Worker killed at Lyttelton Port

MYLES HUME AND ANNA PEARSON
Last updated 18:26 28/08/2014
Lyttelton Port scene investigation
Iain McGregor

INVESTIGATION: Police collect evidence at Lyttelton Port after a worker died.

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A Lyttelton Port worker has fallen to his death in a workplace accident today, police have confirmed.

Emergency services rushed to Gladstone Quay about 3.20pm when a scissor lift the 40-year-old was in toppled over, a police spokesman said.

Rail and Maritime Transport Union South Island organiser John Kerr said he was aware of a death.

"What I can say is everybody on that waterfront is going to be shocked and angered about this . . . any death at work is one too many and this is the third in 12 months on that waterfront, this is just wrong," he said.

Kerr believed the dead man was not an RMTU member, but a Maritime Union member.

"We will become involved, because once the investigation takes place we have got to look at why this happened."

Worksafe New Zealand confirmed they are investigating an incident at the Lyttelton Port, but would not comment further.

Police launched an investigation into the cause of the incident, and were speaking to the family of the man with the help of Victim Support.

Fire crews from Christchurch and Lyttelton were at the scene with police.

Police will not be making further comment tonight.

Lyttelton Maritime Union New Zealand  secretary Les Wells did not want to comment tonight.

THIRD DEATH IN A YEAR

In June a Press investigation revealed recent deaths and injuries at Lyttelton Port pointed to a lack of training and safety policies. Inexperienced workers worked back-to-back shifts and others were retiring early because of perceived risks.

In August last year port worker Harley Ritchie's leg was snapped in half when a steel beam fell on him.

In November transport company owner William ''Bill'' Frost died after being pinned between a logging truck trailer and a forklift.

The following month Harley Ritchie's uncle, Warren, was killed when he was struck by a crane grab while unloading urea in the hold of a Singaporean ship docked at Lyttelton.

His mother Helen Dungey said today's news brought December 21 flooding back.

‘‘It’s so awful. It’s a horrible thing. I really feel for the family,’’ Dungey said.

Dungey, who was also Frost’s friend, said there were simply "too many deaths".

The port was a ‘‘very, very dangerous’’ place to work, she said.

‘‘I don’t want any of my lot down there again. I don’t think they are training them enough and that’s all there is to it."

In January, a Lyttelton Port Company worker was left with head and spinal injuries after a container fell on top of the forklift he was driving.

In the last five years 10 people have been killed while working in ports, according to WorkSafe New Zealand figures.

Almost half of these were in 2013 and this year, but the statistics do not include those who died working on ships docked at a port.


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