Truck safety reminder issued after spate of worker deaths
WorkSafe Victoria has reminded employers and workers of the hazards involved in working around trucks after four workers died in separate incidents in the past two months. On 11 July, a 29-year-old diesel mechanic died after he was run over while working underneath a B-double trailer in Werribee South. This marked the ninth workplace fatality involved loading, unloading or working around trucks in the past 12 months and the fifth this year.
A 60-year-old driver died in hospital on 21 January after suffering severe head injuries when he fell from the top of a truck at a grain depot in Maffra. On 25 May, a 54-year-old farm worker was crushed while attempting to unload a bulk seed bag into a semitrailer at Crowlands. On 22 June, a 64-year-old traffic controller died in Wahring after a truck trailer tipped on him while unloading gravel. On 5 July, a 55-year-old worker died after he was crushed between a tip truck and front-end loader while unloading grain pellets at a property in Cowwarr.
Another two workers died in early July when they were struck by falling loads or equipment; a worker died when a truck rolled while loading a skip and another worker suffered fatal injuries after falling from a trailer. Two other workers were injured in a separate incident, while loading hot wax into a tanker in West Melbourne.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Dr Narelle Beer urged employees to check their safety processes and do everything they can to reduce hazards around loading and unloading trucks. Beer said that the risks of becoming trapped, being crushed or falling from heights need to be taken seriously.
“Whether trucks are making deliveries to a construction site, on a farm or manoeuvring around a depot, wherever trucks are operating, employers must take all reasonable steps to maintain a safe workplace. We’ve seen a number of incidents where workplaces did not have adequate traffic management plans in place to reduce the risks from moving trucks, plant or nearby traffic, resulting in serious injuries,” said Beer.
WorkSafe will prosecute those that fail to provide a safe workplace, with penalties including significant fines and potentially jail. WorkSafe supports employers to develop safe workplaces and systems through site visits and guidance, with further support available through its free and confidential OHS Essentials program.
In May 2021, concrete manufacturer Dandy Premix Concrete Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $120,000 after a worker was run over by a truck and seriously injured at its Pakenham plant in 2018. Recently, WorkSafe has been targeting activity involving heavy vehicles across all industries. Inspectors are visiting workplaces focusing on activities around loading and unloading, including preventing falls from vehicles, objects falling, vehicle rollaways and being hit by other vehicles, forklifts or animals.
Employers using or working around trucks are reminded to ensure that a traffic management plan is in place for pedestrians and mobile plant and that it is reviewed and updated as appropriate. An effective communication system between operators, transport contractors and ground staff must also be in place, along with signage and barriers erected where appropriate. All machinery and vehicles must be inspected regularly by a suitably qualified person. Visibility issues must be identified and controlled, particularly if the lighting is poor. Workers operating loading and unloading equipment must hold the appropriate high-risk work licences, as required. Employers must also ensure that drivers are aware of the proximity of powerlines.
For information about managing the risks associated with tip trucks and trailers, visit www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/safety-alerts/tipper-truck-and-trailer-rollover-crushes-traffic-controller.
For safety information on unloading flat-bed truck trailers, visit www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/unloading-flat-bed-truck-trailers.
For information on transport, logistics and warehousing safety, visit www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/transport-logistics-and-warehousing-safety-basics.
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