Workplace death 'one of those sad occurrences'

A 47-year-old father of three who died early today after being caught between a forklift and cargo in a warehouse at CentrePort in Wellington was indoors only because of bad weather.

Mike Clark from the Maritime Union said the man was working inside because rain had forced the team from loading cargo on a ship outside.

"It's one of those sad occurrences."

Mr Clark said the forklift driver was distraught and had to be sedated overnight.

"It's devastating for him and his family. We'll be working closely with the company in forms of grief counselling and trying to get to the bottom of exactly what happened."

The man who died had worked at the port for nine years and was part of a small team of permanent staff, Mr Clark said.

"When it's one of your own it's a very difficult time."

The site will be blessed tomorrow before workers return to finish loading the vessels.

Mr Clark said the union would work with the company on systems to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Nobody at CentrePort was available for comment.

The Government's labour group, police and CentrePort are launching separate investigations into the death.

Other incidents at CentrePort:

* May 18, 2012: An argon gas container leaked when it was damaged by another container being loaded. Emergency services rushed to the port as the gas could be absorbed into the body by inhalation, and was a serious suffocation risk in confined areas.

* March 31, 2011: A shipping container, with a car inside, exploded while being fumigated. There was nothing suspicious about the blast and nobody was injured.

* May 20, 2003: A worker was critically injured when his leg was crushed by a shipping container. The man, an employee of Centreport subsidiary Central Stevedoring, was giving instructions to a crane operator on board the Pacific Quest at Aotea Quay when he was struck by the container.


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