Death at Lyttelton Port prompts investigation

Lyttelton Port

The Lyttelton Port Company, New Zealand, has confirmed the death of an employee during loading operations.

The incident occurred aboard the vessel ETG Aquarius berthed at Cashin Quay on 25 April during coal loading operations.

Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison said that the incident is under investigation by Maritime New Zealand and the Union.

The staff involved have already had debrief session and are being called in for more in depth interviews starting 2 May. This is a procedure that has had good safety record in the past in Lyttelton according to the Maritime Union.

© Maritime Union of New Zealand via Twitter

The death at Lyttelton port is the second fatality at one of New Zealand’s ports in a week.

Atiroa Tuaiti, 26, died on 19 April while working on a container ship at Ports of Auckland.

National Secretary Harrison said that port unions are calling for national standards in the port industry and he would be campaigning hard to improve health and safety in ports.

“These deaths and serious injuries in the port industry should not be happening, and the controls and processes and culture need to be fixed through national standards,” Harrison said.

Harrison confirmed that the unions have been speaking with the Government, employers, and the Council of Trade Unions over the last few days and to demand a change following Lyttelton’s death.

In a joint statement, unions have expressed their unity and determination to prevent any more unnecessary deaths in New Zealand ports and have stated their willingness to work with the Government’s initiatives.

Following the incident at Lyttelton, Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson addressed the systemic issues in the industry including staffing levels, fatigue due to excessive hours and shift work, productivity pressures, and failures around training and a safety culture.

“Workers have a right to come home safely. These workers are carrying out essential work that our nation depends on. They have been failed by the system,” Butson said.

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