Shipping industry ‘shaken’ after second port death in a week

The shipping industry has been ‘shaken’ after two port workers died in separate incidents less than a week apart.

This morning, a Lyttelton port worker died while coal was being loaded onto the ETG Aquarius vessel at Cashin Quay, the acting managing director of Lyttelton Port Company confirmed to the Herald.

“Unfortunately one LPC staff member died while the ship was loaded with coal for export,” said Kirstie Gardener.

Maritime Union of New Zealand national secretary Craig Harrison said the death had hit workers in the industry hard.

“The death of a worker at the Port of Lyttelton is the tragic death of another worker and has shaken the shipping industry,” he said.

Last Tuesday, Ōtara resident Atiroa Tuaiti died after suffering a “fall from a height” while working on a Singaporean container ship moored in Auckland ports.

The Cook Islands-born stevedore had a baby boy just a few months old and his own father, Atiroa Snr Tuaiti, was working locally at the port at the time of the accident.

Following the accident, port and shipping industry unions called for the introduction of national stevedoring standards to address the “health and safety crisis in New Zealand ports”.

Harrison said they will continue to campaign “hard” after today’s death.

“These fatalities and serious injuries in the port industry should not be happening, and the controls, processes and culture must be set by national standards,” Harrison said.

Three unions in the sector wrote jointly to the Minister of Labor Relations and Safety.

Maritime New Zealand investigators were on the scene this morning.

Rail and Sea Transport General Secretary Wayne Butson said last week that investigations into the factors that have caused so many deaths and injuries in the stevedoring industry must take place.

Butson said such inquiries should include the shipping industry, government and unions.

“We would expect issues such as hours of work, work schedules, productivity pressures, training, fatigue, equipment, processes and PCBU responsibilities to be reviewed,” a- he declared.

“From this process, we expect that national standards for port health and safety stevedoring operations will be developed and introduced at an urgent time.”

Following the Tuaiti accident, Butson said it was only a matter of time before another worker’s life was taken.