In September 2018, a worker sustained serious crush injuries to his hand, leg, pelvis and torso, as well as a collapsed lung when he was trapped under the wheels of his truck while delivering timber and plasterboard. He parked the truck on a very steep driveway to unload using a vehicle loading crane with which he may not have been familiar. There were no witnesses to the incident, but skid marks on the driveway indicated the truck had slid approximately 11 metres before crashing into a retaining wall. It is not clear how the worker became trapped 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 auxiliary plant such as a vehicle loading crane, concrete agitator, or concrete pumping boom. 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 which are too slippery or soft.
- Follow the manufacturer's recommendations to safely operate the truck or any attached plant, particularly in relation to:
- maximum allowable ground slope
- allowable ground conditions and restrictions for soft or slippery surfaces
- any specific setup requirements including vehicle restraints (i.e. wheel chocks).
- Before starting work, assess the condition 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 must be used.
- Ensure the handbrake is applied before exiting the vehicle.
- Ensure the brakes, including the handbrake, are well maintained and operating effectively.
- Install a handbrake warning system to alert drivers when the handbrake has not been applied before getting out of the truck (these can be easily retro-fitted).
- If the truck's engine power is not required to operate equipment attached to it, remove the keys from the ignition and keep them secured.
- Ensure all components of the truck, trailer and attached equipment are restrained or supported as required for particular tasks to be carried out safely.
From July 2012 to June 2018, there have been 49 incidents involving worker or others being crushed, struck or run-over by a truck moving uncontrolled. Twelve were fatal and 28 involved a serious injury. In the same period, 49 improvement notices and 25 prohibition notices have been issued for uncontrolled movement or rolling of trucks, semi-trailers, or prime-movers.
Each year there are around 130 accepted workers' compensation claims involving a worker being struck or crushed by a truck or part of a truck. Of these claims, more than a third involve serious injury and two are fatal.
Prosecutions and compliance
In May 2017 a company was fined $60,000 and an individual $3,000 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 February 2017 a regional council was fined $170,000 following the death of a council worker. The worker was struck and run over by a reversing truck on a civil construction site.
In December 2016 a road freight transport 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 its 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 shift steel 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 tipped, then run over and killed. He was not licensed to operate this type of crane.
- Managing the Risk 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
- Industry solution – Hydraulic hoist and vehicle isolation