Inspector accused of turning blind eye

Last updated 11:40 20/05/2014
Mark Samoa
MARK SAMOA: The CentrePort worker was crushed to death in January last year.

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A safety inspector has been accused of avoiding looking at the real reasons why a worker was crushed to death in a work accident on the Wellington waterfront.

Port company CentrePort has been charged with failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of Mark Samoa, 47.

It has pleaded not guilty at a hearing now in its second week at Wellington District Court.

Samoa was crushed when another CentrePort employee driving a forklift pushed together two paper pulp packs, each weighing more than four tonnes.

The forklift driver was not charged over the accident and no longer works for CentrePort.

CentrePort says the forklift driver broke several rules and procedures.

WorkSafe NZ inspector and assessment manager Rob Birse has been cross examined about the practicable steps he said CentrePort could have taken to ensure Samoa’s safety, including physically separating the tasks of forklift driver and the job Samoa was doing of pasting labels on the pulp packs.

CentrePort’s lawyer, Kristy McDonald, QC. asked Birse today if his investigation and the prosecution had avoided looking at the real reason for the accident, that an employee had made a number of dreadful mistakes.

Birse said he accepted that the forklift driver could have done more but there were also more controls CentrePort could have put in place.

When the driver could not see Samoa, and a toot on the forklift’s horn did not prompt Samoa to show himself, the driver should have stopped and looked for Samoa, the court was told.

The hearing is continuing.

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- The Dominion Post

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