Port decisions still pending

NO decision has yet been made on whether Britain's biggest port will face prosecution over the death of a worker, who fell from a highrise quayside crane.

By Richard Cornwell

NO decision has yet been made on whether Britain's biggest port will face prosecution over the death of a worker, who fell from a highrise quayside crane.

Officials at the Health and Safety Executive today said their investigations were not yet complete and would not be for a while yet.

The biggest obstacle to concluding their inquiry and deciding whether a court case should be brought is that a full inquest has still not been held – eight months after the incident at Felixstowe.

Trainee portworker Dennis Burman, 51, plunged 120ft from the top of one of the cranes in June last year while on a safety exercise.

Father-of-two Mr Burman, of The Poplars, Brantham, was being shown from the top of the crane the dangers of operating the enormous piece of equipment and the "blind spots" where the driver could not see people on the ground.

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A spokeswoman for the HSE said: "We are waiting for the date of the inquest, which we are expecting soon.

"Until that part of the process is concluded and we see what comes out of that hearing we will not be in a position to decide on a prosecution or not."

Mr Burman, who left a widow Janice, a daughter Keri, 12, and son Ross, 16, was being trained to work on the roll-on roll-off berths at the port.

He was undergoing basic shipworker training of 15 days, including three days dedicated to safety, plus a further six working days' training for his ro-ro duties.

After the accident, HSE inspectors issued notices stopping more than one man at a time being on the quayside cranes, just the crane driver.

The prohibition notices were placed on five of the high-rise gantry cranes, but port officials extended the new rules to all 25 ship-to-shore cranes at the terminal to prevent confusion.

The port has been also carrying out its own internal review of safety procedures to see if any more can be done to minimise risk and avoid accidents.

The port says safety is a top priority at the terminal and more than £2 million is spent every year on safety and training.

WEBLINK: www.portoffelixstowe.co.uk

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