Ports and Logistics

NZ port fined over worker death

The family of port worker Bradley Fletcher will receive NZ$75,000 ($49,000) in court-ordered reparation from the Lyttelton Port Company, which has today also been fined NZ$63,000 over his death.

Fletcher was killed 12 months ago after the scissor lift he was using toppled over, while he was trying to jump-start a straddle carrier. He suffered fatal head and brain injuries as he fell from the carrier.

A WorkSafe New Zealand investigation denounced the port for its poor maintenance, a lack of training and inadequate systems for identifying faulty machinery and returning it to safe use.

WorkSafe’s general manager of high hazards and specialist services, Brett Murray, commented: “A proper hazard identification system would have highlighted the need to find a safer way to jump start the straddle carriers instead of using a scissor-lift to hoist Mr Fletcher and nearly 200 kilograms of batteries almost 10 metres into the air. In at least one other New Zealand port, a second straddle carrier is brought alongside for any jump-starting, minimising the risk of working at height.

“Proper cleaning, testing and maintenance of equipment such as scissor-lifts should be standard procedure. Any machinery or plant that might put people in harm’s way needs to be looked after – and staff need to be trained to use it safely.

“Brad Fletcher’s death could have been avoided if the port had an effective safety management system in place that identified key risk areas and ensured those risks were controlled. It is to be hoped that the lessons of this case can help prevent similar tragedies in the future.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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