Lyttelton Port Company safety 'on notice'

CRUSHED: A man was injured after a container fell crushing the cab of his forklift.
CRUSHED: A man was injured after a container fell crushing the cab of his forklift.

The Lyttelton Port Company (LPC) has been told to clean up its act following a workplace accident at its Woolston container depot.

The company has been issued with five WorkSafe New Zealand improvement notices relating to operational practices there.

A 21-year-old worker was seriously injured at the LPC's City depot in Chapmans Rd on January 4 this year.

The man suffered head injuries when a stacked container fell onto the cab of a forklift he was driving.

The container was believed to have come from a stack that was seven containers high.

WorkSafe NZ spokesman John Tulloch said the agency was still investigating the incident.

However, LPC had already been issued with improvement notices relating to ''stacking heights, container alignment and directional signage''.

''At the time [of the January 4 incident], WorkSafe NZ issued a prohibition notice prohibiting workers from putting more than five 12.2-metre containers into a new stack or more than four 6.1m containers into one stack. That prohibition notice remains in place,'' said Tulloch.

''WorkSafe NZ continues to work with LPC to ensure a safe work environment at the container depot,'' he said.

The forklift incident on January 4 followed transport company owner Bill Frost's death at Lyttelton Port's container terminal last year.

Frost, 58, of Coalgate, was pinned between a logging truck trailer and a forklift on the port's No 2 Wharf on November 27.

Tulloch said that incident was also still being investigated by WorkSafe NZ. In December, Lyttelton Stevedoring Services employee Warren Ritchie, 49, died after being struck on the head while unloading fertiliser from a ship moored at the port.

Maritime New Zealand is investigating that incident, rather than WorkSafe NZ, because it occurred on a ship.

Ritchie's nephew, Harley Ritchie, was also injured while working for a stevedoring company at Lyttelton Port on August 5 last year.

His left leg was crushed after a chain gave way while he was unloading steel beams onto the wharf.


Ritchie, 22, said his injury and his uncle's death had left him questioning the level of training port staff received.

"There's not enough training. I got put through a 45-minute course. The course was just a video. They are hiring people pretty young down there. I have worked with people who are 18 and 19. That is too young to know about life let alone working on a wharf," he said.

Ritchie was "shocked" to hear of the incident at the depot on January 4.

"It is pathetic. Something needs to be done pretty quick. It is getting out of hand," he said.

Lyttelton Port of Christchurch chief executive Peter Davie said health and safety was the No 1 priority at the board's meeting last week.

Several changes had been put in place since January 4, said Davie, from lowering the height of container stacks near the depot boundaries to "making sure stacks are well stacked".

LPC had also employed a health and safety manager to replace a manager who resigned about a year ago. The manager, an existing staff member, had been in his new role for about a month.

"He will not be bored. Health and safety never ends. We are making progress and we have just got to keep working on it. We are not ducking away from the need to improve."

The Press