Workplace death at Dublin Port prompts new safety measures, inquest told

Thomas Breslin (61) crushed between container and metal vent on P&O Ferry

The Health and Safety Authority  found the safety systems in place on June 22nd 2017 when Mr Breslin died ‘could be improved upon’. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The Health and Safety Authority found the safety systems in place on June 22nd 2017 when Mr Breslin died ‘could be improved upon’. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

A 61-year-old man died after he became trapped by a container he was directing onto a ferry at Dublin Port.

Thomas Breslin from Loughlinstown, Co Dublin sustained crush injuries after he was pinned between a container and a metal vent on the top deck of the freight and passenger vessel, the European Endeavour. He was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy revealed the man had alcohol level of 164 mgs per 100 mls of blood. Mr Breslin had just returned from his lunch break on June 22nd, 2017 when the incident happened at 1.25pm.

The container was being reversed into position by a tug driver who was being directed by Mr Breslin. The tug driver was reversing slowly and awaiting for a whistle signal from Mr Breslin to indicate the container was in position when another crew member raised the alarm.

“I heard no whistle, I didn’t know what was going on. I’m totally blindsided from the man at the back (Mr Breslin), I’m dependent on the whistle,” tug driver Pascal Smullen said in his deposition.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that P&O Ferries has upgraded its workplace safety measures following Mr Breslin’s death.

Operators previously stood in a ‘danger zone’ behind containers as they were being moved into position.

New safety measures require operatives to avoid danger areas where containers are being moved into position and remain in ‘safe zones’ clear of moving containers. The whistle notification system was tested and remains in place as the most simple and effective method of communication between crew members working on deck.

Mr Breslin was rushed to the Mater Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 2.09pm.

The cause of death was due to severe crush injuries.

A Health and Safety Authority report found the system of work required Mr Breslin to move from a danger zone into a safe zone and ‘for whatever reason’ that day, he did not.

The HSA found the safety systems in place on June 22nd 2017 “could be improved upon”.

The jury returned a verdict of misadventure and recommended that all employers and stakeholders be informed of the changes made by P&O Ferries. The jury endorsed the company’s zero tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol which includes random testing of employees for both.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said she would make the jury’s recommendations known to the Minister for Transport and offered sympathies to the family.

“It’s very difficult for you to have had to bring those events back to mind,” the coroner said.