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Supporting critical risk management in New Zealand's ports industry

Port environments are inherently complex and high risk operations. With the introduction of new health and safety legislation in April 2016, New Zealand ports asked us for clarification on some aspects of the law in the context of their work.

Within ports there are numerous businesses involved who have overlapping responsibilities for health and safety, and risks change daily, depending on the port activity (imports, exports, vessel arrivals and departures).

Port operations are 24/7 and workers are usually onsite day and night. Many of these workers are sub-contractors and knowledge and awareness of health and safety risk management varies.

This presented us with an opportunity to work with them to develop a 'ports' tool to support the ports sector with risk management.

The tool helps contextualise risks, and importantly enables consistent messaging around good practice risk management. Risk hotspots shown within each of the zones will pulse and open up to reveal further information – which will include dynamic content (such as video), plus relevant controls and guidance.


Before the new law was introduced, we met with a number of ports who wanted clarification about what the new law meant for them. A meeting with Tauranga, Auckland and Napier Ports in early 2016 provided detailed context for what the key issues were.

  • 2 port workers have died in the last year.
  • 12 people have been injured, some with life-changing consequences
    (refers to the number of incidents involving notifiable serious injury occuring at NZ ports reported to WorkSafe).

It was agreed we would work with Napier Port and develop an accessible, engaging and interactive tool that could support ports and their workers by clarifying these health and safety issues in context.

A number of co-lab workshops were held with Napier Port during 2016 and 2017. These workshops highlighted the unique complexities of each operational area such as 'log fumigation' or 'container terminal'. We needed to design an approach that did not overwhelm respective resources, yet ensured that agile momentum would be maintained within the project.

The Ports Tool will support managers to have conversations with workers about the most critical risks across the different areas of port operations.

Three connected layers:

  • Support inductions to the port: A bird's eye view interactive map of the port, highlighting the key zones which all contain their own unique risks.
  • Support individual operational areas: The port has been broken into seven zones (four additional zones will be developed in phase two). These zones are accessed from the bird's eye view (plus a secondary navigation) which provides a deep dive into each operation zone. Each zone contains six to seven hotspots which will pulse and indicate a risk. The hotspot can be clicked on and layers of information and content unfolds – describing the risk and controls, and linking to additional guidance.
  • Support workers: Managers/H&S Reps can use this tool to educate workers on the key risks in each zone. They can customise their own port content to aid this process. As a potential future phase we will look to trial beacon technology to dynamically push health and safety information into mobile portacoms within each operational area.

How it works

The tool is being developed using open-source technology including vector based animation. The application was built using the following standard file types:

  • HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, Jquery, MySQL, and XML for application development, and
  • GSAP, JavaScript, jQuery & CSS3 for vector animation.

The tool will be hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) using S3 bucket.

The Ports Tool will launch in May 2018 and is in current animation build.

The tool is intended to be accessible by all ports.

This initiative was created as part of the Better for Business collective.

Better for Business: 10 agencies — one vision

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