Conviction after tow truck driver death

By Safety Solutions Staff
Wednesday, 09 August, 2017

The death of a tow truck driver has led to a $275,000 fine and conviction for the towing company.

A boom crane was being loaded by the employee onto a truck parked on a suburban street when he was struck and seriously injured by a van. He died several days later in hospital.

The JMAL Group Pty Ltd of Sunshine North pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to provide a safe system of work and one charge of failing to ensure that persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety arising from the conduct of the employer’s undertaking. The company was also ordered to pay costs of $12,000.

The court heard that on 5 August 2015 the employee had arrived at an equipment hire company in Williamstown to collect a 20-metre-long boom crane to transport to Tullamarine. He parked his prime mover and began the process of loading the crane onto the trailer.

Just before 5 am, the employee was in the cage of the crane, in the middle of the road, when it was struck by a van driving along the street. The van driver was not injured, but the employee was seriously injured in the incident and died several days later.

It was dark and raining at the time of the incident, and there were no safety lights, traffic cones or warning measures in place to warn motorists of the crane being loaded onto the trailer. Illuminated lights at the rear of the trailer were obscured by its loading ramps and the street was a no standing zone.

The court heard that JMAL operated a number of trucks which were used to transport mobile plant and equipment to different locations. They would often park in the same street.

It was told the company had exposed employees and road users to the risk of serious injury by failing to have a traffic management plan in place, and had failed to train its drivers to understand the risks associated with loading and unloading machinery on public roads.

WorkSafe Victoria’s executive director of health and safety, Marnie Williams, said the incident was a tragic reminder that failing to have safe systems of work in place put the lives of workers and the public in danger.

“The risks around loading and transporting machinery are well known, and there is no excuse for businesses that specialise in this type of work not having systems in place to manage these risks,” Williams said.

“In this case, a failure to have a simple traffic management plan in place has cost a family a loved one and put another road user in serious danger.”

Williams said workers performing tasks on or near public roads needed to be taught the risks, and be provided with a traffic management plan which outlined the safety requirements of the job.

“This can be as simple as having signage and warning devices in place to indicate to other road users that loading or unloading is taking place,” she said.

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