Wharves Across Australia Stop To Honour Fallen Comrade

Workers on wharves across Australia will observe a minutes silence at 12 noon today (Friday February 26) in a mark of respect for Brad Gray who died in a workplace accident in Brisbane.

“Brad, 30, has been cut down in his prime and leaves a wife and baby. This was a senseless waste of life and we are helping the family in whatever way we can. His workmates are devastated and the minute silence gives workers everywhere the chance to show their sorrow and send a message to his family.

“Workers are also making a statement about an 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.

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

Step up in Safety campaign

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

“The Brisbane waterfront is tense following the death. Every workplace is different and without second guessing any formal inquiries, this sort of accident just shouldn’t happen if set safety protocols are put in place. We have to ensure that workplaces achieve productivity goals, but not at the expense of fundamental safety”, said the MUA’s assistant national secretary Warren Smith.

“For the past two years we have been working for nationally coordinated regulation to underpin waterfront safety and we are now calling for the Government to support a national safety code of practice for stevedoring and give it some legislative backbone”, said Smith.

“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 requires companies to address hazards and risks).”

“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 Orders 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 Fatalities

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