ILA Calls for Safety Meeting Following Accidents

December 1, 2004

In the wake of the death of an International Longshoreman’s Association (ILA) dockworker at Port Elizabeth in New Jersey on Sunday and injuries to three others in the Port of Charleston, South Carolina within the past two weeks, ILA’s John Bowers is calling for emergency Port Safety meetings involving the ILA, employers, and federal agencies including Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); Department of Transportation and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The ILA leader hopes to convene this meeting within the next several weeks and was prompted to act after ILA Safety Director Dennis Daggett traveled to South Carolina on Saturday to investigate the injuries to three Charleston ILA workers, two of whom are in critical conditions following accidents at that

The ILA Safety Director recommended to Bowers that the union and management safety directors at all ILA ports meet with federal safety agencies to examine ways to eliminate this recent rash of port accidents.

“Safety remains a top priority with the ILA as it is with our employers,”
Bowers said. “However, something is wrong when ILA members are
killed or critically injured at the work sites. We need to address this
problem immediately.”

This past Sunday, 63-year-old Oscar Cuthbert, a checker with ILA Local 1, was killed at Port Elizabeth when the cab he was working inside, which was attached to a leg of a container crane, was struck and crushed by a Straddle Carrier. It was reported the brakes on the Straddle Carrier had failed.

A day earlier in Charleston, two ILA dockworkers, John Godfrey and Henry Lincoln, sustained injuries while they were loading cargo. Wires securing the cargo snapped with the load falling on top of the
longshoremen and knocking them almost 20 feet down into the ship’s cargo hold.

Another accident occurred at the Port of Charleston on Nov. 18, when an ILA dockworker, Michael Clarkin, was critically injured after a container fell on top of his vehicle at the State Ports Authority.

In July, two South Carolina ILA members were killed and another injured in port accidents at the State Ports Authority’s Georgetown terminal.

“One accident is one too many and fatal accidents are a horrible tragedy,” said Bowers. “Anyone with an interest in the safety of our ports, and that includes the ILA, needs to come together to investigate these accidents and work toward eliminating them in the future.”

Immediately after learning about the accidents in the Port of Charleston on Saturday morning, Daggett flew to South Carolina and spent two days gathering information. Kenneth Riley, ILA president of Local 1422 in Charleston, joined the ILA safety director as they toured the accident sites, met with ILA longshore workers and visited with the injured ILA members and their families.

“It’s sad and tragic to see your colleagues so badly injured who were
simply just doing their jobs,” Daggett said. “I’m grateful President
Bowers endorses my call for a safety conference. The death of a longshoreman in New York on Sunday and the two deaths of longshoremen in South Carolina in July only demonstrate the urgent need for this conference.”

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