Tyres can pose risks to workers and others throughout their lifecycle, particularly when heavy vehicles are part of business operations. An increased use of tyres and disposal costs has meant an increase in the number of old tyres being stored around workplaces.
Workers and others are being injured while fitting, moving, storing and disposing of tyres. In addition, when free-standing tyres are stacked they can be unstable and so must be safely stored away from people and secured when they are not in use. This risk is particularly important to manage for home-based or agriculture workplaces where children are present, and where members of the public can access storage and other areas of the workplace.
During 2021-22 Workplace Health and Safety Queensland will focus on tyre safety in a number of industries to raise awareness of the risks associated with handling and storing tyres. The campaign also aims to improve industry practices to consider more effective controls and to increase compliance with duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
Key usage and repair issues
- Tyre filling and inflation levels – over inflation creates a risk, and is usually due to the use of an unregulated compressed air supply, such as an air outlet on a compressor without a pressure regulator and pressure gauge, or bypassing the air pressure regulator. A basic risk control is to use a remote tyre filling hose fitted with a pressure gauge when inflating tyres. This allows the tyre fitter to stand at a safe distance while monitoring the tyre inflation pressure. Split rim tyres can also be contained within a cage while they are filled with air so that if they explode the parts are contained.
- Tyre pyrolysis – this causes tyres to explode and can happen when a tyre has been damaged internally after the vehicle has contacted or come too close to electrical power lines, been struck by lightning, or been in a vehicle fire. In many cases the tyre damage cannot be detected by visual inspection, and tyres can explode many hours or days after the contact has occurred. Setting up an exclusion zone around the tyre or vehicle until after the danger period is a common risk control.
- Hot works on rims – performing hot work (e.g. welding) on a rim while it is fitted with a tyre can be dangerous, whether or not the rim is a single piece design or a split rim. The tyre is likely to burst off the rim during or shortly after the hot works.
Other common risks and issues can include:
- no workplace systems in place for safe storage and handling of tyres from delivery to fitting
- uncontrolled compressed air released from split rims
- serious sprains and strain injuries when performing tyre changing tasks
- under-reliance on material handling equipment such as foot-controlled hoists on tyre changers
- ineffective tyre storage, such as leaning them against sheds and other structures
- contact between stored tyres and mobile plant
- disposal of tyres i.e. manual handling tasks when loading and unloading and toxic pollutants from burning.
- Safety with tyre fitting
- Tyre safety campaign self-assessment tool (PDF, 0.17 MB)
- Qld Guidance Note QGN31: Tyre, wheel and rim management (Dpt Natural Resources, Mines and Energy)
- Worker killed after tyre explosion | WorkSafe.qld.gov.au (Sep 2019)
- Young worker injured by exploding tyre rim | WorkSafe.qld.gov.au (May 2019)
- Worker killed by exploding wheel and tyre | WorkSafe.qld.gov.au (Oct 2017 and refers to another rim-welding fatality for which fines were finalised in 2007)
Code of practice
- Hazardous manual tasks code of practice 2021 (PDF, 1.38 MB)
- Children and young workers code of practice 2006
- WorkSafe NSW - Tyres, compressed air and split rims
- HSE UK - Tyre removal, replacement and inflation
- Brookes, F.R. (HSE UK), “Explosions initiated by welding the rims of wheels fitted with tubeless tyres”, Journal of Occupational Accidents Vol 5 Issue 3 Nov 1983
- WorkSafe Victoria