Port boosts safety budget

Lyttelton port has spent $200,000 to $300,000 bolstering its health and safety budget and is asking workers to be vigilant after two port deaths and a serious injury.

Port chief executive Peter Davie said LPC had paid for monitoring and operational improvements since the accidents.

On January 4 a 21-year-old fork hoist worker suffered head injuries when a stacked container fell on to the cab of a forklift.

LPC was issued with five WorkSafe New Zealand improvement notices relating to operational practices at its city depot in Chapmans Rd.

The improvement notices related to stacking heights, container alignment and directional signage.

The forklift work incident follows two deaths at the port late last year, of workers who were not employed by LPC but by companies working at the port.

The Rail and Maritime Transport Union has been critical of LPC's health and safety approach, saying it needs to work more closely with other companies based at or visiting the port.

"We've been doing a lot of [health and safety] work but we've got a lot more to do, and we're extending and working with other port users as well to make sure their systems are up to what we would expect in a port," Davie said yesterday.

The company's first-half net profit had been impacted by the extra spending, he said.

Last November 27, transport company owner Bill Frost, of Coalgate, died when he was pinned between a logging truck trailer and a forklift on the port's No 2 Wharf.

On December 21, Lyttelton Stevedoring Services employee Warren Ritchie died after being struck on the head while unloading fertiliser from a ship moored at the port.

Ritchie's nephew, Harley Ritchie, had his left leg crushed when a chain gave way while he was unloading steel beams onto the wharf in August last year. The 22-year-old said the company's assurances that health and safety were improving "sounds good", but throwing money at the problem was not enough.

He recalled being told a "few things" about safety and watching a 40-minute induction video before being put straight into work on the port.

Davie said there had been no further significant accidents at the port since January 4. All five city depot improvements, in relation to the forklift incident, had been actioned immediately. Investigations were continuing and the port was working closely with WorkSafe and its employees.

LPC was committed to a zero harm work environment. A safety audit of all operations was recently completed, and a new health and safety manager had filled a vacated position.

"[There's] a lot of work with staff across the port, what's generically called ‘the hearts and minds', making sure people are thinking about safety on a daily basis . . . we want them to be looking after themselves and their mates when they're working."

The port's normal operational space was cramped by repair work from the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes but it has already made adjustments to freight-handling practices. It is also working on land reclamation to give more space to container handling.

The Press