A Lyttelton port worker died after being crushed by coal while loading a ship on Monday morning.

Peter Meecham / Stuff

A Lyttelton port worker died after being crushed by coal while loading a ship on Monday morning.

The Maritime Union of New Zealand said the shipping industry had been ‘shaken’ by the death of a port worker in Lyttelton, just a week after another port worker was killed in Auckland.

The man was crushed by coal as he loaded the ETG vessel Aquarius, moored at Cashin Quay, on Monday morning.

Lyttelton Port Company (LPC) acting chief executive Kirstie Gardener has confirmed that an employee died while the ship was being loaded with coal for export.

“I wish to express my deepest sadness and condolences to both our team member’s family and the rest of the LPC team. Our focus at this time is to support our staff and our team member’s family. LPC team in this tragic time.

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Three ambulances and two fire apparatus responded to the incident at Cashin Quay in Lyttelton, which was reported shortly before 9.30am.

A Thing The photographer said emergency crews were on board the ETG Aquarius where coal was loaded into one of the compartments.

The ship had arrived in port on April 22 and was from China, although it was listed as belonging to Liberia.

Martime New Zealand is investigating the death and police will conduct death inquests on behalf of the coroner, who will release his findings in due course.

Maritime Union of New Zealand national secretary Craig Harrison said the death has hit workers in the industry hard because it so soon follows the death of a young worker, Atiroa Tuaiti, in ports from Auckland on April 19.

Tuaiti was believed to have fallen while working on a container ship and it was the fourth fatality involving the port since 2017.

Harrison said port unions are demanding national standards in the port industry and will campaign to improve port health and safety.

“These fatalities and serious injuries in the port industry should not be happening, and the controls, processes and culture must be set by national standards.”

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions chairman Richard Wagstaff said Monday’s death was a “tragedy” and served as “further evidence” of the need for an investigation into port security in New Zealand.

“Every worker deserves to know that when they get to work in the morning, they will get home safely at the end of the day. Unfortunately, this is currently not the case in this industry, and urgent action is needed.

Lyttelton Port Company also suffered fatalities with three employees killed in 2014. The company was later ordered to pay $138,000 in fines.

A police statement said they would conduct inquests into the death on behalf of the coroner.

Peter Meecham / Stuff

A police statement said they would conduct inquests into the death on behalf of the coroner.