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Published: 2 Jun 2014
Dock workers have launched a fierce attack on industry bosses for trashing a proposed safety code just eight days after an employee was crushed to death on Melbourne's wharves.
From The Age
June 2, 2014
Toll Shipping worker Anthony Attard, 42, was helping load cargo on board a vessel docked at the Port of Melbourne on May 20, when he was run over by a trailer. Paramedics rushed to the waterfront but could not revive him.
The father-of-three's death followed a recent run of accidents seriously injuring other waterside workers and sparked renewed calls for the tougher safety laws to be introduced.
''When I started, he told me, 'Have eyes at the back of your head, and keep a look out','' said Mr Attard's brother, James, who worked with him at the port. ''And he was one of the most careful guys there.
''Working with heavy machinery every day, it's dangerous. Safety should be No. 1, no matter where you work.''
A stevedoring code of practice - intended to replace national guidance material - is being developed by Safe Work Australia through a working group of regulators, stevedoring companies and the union.
But the Australian Logistics Council this week criticised the draft code, saying it should ''not go ahead at all''.
The Maritime Union of Australia on Friday called the council's comments ''disgraceful'', showing ''just how little regard'' the stevedores industry had for worker safety.
''This month, we have seen yet another worker killed on our waterfront in what was another preventable accident,'' assistant union secretary Warren Smith said. ''His workforce were completely and totally traumatised … these people have had their hearts ripped out. And to have the logistics council come out a week after one of our mates has died on the job and want to reduce waterfront safety is just unacceptable and we are abhorred.''
Mr Smith said the fact that Mr Attard's employer, Toll Holdings, sits on the board of the Australian Logistics Council ''makes this call all the more disgusting''.
''Companies can say safety is the priority - they can put it on the sleeves of our shirts, on the bottom of their emails - but when push comes to shove, we know profits come before people.''
The maritime union, of which Mr Attard was a delegate, said national statistics showed the death rate per 100,000 workers was 14 times higher on the wharves than in any other Australian workforce, and more than double that of the army.
Safe Work Australia said the draft national stevedoring code aimed to strengthen regulations about managing hazards when loading and unloading cargo, stacking on the wharf, and receiving and delivering cargo within terminals to ''better address risk in the stevedoring industry''.
Australian Logistics Council managing director Michael Kilgariff said it was committed to improving safety across the supply chain, but the draft code ''misunderstood'' how the stevedoring industry worked in Australia. He said many of the issues were already covered by international marine orders, workplace health and safety laws, and other codes of practice.
''Fundamentally, in [the council's] view, the safe work practice was driven more by the requirements of some in the industry, rather than what was best for safety in industry.''
Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said every worker had the right to return home safely each day.
A Toll Group spokesman said an investigation into Mr Attard's death was under way.