Thursday, November 10, 2011

Road Haulage Firm Mourns Loss of Driver at Docks

Union Incensed After Two Deaths in Three Days at Tilbury
Shipping News Feature

UK – Road haulage group Meachers Global Logistics have issued a statement extending their sympathy to the family of Peter Hunt, an agency driver, who was killed in an accident at Tilbury Docks in Essex whilst collecting a trailer load of paper. The Dock authorities have also added their condolences and emphasised their commitment to cooperating with police and Health and Safety (HSE) officials who are investigating the matter.

Mr Hunt, who was sixty eight, was killed just three days after the untimely death of a crane driver at the same port who perished when his crane toppled over. That sad occurrence has elicited a bitter attack on the authorities from the Unite union which says it has been excluded from any enquiry into the death of the man who was also one of their representatives. A Unite statement said no stone would be left unturned until full details of the accident were revealed and Andy Green from the union said:

“Our members are deeply shocked that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has not responded to calls from Unite representatives at the port to launch an investigation, and that the company has chosen not to conduct a joint investigation alongside the Unite safety representatives, as set out in the company's own health and safety policy.

"We are at a loss then to know why the HSE will not speak to us, its behaviour is nothing short of shameful. However, we have been touched by the kind words of condolence from dockworkers in every port throughout the UK. Our union will always fight for truth and justice and to help the loved ones left behind who have to bear the real burden of workplace deaths."

HSE representatives say the investigation was their department’s responsibility and the enquiry had been opened immediately following the death and would be conducted using normal procedures. This meant that union views would be canvassed as the investigation proceeds and the dock authorities would be interviewed in the same way.

The crane drivers death followed similar incidents in Liverpool and London over the past two years and Tilbury’s short sea container terminal was closed the next day as a mark of respect. The driver was working atop a 12 metre crane and was cut free of the wreckage by rescue crews assisted by an emergency helicopter.

Speaking on National Inspection Day, the day of Mr Hunt’s death, Unite's national officer for docks, Julia Long, called for health and safety action across all ports to reflect the dangers within the port industry saying:

"The government has set the ports as a 'low risk' industry. This tragic incident shows that the government needs to have a rethink on its position.”