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Worker fatally crushed after being hit by moving vehicle

In August 2021, a worker was fatally injured when he was crushed between his truck and a concrete column. Early investigations indicate he had positioned the truck in the loading dock to wash the back out and clean it. It appears a timber pallet was used as a wheel chock to prevent the truck rolling. The driver was seen to go behind the truck where it is reasonably believed he was repositioning the pallet, when the truck rolled back and trapped him.

Safety issues

There have been a number of incidents in Queensland where transport industry workers have been seriously injured or killed because a vehicle hasn't been effectively immobilised while work or maintenance is being undertaken.

Trucks generally pose a number of risks to operators or other people nearby, including:

  • the vehicle colliding or contacting people or objects such as other vehicles or plant and energised powerlines
  • the vehicle moving in an uncontrolled or unexpected manner
  • the vehicle overturning
  • objects falling on the operator
  • the operator being ejected from the vehicle.

You can manage these risks by implementing appropriate control measures.

Ways to manage health and safety

Taking steps to manage risks is a condition of doing business in Queensland. Effective risk management starts with a commitment to health and safety from those who manage the business. If an incident occurs, you'll need to show the regulator that you’ve used an effective risk management process. This responsibility is covered by your primary duty of care in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Use the hierarchy of controls to help decide how to eliminate and reduce risks in your place of work. The hierarchy of controls ranks types of control methods from the highest level of protection and reliability to the lowest. It’s a step-by-step approach to eliminating or reducing risks. You must work through the hierarchy of controls when managing risks, with the aim of eliminating the hazard, which is the most effective control.

Possible control measures to prevent similar incidents

The person conducting the business or undertaking (PCBU) must manage risks associated with immobilising vehicles.

Working on, under or around trucks and trailers can lead to severe crush injuries if you don't securely immobilise them. Make sure your workers are using suitable controls to immobilise their trucks before working on them:

  • Remove the ignition key while working on trucks.
  • Using components to support a vehicle, such as suitable load rated stands and lifting devices which should only be used and maintained according to the manufacturer's specifications and instructions.
  • Work in a controlled environment where possible and restrict access to the immediate work area.
  • Installing a handbrake warning system to alert drivers when the handbrake has not been applied:
    • Handbrake warning systems are a good way to remind drivers to apply the handbrake before they get out, wherever they are.
    • Before making any modifications to your vehicle, the competent person conducting any changes should consult with the manufacturer of the vehicle first.
    • Ensure that any modifications are compliant with the relevant Australian Design Rules (ADRs) and design of the vehicle.
  • Chocking wheels on both sides of the vehicle using serviceable purpose-built chocks.
  • Using a flat even surface that can bear the general load of the vehicle and the point load of any equipment such as jacks/lifting equipment.
  • Developing safe work procedures for:
    • maintenance and repair tasks in line with the manufacturer's recommendations
    • conducting vehicle inspections
    • use of stands, jacks, chocks or other systems for immobilising vehicles
    • a lock and tag out process to effectively immobilise vehicles.
  • Providing workers with instruction, training and supervision on safe work procedures.
  • Ensuing worker training, experience and competency aligns with the requirements and complexity of the task.
  • Exclusion zones around vehicles (ensuring they are clearly marked and enforced).

The control measures you put in place should be reviewed regularly to ensure they are effective.

More information

Support for people affected by a serious workplace incident

For advice and support: