Special day marks worker toll

By Kiri Gillespie

It has been just over a year since Ohauiti mum Sandi Clink lost her husband in a freak workplace accident.

Andrew Clink, 53, was a careful and experienced self-employed mechanic who died when a 15cm bolt from the sprayer he was working on flew into his skull. He died in Tauranga Hospital.

Friday would have been Mr Clink's birthday. Mrs Clink said that, combined with last month's anniversary of his death and the commemoration of a Workers' Memorial Day yesterday, had put her in "massive remembrance mode".

The memorial day paid respects to New Zealanders killed or injured on the job and their friends, families and colleagues left behind. Mrs Clink was pleased a memorial day for workers existed, as it helped highlight the importance of safety on the job. "I think it's a good thing, the fact that it remembers everybody," she said. "Over the last 12 months, I've spoken to people who knew Andrew, especially people using the same equipment, and they've said they put more safety procedures around that piece of equipment and have become more aware of things that can go wrong - that 1 per cent chance. One gentleman said to me he had Andrew's photo put up at work, reminding him every day to be safer at work."

Mr Clink was known to be timely, cautious and experienced in his profession. His was the only workplace death in Tauranga in 2012.

In October, a 41-year-old Port of Tauranga worker had his foot cut off by a wire rope that was part of a winch. In 2011, Walter Crosa, 49, died at the port when he was hit by a reversing grader.

Today, Rail and Maritime Transport Union members will commemorate their fallen comrades at a memorial near the port's Rata St gatehouse.

Union general secretary Wayne Butson said they were recommiting to fighting for the best possible health and safety standards and to change attitudes and behaviours.

He said 27 union rail and port members had been killed at work since 1994.

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said there was a general requirement that organisations protected workers' safety but there needed to be a culture change putting health and safety in the highest priority.

Tauranga MP and Labour Minister Simon Bridges said the trauma of a workplace death never left bereaved family, friends and work colleagues.

"Too many New Zealanders are killed or harmed at work. Workers' Memorial Day is a time to reflect on the critical importance of safe and healthy workplaces." He said an independent taskforce would recommend reforms of the system to bring down the death and injury toll in workplaces.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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