17 Dec 2009

Port of Napier at fault in forklift death - coroner

5:41 pm on 17 December 2009

The Wellington coroner says he's surprised the Department of Labour didn't prosecute the Port of Napier following the death of a container forklift driver.

Repanga Taana, 49, was working a night shift at the port in March 2006.

He was driving a 74-tonne forklift with a fully laden container when part of the wharf near a repaired hole collapsed and the machine overturned and caught fire.

An inquest in July last year heard that Mr Taana was regarded as one of the port's best forklift drivers and had worked there for 14 years.

Coroner Ian Smith says Mr Taana's death was partly due to a confused workplace safety policy.

He says the death was preventable, and he's surprised the Department of Labour failed to carry out an in-depth investigation which could have led to the port company being prosecuted.