Tragic Work Death Highlights Urgent Need For Safety Laws

As the family of dock worker Brad Gray mourn, co-workers and the Maritime Union of Australia are demanding overdue action to prevent a repeat of the fatality

Brad was tragically killed on Saturday just before
3pm in an horrific workplace injury while working the vessel the Pacific Explorer for the POAGS stevedoring group. He was working in the gangway and struck by a forklift carrying a dunnage (waste)

“Our thoughts are with Brad’s family for what has been a senseless waste of life and we will be offering the family every assistance. This is an absolutely unnecessary death that shouldn't and wouldn't happen if there was a proper safety code of practice on our wharves”, said MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin.

The workplace at the Brisbane dock has been brought to a halt until Monday morning (today) when the union will again visit the workplace to deal with the obvious problems relating to safety operations within the complex.

“For the past two years we have been working for nationally coordinated regulation to underpin waterfront safety but now call for the urgent intervention by Safe Work Australia to review the package of Commonwealth and State/NT law and practice to achieve a national approach to stevedoring OH&S”, Crumlin said.

“Brad’s death will mark a stepping up of the campaign to see safety at last taken seriously. This is the fourth fatality in little over three and a half years and the fifth since June 2003”, he said.

“The stevedoring companies have not adequately responded as an industry to the previous deaths and serious injuries. They’ve pushed for self regulation rather than prescriptive legislation but have not shown leadership in applying the Safe Work Australia guidance material and the new performance-based approaches to improving safety (which require companies to address hazards and risks)”, said the MUA’s assistant national secretary Warren Smith.

“The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and State and Northern Territory OH&S agencies have failed to act in a coordinated way to improve waterfront safety given the dual jurisdictional responsibility.

“AMSA has also been slow in finalising revisions to cargo handling regulations (Marine Order 32) and in settling on Memorandums of Understanding between AMSA and State and Territory OH&S agencies, and in rolling out an awareness campaign”, said Smith.

Recent waterfront workplace fatalities include:

  • Jeff Grey, Appleton Dock, Melbourne, June 03
  • Dean Robinson, Port Adelaide, June 2006
  • Peter Ross, Appleton Dock, January 2007
  • Bob Cumberlidge, Westernport, March 2007

“The union will be monitoring work practices and campaigning to clean up the waterfront of unsafe work practices”, said Mr Smith.

Media Contact: Warren Smith 0400 368945

Michael Meagher: 0410 482367