Warning issued after farmer dies while inflating tyre
The South Australian Coroner, David Whittle, has issued a warning to the public following the death of a man on a farming property while he was inflating a tyre. The coroner’s findings revealed that a split rim or multi-piece rimmed tyre exploded, causing fatal injuries. The man died of a ‘severe traumatic brain injury’, which he sustained when using a compressor to inflate a tyre fitted to a multi-piece rim. The tyre exploded and a piece of the rim struck his head. The cause and circumstances of the man’s death were clear and the Coroner determined, following consultation with the man’s family, that an inquest would not be held. Martyn Campbell, Executive Director SafeWork SA, said this is a high-risk task where people can be seriously injured or killed.
“Air-filled tyres can explode when over-pressurised or are defective. SafeWork SA reminds everyone when inflating tyres of the risks associated with the task and how to control these,” Campbell said.
The General Guide for Split Rims, published by Safe Work Australia, states, “Every year people are killed or seriously injured when inflating a pneumatic tyre or removing a split rim assembly from a vehicle. Even an exploding wheelbarrow split rim has been known to cause fatal injuries.”
The guide explains that the main hazard is the uncontrolled releasing of compressed air from the tyre rim assembly and the compressed air propelling parts of the tyre, wheel or rim at significant speed. Possible hazards when interacting with split rims include incorrectly fitted parts, damaged or mismatched parts, damage by corrosion, wear, deformations and cracks, tyre defects, confusing wheel assembly bolts with bolts used to attach a wheel to the vehicle, over inflation and pyrolysis.
Employers must ensure that workers and other people are not exposed to health and safety risks, with appropriate safety precautions taken when inflating tyres, particularly on split or multi-piece rims, in workplaces. These precautions may include inflating tyres in purpose-built safety cages and using a long compressor hose which can be remotely controlled, so the operator is well clear.
Advice and further information on tyres, compressed air and split rims, including how to safely inflate tyres and how to check for defects and signs of wear and tear, is available on the website. Safe Work Australia’s split rims and compressed air guidance material informs how to manage the risks associated with split rims and compressed air.
Split vehicle rims and multi-piece rims are not uncommon in private applications, particularly with older recreational four-wheel-drive vehicles and on machinery operated on private properties. Private operators are urged to be mindful of the danger of injury from such wheel assemblies and to avoid inflation with facing or close to the wheel and tyre.
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