Worker Crushed By Shipping Cargo at Port of Oakland

A longshoreman was crushed to death in a loading accident while working at the nation's fourth-largest port in Oakland, Calif.

According to the Port of Oakland, the fatal accident occurred on Sept. 24 aboard the vessel the Stuttgart Express, operated by Hapag Lloyd, while members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) were moving cargo on the ship. The victim, identified in news reports as Reginald Ross, 39, of San Francisco, was one of the ILWU workers helping move a 15-ton container to the top of another container on the ship when the container slipped and crushed him.

Omar Benjamin, executive director of the Port of Oakland, said the members of the ILWU Longshore Local 10 called off work on Sept. 26. Benjamin called ILWU President Tommy Clark to offer his condolences.

“We are saddened by the loss of one of our Port of Oakland team members and express our condolences to the longshoreman’s family and to the larger ILWU family,” Benjamin said. “The Port of Oakland is also looking into the incident and together with our safety partners will determine what steps will be taken to ensure an incident like this never happens again.”

ILWU spokesperson John Showalter told OccupationalHazards.com that federal OSHA is investigating the incident. When asked if the union thought there were any workplace hazards that contributed to the worker's death, Showalter said he couldn't speculate on the incident.

“We'll just have to wait and what the authorities [OSHA] have to say on that,” he said.

According to Benjamin, Cal/OHSA initially responded to the incident, but because the accident occurred aboard the vessel, it is now under the jurisdiction of federal OSHA.

As a result of the shutdown of port operations on Sept. 26, there has been a backup of cargo that could last up to a week, Benjamin said. The port was back in business on Sept. 27.

According to Benjamin and the ILWU, this is the first time in more than 7 years that there has been a fatal injury accident at the Port of Oakland involving an ILWU member.

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