A Woolworths worker tragically killed after being crushed by falling pallets at a distribution center has been remembered as the “most beautiful soul”.
Basel ‘Baz’ Brikha, 37, was working at the Woolworths distribution center in Minchinbury, western Sydney, at around 3:30pm last Tuesday when he was struck by pallets.
Mr. Brikha was pinned to the ground. Two colleagues rushed to his aid, but were also hit by paddles and suffered serious head injuries.
All three were rushed to Westmead Hospital but Mr Brikha sadly later died despite the best efforts of emergency workers.
The incident has prompted calls for the piece of machinery involved in his death to be banned.
Basel ‘Baz’ Brikha, 37 (pictured) tragically died in a work accident
Emergency services are shown on the scene last Tuesday after Mr Brikha and two colleagues were seriously injured.
Tributes have poured in online for the beloved uncle and godfather, with loved ones describing him as a “gentle and kind soul” who would “always bring a smile to your face, no matter what kind of day you have.”
It is understood that Mr. Brikha grew up in Wellington, New Zealand, before immigrating to Australia.
Her longtime friend, Hera Sefou, said she was “heartbroken” and hoped it was a “bad dream” after hearing that Mr Brikha, who is her son’s godfather, had passed away.
He said that Brikha met his family on Mondays for “family dinners” and despite the fact that it was his only day off, he decided to spend it with them.
‘I have no words that can express how much pain my children and I feel for you. It wasn’t your time! We still had a lot to do together,’ she said.
‘I just can’t believe it. God really takes the best.
‘My Baz, I hope you are resting easy with your mom. I’ll make sure Eli knows what an amazing best man she was. I will never forget you, my heart is so broken.
Another loved one, Martina Toma Eli, said she was still struggling to come to terms with Brikha’s death.
“It seems so unreal Baz,” he said.
Mr. Brikha has been remembered as a “beautiful soul” who always brought a smile to the faces of those around him.
‘I know that you [sic] at peace, but we weren’t ready.’
Hundreds of loved ones gathered at Saint Zaia’s Cathedral in Middleton Grange last Thursday to commemorate Mr Brikha, who will be fired at the same church later this week.
Stock image of a lollipop dispenser
A Primary Connect spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia that the company, which is responsible for Woolworths’ supply chain platform, was “deeply saddened” by Birkha’s death.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with the friends and family of our team members at this difficult time and we are currently supporting the family and the two members of our team who were also injured in the incident,” they said.
We are cooperating with the NSW Police and SafeWork NSW to investigate the incident and will also be conducting our own investigation.
“Out of respect for team members and their families, we are closing our distribution center for a period of time.”
It is understood that supply chain personnel have been offered advisory services.
The United Workers Union issued a statement offering condolences to Mr. Brikha’s family and confirming that he was providing support to his colleagues.
“The United Workers Union is deeply saddened that a Woolworth DC member died on his shift yesterday,” he tweeted Wednesday.
We are working with the company to ensure that all workers on site are supported during this painful time and can access the appropriate services.
‘Every worker should be able to return home to his family unharmed.’
Workplace tragedy led to supply shortages in Sydney. Pictured is a photo of an empty fresh produce shelf posted by an online shopper
Members of an unofficial Facebook group consisting of pallet dispensers who are members of the distribution center union should be banned in the wake of the tragedy.
Pallet dispensers are machines designed to automatically load, store and dispense pallets, which depending on the size can handle between 20 and 50 pallets at a time.
‘All lollipop dispensers across Australia must close immediately at Woolworths DC [distribution centre] after death at Minchbury’, SNDC wrote in an online post.
‘The union has to act to protect its members.’
Dozens of members liked the post, with one woman saying the incident was “just a matter of time” because the machinery was unsafe.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Woolworths for comment.
Last week’s workplace accident disrupted operations, leading to major supply shortages at Woolworths stores in Sydney.
Shoppers shared images on social media of row after row of empty shelves as some stores ran out of fresh produce.
A Woolworths spokesman said stock levels are expected to return to normal this week.