In April 2018, a concrete truck was parked on a wet, sloping driveway at a private property in Buderim in readiness for a concrete pour. The operator placed rubber chocks under the front wheels and timber chocks under the rear wheels of the truck.
The operator stopped the mixer from turning to commence the pour. It is believed this caused the truck to move and the chocks to begin sliding. The truck slid down the driveway, across the road, into another property (narrowly missing the house) and off a 1.5 metre retaining wall before rolling onto its side and stopping against a tree. There were no injuries and investigations are continuing.
Preventing a similar incident
There have been incidents where truck drivers and others have been killed or seriously injured after being hit, pinned or crushed by the uncontrolled movement of trucks. The risk of a truck moving in an uncontrolled or unexpected manner must be managed by ensuring appropriate control measures are in place. The controls will vary depending on the type of truck and whether it is fitted with operating plant such as concrete agitators, concrete pumping booms or vehicle loading cranes. Controls may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- If possible operate the truck on flat level ground.
- Do not drive or operate the truck on surfaces with excessive ground slope, or that are too slippery or too soft to safely support it.
- Follow the manufacturer's recommendations to safely operate the truck, particularly in relation to:
- maximum allowable ground slope
- allowable ground conditions and restrictions for soft or slippery surfaces
- specific setup requirements including vehicle restraints (i.e. wheel chocks) as specified for use with the plant.
- Before starting the work, conduct a risk assessment of the conditions of the site where the truck is to travel or operate.
- If the truck cannot safely access or operate in the proposed location, an alternate work method should be used (for example, a concrete placing boom truck may be setup nearby on level ground and pump the delivered concrete to where it is required).
- Ensure the hand/park brake is applied before exiting the vehicle.
- Ensure the brakes, including the hand/park brake, are well maintained.
- Install a hand/park brake warning system to alert drivers when the hand/park brake has not been applied (these can be easily retro-fitted).
- If the truck's engine power is not required to operate plant attached to it, remove the keys from the ignition and keep them secured.
- Ensure all components of the plant, truck or trailer are restrained or supported as required for particular tasks to be carried out safely (for example, on a concrete truck some inspection and maintenance tasks require the agitator movement to be locked).
- Ensure effective traffic management systems are in place (for example separating pedestrians and vehicles using physical barriers and exclusion zones).
Since 2012 there have been 80 events involving uncontrolled movement of a truck. Of these 29 resulted in a serious injury involving hospitalisation and three were fatal.
Each year there are around five accepted workers' compensation claims for injuries caused by uncontrolled movement of trucks. Of these, about 60 per cent are for a serious injury with five days or more off work.
Prosecutions and compliance
In May 2017 a company was fined $60,000 following the death of a worker who was run over by a truck and trailer. The worker was lying under the back of the trailer to check on bouncing that had occurred while driving. Moments later, the truck and trailer began moving backwards. The trailer wheels rolled over the worker, followed by the truck wheels.
In December 2016 a company was fined $60,000 and a court ordered undertaking for two years with recognisance of $60,000 following the death of a worker who was run over by a trailer. The prime mover and trailer appeared to have trouble releasing it trailer brakes. The worker went to the rear of the trailer and attempted to release a trailer brake. When the vehicle began rolling backwards he tried to re-engage the maxi-brake, but was struck by the trailer wheels.
In June 2016 a company was fined $120,000, after a worker who was operating a six tonne mobile yard crane to perform load-shifting of steel product was killed. The worker was seen running alongside the crane which was travelling down a slope, uncontrolled, with no-one in the operator's seat. He was either struck by the crane or tripped, then run over and killed. He was not licensed to operate this type of crane.
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