ITF urges health and safety focus as NZ port operator found responsible for dock death

The International Transport Workers’ Federation is reiterating the need for stringent health and safety measures in ports after an operator in New Zealand was found responsible for a waterside workers death.

A Wellington court ruled in January 2015 that stevedoring company CentrePort was to blame for the death of Mark Samoa who was a member of the ITF-affiliated Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ).

47-year-old Samoa, a father of three, was fatally injured when he was crushed between a forklift and cargo in January 2013 while carrying out a warehouse packing operation.

The judge found that “CentrePort failed to take all practical steps to ensure the safety of Mr Samoa while at work.”

At the time of the tragedy the ITF sent condolences to the family and Mr Samoa’s comrades at MUNZ, and president Paddy Crumlin said that the tragic death only ‘hardened the resolve’ of the ITF family to ‘make sure every maritime worker comes home safely.’ View the full article.

Speaking following the verdict Crumlin said: “Ports are among the most dangerous work environments in the world. That’s why we continue to advocate the need for management to engage with unions to ensure the best possible health and safety conditions for the workforce.

“This is a tough lesson to swallow but we hope it will act as a reminder to operators that they have a commitment to protect their workers and if they shirk that commitment they will be held accountable.”

Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Joe Fleetwood commented that good work safety measures were now in place at CentrePort but added it was a pity there had to be a tragedy for those positive changes to come about.

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