In May 2019, a young worker suffered serious facial injuries when the split rim that he and another worker were performing maintenance on, exploded.
For reasons yet to be established, it appears the tyre exploded while the workers were removing a tyre from a split rim on an earthmover. Investigations are continuing.
Preventing a similar incident
Split rims are multi-piece or divided rims and wheels held together by bolts or a lock ring. They are most commonly used on heavy vehicles, off-road vehicles and rubber-tyre plant, such as earthmoving machinery, trucks, forklifts and rural use vehicles.
Under no circumstances should any work be carried out on a wheel while it has a pressurised tyre mounted on it, particularly any welding or wheel repair work.
When repairing, maintaining or changing tyres on earthmoving machinery or other heavy vehicles, you must ensure that:
- tyres are deflated prior to being removed from the machinery or vehicle
- workers are trained and competent to perform the work task
- the wheel is inspected for damage and corrosion prior to the refitting of tyres
- tyres, whether new or used, are inspected for defects
- tyres are removed from the wheel to prevent damage during the repair process
- tyre and rim assemblies are adequately secured in a safety cage or other portable restraint device prior to inflating the tyre
- potential trajectory paths from a failure and exclusion zones have been identified
- workers stand outside of any exclusion zones
- tyres are only inflated to the recommended pressure
- the air hose between the clip-on valve nozzle and the remote gauge and trigger is long enough for workers to stay outside of the exclusion zone
- a remote dump valve is also fitted that is capable of rapidly deflating the tyre in an emergency.
Employers should also be aware that young workers are over-represented in injury statistics in all industries compared to older and more experienced workers. Young workers have a unique risk profile which means:
- they may not perceive when something becomes unsafe
- you cannot rely on them to ask questions or speak up with concerns
- it is important employers and supervisors understand the factors that can impact on their safety
- you must provide them with adequate information, training, instruction and supervision.
Young workers also have responsibilities, including to:
- follow all reasonable instructions
- follow workplace policies and procedures
- not put themselves or your workmates at risk
- wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as required
- report unsafe situations, injuries or near-misses to your immediate supervisor and/or employer.
On average each year, there are 36 workers' compensation claims accepted for injuries relating to being hit or trapped or by an explosion involving vehicle wheels and tyres.
Since 2013, we have been notified of 23 events involving exploding tyres and have issued seven statutory notices relating to the risk of tyre explosions across all industries.
- How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks Code of Practice 2021 (PDF, 1.02 MB)
- Managing the Risk of Plant in the Workplace Code of Practice 2021 (PDF, 1.57 MB)
- General guide for split rims - Safe Work Australia
- Workplace hazard - Safety with tyre fitting
- Workplace hazard - Rim wheels
- Split rims and multi-piece wheels (film) - WorkCover NSW
- Young worker safety toolkit (PDF, 4.13 MB)
- An introduction to risks at work - a presentation for young workers (PPTX, 3.87 MB)
- Keeping young workers safe - a workshop for workplace supervisors and managers (PPTX, 4.08 MB)