In June 2020, a grader was doing road works at a construction site when it struck a worker who suffered serious leg injuries.
Investigations into the incident are ongoing.
These findings are not yet confirmed and investigations are continuing into the exact cause.
Preventing a similar incident
Where powered mobile plant or vehicles are moving in and around the workplace, there is risk they may come into contact with people. Often when a mobile plant hits a person serious or fatal injury occur. The risk to people increases when the operator’s visibility is impaired due to travel direction, or size and shape of the plant.
Powered mobile plant includes but is not limited to earthmoving machinery (e.g. rollers, graders, scrapers and bobcats), excavators, and mobile cranes. People required to work around powered mobile plant may also be exposed to excessive noise and vibration, as well as hazardous fumes. WHS Regulation requires specific control measures to be implemented by the person with management or control of powered mobile plant at the workplace where it is reasonably practicable to do so.
The person with management or control of powered mobile plant at the workplace must manage the health and safety risks associated with the movement of traffic while construction work occurs. Effective risk management starts with a commitment to health and safety from those who manage the project, including company officers.
Managing work health and safety risks is an ongoing process. Risk management involves four steps:
- Identify hazards – find out what could cause harm.
- Assess risks – understand the nature of the harm that could be caused by the hazard, how serious the harm could be and the likelihood of it happening.
- Control risks – implement the most effective control measure that is reasonably practicable in the circumstances.
- Review – asses control measures to ensure they are working as planned.
Once the risks have been assessed, the next step is to control risks associated with the plant. These control measures are ranked from the highest level of protection and reliability to the lowest and are known as the hierarchy of control. A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) or a person with management or control (PWMC) must work through this hierarchy to choose the control (or controls) that most effectively eliminates or, where that is not reasonably practicable, minimises risks. A combination of higher and lower order risk control measures may be required to manage the risk associated with traffic management for construction work.
Risk control measures include:
Removing the hazard or hazardous work practices associated is the most effective way to control risks. For example, removing plant and people from the same work area by changing work processes. If this control measure is not possible, the next steps can be considered.
Substitute the plant for safer alternative plant. For example, consider replacing an item of mobile plant, which has a restricted field of vision, to one that has a clear field of vision.
Isolate workers from mobile plant. Examples include:
- using physical barriers
- organising the layout of the workplace to isolate workers and pedestrians from mobile plant
- creating exclusion zones that are enforced and clearly marked
- segregating the work processes through distance and time, for example allowing earthworks to finish before surveying begins.
This involves changing physical characteristics of the plant or work area to remove or reduce the risk. Examples may include:
- reversing cameras that provide clear visibility of the area behind the mobile plant
- proximity detection technology on mobile plant that allows for monitoring of ground crew at all times by the operator
- re-design of plant to allow for clear line of sight
- plant has a warning device, such as flashing light or reversing alarm, to warn pedestrians and workers nearby.
This includes procedures, signs and training to control the risk. Examples may include:
- developing and implementing a traffic management plan and work method statements for high risk construction work, including any construction work that is carried out in an area or adjacent to an area at a workplace where there is movement of powered mobile plant
- obey any speed limits and ensure there is adequate distance for a safe stop
- avoid rapid acceleration, deceleration and quick turns
- organising, co-ordinating and monitoring work processes to reduce interaction between workers and mobile plant by;
- implementing measures where workers have clear sight of mobile plant operating and operators of mobile plant have a clear line of sight in the direction of travel
- providing equipment such as two-way radios that allow for communication between mobile plant and ground crew
- thoroughly checking safety devices and audible working alarms of mobile plant prior to commencing any work
- ensuring worker training, experience and competency for the tasks being undertaken.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Any remaining risk must be minimised with suitable personal protective equipment. For example:
- the use of hard hats, steel cap boots and high visibility vest.
- Traffic management for construction or maintenance work Code of Practice 2008 (PDF, 0.8 MB)
- Managing the Risk of Plant in the Workplace Code of Practice 2021 (PDF, 1.57 MB)
- How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks Code of Practice 2021 (PDF, 1.02 MB)
- Working in and around mobile plant – film
- Traffic Management: Guide for construction work - Safe Work Australia
Support for people affected by a serious workplace incident
Have you been affected by a workplace fatality, illness or serious injury? For advice and support: