Inquest Highlights Safety Lapses At Portsmouth Dock

An inquest jury has concluded that properly enforced safety procedures would have prevented the death of a dock worker crushed by a container.

Mieczyslaw ‘Mitch’ Siwak, 34, from Bognor Regis, was killed at Flathouse Quay, Portsmouth in August 2017.

Jurors were shown CCTV recordings of the 40ft (12m) container being moved on a specialist fork-lift truck just before the accident.

The fork-lift operator did not raise the container above eye level so did not see Mr Siwak in front of him, the court heard.

However, the jury was told Mr Siwak, who had just started a night shift, was outside of a “safe walking zone” and had not been carrying a radio to communicate with colleagues.

The fork-lift operator said he accepted it was unsafe to drive with his view blocked but said it was common practice and had never been criticised by the company.

The Health and Safety Executive told the inquest there was a “complete lack of supervision and control on night shifts” and practices were “routinely ignored”.

The inquest jury concluded that supervision was insufficient and safety procedures were not properly enforced but concluded Mr Siwak’s death was accidental and Coroner Lincoln Brookes said he was satisfied with changes put in place since Mr Siwak’s death.

My Professional Opinion

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Safe working practices, established through suitable and sufficient risk assessments are in place for everyone’s protection. These assessments and method statements should be produced in conjunction with, and co-operation of any employees who are likely to be affected by the operation or task being risk assessed. They should be freely available and reviewed at regular intervals or if there are any changes to the operation or task.

If you have any questions relating to this or any health and safety concerns, I’d be more than happy to have a discussion.

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Steve Kilburn
Steve Kilburn
I initially trained as an industrial chemist working in a variety of manufacturing environments eventually moving into quality management which grew to encompass environmental and occupational health and safety management systems. I hold a Masters Degree in Health and Safety law and Environmental Law and a Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Waste Management and I am a Graduate Level Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). In my spare time I enjoy reading, my favourite author is Stephen King, and listening to music, generally from the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
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