A maintenance issue at the Port of Oakland led to a fatal crane accident, state investigators announced Thursday, a day after a 51-year-old man was crushed to death.
Peter Melton, a spokesman for California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health, said that some type of "maintenance" issue involving the crane trolley's wheels caused the equipment to veer off-center about 10:30 a.m. at Berth 37.
"It wasn't traveling smoothly or correctly," Melton said.
Two workers were trying to adjust the trolley so that all four of its wheels would properly travel on the rails, when one of them - identified by the Alameda County Coroner as Mark Arnett - got pinned between the bumper of the trolley and a guard rail.
Arnett suffered crushing injuries to his head and chest and was later taken to Summit Medical Center in Oakland, where he was pronounced dead.
The port voluntarily shut down the crane operation, Melton said, and the company that owns the crane - Evergreen - agreed not to operate the crane until the maintenance work is complete. There is no estimate on how long that will take.
When that work is done, Melton said Cal-OSHA will come to inspect the work, and need to sign off on it before allowing the crane trolley to be put back to work.
In a statement, Arnett's employer, Ports America said: “Ports America is extremely saddened by this tragedy. We extend are deepest sympathy to his family. The safety of our employees is of the utmost importance to us."
Arnett was a member of the International Association of Machinist and Aeropace Workers.
The death marks at least the second serious accident at the Port of Oakland in the last five years, Cal-OSHA records show. A dockworker from Ports America was run over last year by a container lift and lost both her legs.