Vic freight company fined $35,000 after truck fatality
Freight company Tarantino Investments Pty Ltd has pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure that plant being used for a purpose for which it was supplied was safe and without risks to health, following the death of a garbage truck driver at Epping. The company was fined $35,000 without conviction and ordered to pay $7500 in costs.
In December 2019, a subcontracted truck driver was supplied with a side loading trailer to transport a full shipping container from the company’s Brooklyn depot to a business in Epping. After unloading the container, the driver noticed that one of the stabilising legs on the trailer’s crane did not fully retract using the remote control and used manual levels to retract it. The driver then moved the truck to load an empty shipping container before driving back onto the road without realising that the rear stabilising leg had not fully retracted and was sitting parallel with the ground. A short time later the protruding stabiliser leg collided with the cabin of a garbage truck travelling in the opposite direction, killing the garbage truck’s driver instantly.
An investigation found that the wiring of the side loading trailer was in a poor state of repair, having suffered some previous structural damage, and the remote control had been repaired with duct tape and cable ties. It was reasonably practicable for the company to have implemented a regular maintenance regime of the electrical and mechanical componentry of the trailer by a suitably qualified person; ensured that the control box and electrical componentry were in reasonable working condition; or replaced the control box and electrical componentry when regular maintenance issues arose.
Duty holders using plant fitted with a stabilising arm or outriggers are advised to ensure that warning or indicating systems are fitted to alert or remind the driver that the outriggers or stabilising arms are deployed. Mechanical or hydraulic locks must also be fitted to prevent extension of the outriggers or stabilisers during transit, with manual (non-powered) stabilisers or outriggers incorporating a secondary latching or locking mechanism to reduce the likelihood of the outrigger or stabilising arm extending during transit.
Duty holders must also ensure that drivers are trained in the use of plant, including how to secure/stow the plant for transport. The plant must be used in line with the manufacturer’s instructions. All plant, including warning and indicating systems, must also be regularly inspected and maintained to ensure it is operating as intended. Duty holders are also advised to control fatigue risks and ensure drivers are fit for work.
WorkSafe Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said there was no excuse for failing to maintain vehicles being used for work. “This company’s failure put other road users in extreme danger. Tragically, we have already seen 12 workers killed in vehicle accidents this year and WorkSafe will not hesitate to take strong action against duty holders refusing to control the known risks,” said Beer.
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