Employers urged to prioritise safety after workers struck by moving vehicles

Friday, 04 March, 2022

Employers urged to prioritise safety after workers struck by moving vehicles

WorkSafe Queensland is investigating three separate incidents in which workers were struck by moving vehicles. In November 2021, a worker lost his life after being hit by an unmanned truck which he may have been warming up. In December 2021, a worker was seriously injured by a reversing road roller during asphalt-laying operations at a road work construction site. Initial enquiries revealed that the worker was testing the asphalt near the roller which struck him while compacting the road surface. In January 2022, a man died after being hit by a truck at a worksite. The worker was part of a crew laying out power lines on the side of the road. Early investigations revealed that the man may have been talking on his mobile phone when he was hit by the reversing truck.

The operation of powered mobile plant exposes workers to a range of risks to health and safety. Powered mobile plant includes trucks, mobile cranes and earthmoving machinery, such as rollers, graders, scrapers, bobcats and excavators. There have been numerous incidents in Queensland where workers have been seriously injured or killed by powered mobile plant.

Mobile vehicles generally pose potential risks to operators or others nearby, such as the vehicle colliding with or contacting people or objects such as other vehicles or plant and energised powerlines. Other risks include the vehicle moving in an uncontrolled or unexpected manner, or overturning. Operators of mobile vehicles can often have severely restricted visibility of ground workers or nearby pedestrians, particularly those close to the vehicle.

Taking steps to manage risks is a condition of doing business in Queensland. Effective risk management begins with a commitment to the health and safety of those who manage the business. If an incident occurs, persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) must show the regulator that they’ve used an effective risk management process. This responsibility is covered by the primary duty of care in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Use of the hierarchy of controls can help PCBUs decide how to eliminate and reduce risks in their place of work. The hierarchy of control ranks types of control methods from the highest level of protection and reliability to the lowest. PCBUs must work through the hierarchy of controls when managing risks, with the aim of eliminating the hazard, which is the most effective control.

Employers and self-employed people are required to control the risk associated with vehicles and mobile plant, including the risk of pedestrians being struck by vehicles such as trucks. Before operating any vehicle, the person with management or control of it must ensure that the vehicle selected is right for the task and is fitted with suitable safety features (such as rear-view mirrors and reversing warning devices). Employers and self-employed persons should also oversee the design and implementation of a traffic management plan that identifies suitable exclusion zones. These should be communicated to workers and other persons in the vicinity before tasks are carried out.

Spotters should be used where required, with suitable means of communication between the spotter and operator (such as a two-way radio) to assist with the safe movement of the vehicle, particularly where there may be blind spots or other workers in the vicinity. Ground conditions and the intended travel pathway must also be inspected and assessed to identify any problems, such as sloping ground. There must be adequate lighting to safely operate the vehicle; if outdoors, the effect of adverse weather conditions (such as reduced visibility) must also be considered. Any workers around the vehicle must be aware of operator blind spots and exclusion zones.

The vehicle must be fitted with a working audible warning device. The person with management or control of the vehicle must ensure that it has a warning device to alert persons who may be at risk from the movement of the vehicle. There are a number of warning devices that can be fitted to mobile vehicles to alert the operator and others in the workplace, including automatic audible alarms, motion sensors, lights, and radio sensing devices that activate when the operator selects reverse. Trucks must be fitted with handbrake alarms to alert drivers that the braking system is not engaged before hopping out.

Operators must ensure that trucks and mobile plant are properly immobilised before being cleaned or worked on. A suitable combination of operator protective devices for the vehicle must be provided, such as enclosed cabins and seatbelts, with the manufacturer’s operating instructions to be read and followed by the operator. Untrained or inexperienced workers should not operate the vehicle, particularly in unfamiliar or high-risk terrain or for unfamiliar tasks.

Workers should receive the necessary information, training, instruction or supervision to control the risks associated with the vehicle. The training programs should be practical and ‘hands on’, and take into account the particular needs of workers like literacy levels, work experience and specific skills required for safe use of the vehicle. Employers should ensure that worker training, experience and competency aligns with the requirements and complexity of the task, with training on the make and model of the vehicle documented.

PCBUs must first consider controls that most effectively eliminate the risk or that minimise the risks. Hazards such as pedestrians being struck by vehicles may also be minimised by implementing administrative controls, so far as is reasonably practicable. Administrative controls can include the design and implementation of a traffic management plan.

A traffic management plan is a set of rules for managing the movement of traffic in the workplace. It should be developed by the PCBU in consultation with workers and others in the workplace. Everyone affected by the plan must understand and follow it. An effective traffic management plan must include broad types of control measures that aim to keep vehicles and people apart; limit vehicle movement or speed; avoid the need for reversing vehicles; provide a safe area for the driver; provide clear signage of road/area markings and ensure effective workplace communication.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/KM.Photo

Related News

Company enters $480K enforceable undertaking after forklift injury

A Victorian building material supplier has committed to spend $480,509 to improve health and...

Company fined $140K after truck driver crushed by steel beams

A warehouse, storage and transport company has been fined after a delivery truck driver sustained...

Safety warning issued for quad bikes and side-by-side vehicles

SafeWork NSW has issued a safety warning for the use of quad bikes and side-by-side vehicles,...

  • All content Copyright © 2024 Westwick-Farrow Pty Ltd