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Tributes to loving family man

PUBLISHED: 19:03 18 June 2003 | UPDATED: 14:00 03 March 2010

TRIBUTES have today been paid to a loving family man who plunged 120ft to his death from the top of a crane while on a safety exercise.

Dennis Burman's devastated wife, Janice, was too upset to talk today but his brother-in-law, Peter Norris spoke on their behalf.

TRIBUTES have today been paid to a loving family man who plunged 120ft to his death from the top of a crane while on a safety exercise.

Dennis Burman's devastated wife, Janice, was too upset to talk today but his brother-in-law, Peter Norris spoke on their behalf.

He said that the 51-year-old from The Poplars in Brantham had only recently started at the Port of Felixstowe, when he was killed in the tragedy which happened at 11.40am yesterday.

Speaking from the Burman family home Mr Norris said that Mr Burman had recently been made redundant from ABT plastic designs Ltd, an Ipswich screen printing and design company where he had worked for 30 years.

Mr Norris said: "He had been looking for work and this was like a new lease of life for him."

Mr Burman leaves a wife, Janice and two children, Keri,12, and Ross, 16.

Mr Norris, who also lives in the Brantham area said: "He was a great family man.

"You can't prepare yourself for something like this. It is devastating.

"You get up one morning and everything is normal and then this happens."

Mr Norris said that Mr Burman had been enjoying his job and was a fit and healthy man.

He enjoyed playing football and was also a keen golfer.

Mr Burman died yesterday and he is understood to have been taken to the top of the gantry crane at Felixstowe to be shown the dangers of operating the enormous piece of equipment.

Today Health and Safety Executive inspectors were beginning their investigations into the accident, though their inquiries could take up to two years.

He is the eighth person to die in an accident at the port in the past 28 years.

After he fell from the gantry crane at Trinity Terminal yesterday lunchtime, port officials immediately sealed off the area.

It is understood to have happened as a ship was being unloaded and the loading operations were also halted so that HSE inspectors could gather evidence.

Port workers told the Evening Star that the man was take up the crane as part of his training to be shown how the equipment operates and also the "blind spots" where the driver has difficulty in seeing from above operations on the ground.

It was during this, essentially a safety exercise, that he fell from the crane.

The main is believed to have started working at the port at the beginning of the month and was near the completion of his training period.

Paul Davey, spokesman for the Port of Felixstowe, said many port staff working near the site were sent home for the afternoon after the tragedy and counselling is being provided for staff.

"The accident has come as a great shock to everyone who works at the Port and the thoughts of everyone here are with his wife and family," he said.

Shipping operations were stopped until about 7pm last night but were today operating as normally, except the crane where the accident happened, which was still cordoned off.

A witness, who was standing on the ground at the time, said: "We saw the man on the floor and we ran over to see if I could do anything but he was just lying there.

"It's the first time I have seen something like that and it's totally blown me away and I feel really strange. It's terrible. Every time I think about it I see him lying there.

"All he did was sit with the driver for an hour and came out along a gangway and fell from there between 100-150ft."

N Have you been involved in any safety issues at the port? If so telephone the Evening Star news desk on 01473 324789.

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