6 Aug 2015

Lyttelton Port sentenced over worker's death

7:38 pm on 6 August 2015

The Lyttelton Port Company has been fined $63,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $75,000 for failing to ensure the safety of one of its employees who died while on the job.

LPC chair Trevor Burt addresses reporters outside court today.

Lyttelton Port chair Trevor Burt addresses reporters outside court today. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

Brad Fletcher died last August when the scissor-lift he was working on at the port toppled over.

The 40-year-old father-of-three was the third person to have died working at the port in the past two years.

In passing sentence in the Christchurch District Court today, Judge John Strettell said problems with the lift were known by employees but were not communicated to management.

He noted this fatal breakdown in communication had since been remedied by the port.

There was standing room only in court, where 50 friends and family of Mr Fletcher gathered.

The court heard emotional victim impact statements from a workmate of Mr Fletcher's and his wife and mother.

His wife, Anita Fletcher, said she had not been able to return to work since the incident and was now having to act as a mother and father to their children.

She described having suicidal thoughts as a result of Mr Fletcher's death.

A relative, Andrea Winder, said none of the workers, including Mr Fletcher, were properly trained on the machinery that killed him.

She said the accident should not have happened, and the company should not have received a discount on its fine due to its guilty plea.

Lyttelton Port Company chairperson Trevor Burt apologised to Mr Fletcher's family.

Outside court, Mr Burt said he was sorry and that changes had been implemented to ensure employees were kept safe at the port.

He said the company accepted full responsibility for what had happened and would support Mr Fletcher's family in any way it could.

'Systematic failures'

WorkSafe said there were a number of systemic failures at the Lyttelton Port Company that culminated in Mr Fletcher's death.

The regulator's general manager of high hazards and specialist services, Brett Murray, told Checkpoint Mr Fletcher's death could have been avoided.

"Poor maintenance, there was poor training, there was not proper cleaning and testing of machinery - I think any of these incidents involve a number of factors, that culminate in the incident itself."

Mr Murray said the regulator was working with ports around the country to lift the safety in risky environments.

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