ELIZABETH — A dockworker was hospitalized Wednesday night after police said her vehicle was lifted six feet off the dock by a shipping crane and dropped, the fourth incident in three months involving the death or injury of a worker at the APM Port Elizabeth terminal.
Wednesday’s incident occurred at 11:30 p.m. when a 62-year-old Roselle woman was behind the wheel of a tractor trailer used to move shipping containers around the docks, said Joe Pentangelo, a Port Authority police spokesman. Pentangelo said a crane lifted a container she was carrying, as well as her vehicle, also known as a “hustler,” before abruptly dropping he whole load.
He said the driver was taken to Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, where she was treated for a leg injury. The driver, Denise Woodyard, said in a brief phone interview today that the container had not been properly disconnected from her vehicle.
“The box got stuck somehow,” Woodyard said, referring to the container. “I don’t know whether it was open, or a pin slipped.”
It was the latest of four incidents that have killed one worker and injured a total of four others at APM since Aug. 7. On that day, 49-year-old Judy Jones of Newark died after being struck by a vehicle used to move containers. A coworker faces criminal charges that he was drunk when he ran Jones over.
On Sept. 17, two APM workers at the terminal suffered burns and smoke inhalation, when a vehicle caught fire. And on Oct. 15, a 49-year-old Paramus man was replacing a hoist cable at APM, when it wrapped around his arm and tightened, severing his hand.
A spokeswoman for the federal Occupational and Health Administration, Leni Uddyback-Forsten, said the agency had three open investigations into the three earlier incidents, though it was not formally looking into Wednesday night’s because it did not involve an overnight hospital stay.
The terminal’s managing director, Brian Clark, issued a statement saying the company takes all incidents seriously and constantly reviews its procedures “to ensure the safety of everyone on our terminal.”
“The occurrence of several serious, but unrelated, incidents is a reminder of the need to remain vigilant about workplace safety,” the statement added. “We will continue to collaborate on best practices with industry participants and will cooperate with authorities on any ongoing investigation.”
All of the workers are members of the International Longshoremen’s Association union, and ILA spokesman Jim McNamara said a special meeting was scheduled for Nov. 9 in Newark to address safety concerns raised by the APM incidents and others on the docks.
“We know there’s a problem,” McNamara said.