375,000 (USD 263,000, EUR 225,000) and ordered to pay NZD 121,860 (USD 85,500, EUR 73,000) in reparations and NZD 35,000 (USD 24,500, EUR 21,000) in costs to the family of a crewmember who died while working on one of the company’s fishing vessels.

In a prepared statement, Sanford said it takes full responsibility for the tragedy that led to the death of the company’s employee, Steffan Stewart.

“Sanford accepts the decision by the judge in the Timaru District Court today in relation to the death of Steffan Stewart. We know that no legal decision and no amount of money will ever make up for the shock and trauma of the loss suffered by Steffan’s whanau,” the company said. “We are deeply sorry about what happened, and Sanford accepts responsibility for the tragedy. Since Steffan’s death, Sanford has undertaken a comprehensive refit of the [fishing vessel] San Granit and has made extensive changes to the machine guarding on board.”

According to Maritime New Zealand, Sanford pleaded guilty to a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act of exposing workers to the risk of death or serious injury.

The incident took place in November 2018, after Stewart was caught in machinery in the ship’s automated freezer system for processing fish.

 
Maritime NZ Investigations Manager Pete Dwen said the incident highlighted how employers need to consider machine guards for equipment to avoid deaths. Sanford spent NZD 450,000 (USD 316,000, EUR 270,000) to make changes – including introducing an automatic shutdown system and revising its standard operating procedure for clearing blockages, Dwen said.

The judge's decision came as the company announced it has appointed a new chief financial officer. Paul Alston, former CEO of Cavalier Corporation, will replace CFO Katherine Turner, who ends her tenure on 30 September.

“We are delighted to announce that Paul will be joining us as CFO,” Sanford CEO Peter Reidie said in a statement. “He is a highly experienced listed company executive who will bring great capability and leadership to Sanford. His background includes CEO and CFO roles at Cavalier Corporation and Turners and Growers, two significant New Zealand businesses.”

Alston will start in his new position in the middle of October.  

Photo courtesy of Sanford Limited

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