Constant vigilance is the key to docks safety

January 31, 2012

Two workers died this weekend in Antwerp, killed by a bulldozer being lifted into or out of the hold of a bulker for unloading purposes. Police and the authorities are investigating. Ten days before that 47 year old longshoreman Steve Saggiani, was killed by a falling container in the Port of Long Beach, USA.

Sometimes it seems like a report comes in of the death of a docker almost every week– and you don’t have to go too far back to when they did come in that frequently or even every few days. The reason they don’t now is because of the long struggle fought by working men and women and their unions for safer workplaces.

It’s a struggle taken up by the wharfies, dockers, longshoremen – call them what you will – of the ITF dockers’ section. They recognise that these deaths and serious injuries are avoidable. Because accidents aren’t inevitable. With the right safety culture, the right management approach to safety, the right workforce approach to safety, and the right tools in the hands of employers and the workforce, they can be prevented. That’s why the dockers’ section has fought hard for safety, has gathered evidence and information, showing what works and what doesn’t, and has worked with employers to identify best practice and cement it into the daily working practices of ports worldwide. You can read about what together we’ve done and what together we plan to do here www.itfglobal.org/dockers/health.cfm

Every death is a death too many.  Every death is a failure of accident prevention. We must never forget that. If we ever did then the daily reports of docker deaths would soon start rolling in again.

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