Port admits liability over docker death

A PORT company has admitted responsibility after a trainee docker was crushed and sent tumbling 140ft to his death from a crane platform.The Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company pleaded guilty before Ipswich magistrates yesterday after Dennis Burman, 51, died of multiple injuries following the incident on June 17 last year.

A PORT company has admitted responsibility after a trainee docker was crushed and sent tumbling 140ft to his death from a crane platform.

The Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company pleaded guilty before Ipswich magistrates yesterday after Dennis Burman, 51, died of multiple injuries following the incident on June 17 last year.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) alleged the firm had failed to ensure that he and other workers were not exposed to risks to their safety and therefore breached the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The case was committed to Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing.


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An inquest in March heard that the incident happened after a crane driver made an “error of judgement" in moving his cab.

Mr Burman, of The Poplars, Brantham, had left the cab and was attempting to cross a gangway to the crane's main structure when the machine began to move forward.

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The movement crushed Mr Burman between the barriers of the moving gangway attached to the cab and the fixed gangway of the crane and sent him falling from the structure on Felixstowe port's Trinity Terminal.

The hearing was told Mr Burman, had been working at the port for just three weeks and was on an induction course, which involved seeing how the ship-to- shore cranes worked.

HSE inspector David Gregory said at the inquest that the accident was caused by the driver's human error, a lack of strict procedures to ensure safety and a lack of equipment that would stop the cab moving if the mechanical gate between the two gangways was opened.

Senior safety officials told the inquest there were procedures for safe changeovers for drivers but none for trainees.

Jeffrey Hurst, chief fire and safety manager at the port, said there had been more than a million such crossings at the port in the last 16 years without an accident. The jury at the inquest, held by Greater Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean, returned a verdict of accidental death.

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