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Second dock death in 10 days: safety review under way
25/09/2012 - An urgent safety review is under way after a man was crushed to death by 20 tonnes of aluminium at Newcastle Port — the second death at the docks in 10 days. Miles Godfrey
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Wharfie Greg Fitzgibbon, 56, was killed instantly when the pallet of metal ingots fell on him at the Eastern Basin Distribution Centre in Carrington on Sunday night.
The married father of two was loading the pallet onto the 36,000 tonne Chinese-owned, Bahamas-registered Weaver Arrow cargo ship when the incident occurred.
"We have lost another member to a workplace accident that could and should have been avoided," Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) assistant secretary Warren Smith said.
A 55-year-old man suffered a cardiac arrest and died on board the Sage Sagittarius cargo ship, docked at Newcastle Port, on September 14.
Union sources say he was found at the bottom of stairs and may have suffered injuries before he died.
Autopsies are being carried out on both men and NSW police are investigating the deaths.
Sunday night's incident is being treated as an accident but the September 14 death is being treated as suspicious.
A Port of Newcastle spokesman declined to comment on Sunday's death, saying it was a police matter.
WorkCover and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) have launched safety reviews, while the MUA says it is seeking urgent meetings with Fitzgibbons' employer Newcastle Stevedores.
The ATSB says the packet of ingots "collapsed" on Fitzgibbon as it was lifted onto the ship.
Comment is being sought from Ports Minister Duncan Gay.
Meanwhile, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) is continuing to investigate another death on board Sage Sagittarius.
A crewman disappeared from the ship as it sailed about 400 kilometres off the Cairns coast on September 2.
The Maritime Union of Australia has suggested the crewman fell overboard after he complained about poor pay and conditions on the ship.
It later docked at Port Kembla, on NSW's Illawarra coast, where AFP officers boarded.
The AFP has not confirmed whether the September 2 incident is being treated as a murder, but said its investigations are continuing.
Sage Sagittarius has since been allowed to leave Newcastle Port.
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