In February 2018, a six year old primary school student was seriously injured by a golf buggy being driven on the school grounds. Early investigations indicate the student came out of the toilet block and ran into the path of the golf buggy. The student sustained leg and skull fractures and bleeding on the brain. Investigations are continuing.
Preventing a similar incident
A golf buggy used to transport grounds staff around the school yard is considered mobile plant. Operators, bystanders and other workers have been killed or seriously injured after being hit, pinned or crushed by mobile plant.
At a primary school it may be more difficult for the operator to see children because they are small and can move quickly and unpredictably. If you are the person with management or control of mobile plant at a school, you must be extremely vigilant in your awareness of other people in the vicinity.
Where there is a risk of people being hit or crushed by mobile plant, duty holders should consider these control measures:
- ensure the mobile plant is used in accordance with manufacturer's specifications
- have an effective traffic management system (traffic and pedestrian management plan) in place, for example separating or isolating pedestrians and mobile plant through:
- physical barriers
- exclusion zones (e.g. near doorways and areas with blind corners)
- scheduling activities at different times, e.g. refrain from using the buggy immediately before and after school and during break times
- assess whether the mobile plant is suitable for the tasks and its operating speed is suitable for the environment
- ensure no-one works in, under or around the mobile plant unless it has been prevented from moving
- ensure workers receive appropriate instruction, training and supervision and are competent to safely operate the plant
- ensure all safety features and warning devices are used in accordance with instructions
- when not in use, ensure the mobile plant is left in a state that does not create a risk to health and safety.
These procedures should be regularly updated and communicated to all staff.
Since 2012 there have been 36 incidents where people have been trapped, hit or crushed by mobile plant in the education industry. Of these 33 involved a serious injury. Across all industries in the same period there have been 1447 incidents. Of these, 115 involved a fatality and 981 involved a serious injury. These figures include some vehicle incidents on public roads.
Every year there are around 14 accepted workers' compensation claims involving an education industry worker injured by mobile plant. Of these claims, about 30 per cent are a serious injury with five or more days off work, and two are for a fatality.
Across all industries, every year there are around 600 accepted workers' compensation claims involving a worker injured by mobile plant. Of these claims, about 40 per cent are a serious injury with five or more days off work, and two are for a fatality.
Prosecutions and compliance
In 2016 a company was prosecuted and fined $120,000, following the death of a mobile crane operator. The unlicensed worker was instructed to shift steel products using the crane. While attempting this task, he was seen running alongside the crane which was travelling, uncontrolled, down a slope. He either tripped or was struck, then was run over and killed by the crane.
Another company was fined $35,000 in 2016 after a worker was injured when he was crushed between pallets. He was kneeling down removing stock from a pallet when a forklift being operated by another person picked it up. The forklift continued to move forward crushing him against a second pallet and breaking his ribs.
In 2013, a company was fined $35,000 and the individual plant operator was given a 12 month court ordered undertaking when a reversing forklift collided with a worker in a loading bay area resulting in fractures to the right leg and foot.
- How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.65 MB)
- Children and Young Workers Code of Practice 2006 (PDF, 0.42 MB)
- Managing risks of plant in the workplace code of practice 2021 (PDF, 1.57 MB)
- Managing the work environment and facilities code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.57 MB)
- Safety Alert – Heavy vehicles and trailers hitting or crushing workers