Employers urged to ensure safe vehicle movement after several deaths
Workers and employers are being urged to ensure safe movement of vehicles on worksites after the results of a coronial inquest into the death of a postal worker were released. An Australia Post worker was killed after being struck by a reversing front-end loader that was clearing a residential construction site in Huntingdale in 2015, according to WorkSafe WA.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said the Coroner “commented on the many hazards faced by postal workers every day in the course of their work” and that “the hazards of operating heavy plant and equipment on worksites where there was a possibility of coming into contact with the public were also well known at the time of the incident”.
As a result, Kavanagh reminded employers of the need to implement safe systems of work in areas used by vehicles and employees. “Wherever vehicles and people occupy the same workspace, strict rules need to be in place to ensure the work environment is kept as safe as possible,” Kavanagh said. “There’s been a number of serious incidents over recent years involving vehicles and mobile plant operating in the same area as pedestrians, and the results can be devastating.”
WorkSafe WA referenced two separate 2018 incidents which saw workers crushed between a bogged vehicle and its recovery vehicle. In both cases, the worker was either connecting or disconnecting the chain between the stranded and recovery vehicles. A short time later, a man was killed when a tractor moved unexpectedly while he was investigating an oil leak underneath the vehicle, according to the regulator.
“It’s evident by the number of injuries and deaths that have occurred over recent years that the focus has not been on the personnel/machine interface where vehicles and workers interact,” Kavanagh said. “We’re very concerned about incidents involving mobile plant and workers. There are a number of contributing factors to these incidents, but a lack of safe work procedures and a lack of segregation of workers and vehicles is the common thread.
“I urge employers to ensure movement and speed of vehicles is managed to minimise the risk of injury and that workplaces are designed and maintained to ensure the safety of operators and others. In addition, safe systems of work, communication systems and signage need to be in place, and everyone at the workplace needs to be adequately trained in these safe systems. Lastly, where possible, workers should not be in close proximity to moving plant or underneath vehicles or plant that is not adequately supported.
“A guidance note is available on the safe movement of vehicles at workplaces, and all relevant workplaces should ensure they are familiar with the contents of this publication. A self-assessment tool is also available on the WorkSafe website so workplaces that contain vehicles or other mobile plant can actually assess themselves for compliance with workplace safety laws.”
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