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Worker struck by truck body tray

In June 2022, a worker suffered serious facial and other injuries after being struck by a truck body tray that unexpectedly tipped towards him.

Initial enquires indicate he was preparing the truck body tray, which was on trestles, for spray painting inside a booth.

The worker was cleaning the top of a toolbox mounted on one side of the truck body tray and it appears the tray tipped and struck him. He subsequently fell on the concrete floor.

Investigations are continuing.

Safety issues

Performing manufacturing, maintenance or other related tasks such as spray painting and surface preparation on objects (plant or machinery) placed on trestles or stands can expose workers and others to the risk of serious injury due to unexpected or uncontrolled movement.

Other common hazards associated with spray painting and associated surface preparation activities include but not limited to:

  • hazardous chemicals - paints, solvents, adhesives, resins, rust removers and surface preparation products
  • plant (machinery and equipment) - spray booths, sanding and grinding equipment
  • hazardous manual tasks - lifting and pushing objects into place, handling objects that are being spray painted and awkward postures and forceful exertion when surfaces on vehicles are prepared
  • working at height - spray painting all objects.

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

Before commencing any work on an object such as a truck body tray that is placed on a stand or trestle, the risk of uncontrolled or unexpected movement must be managed. A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) has a duty to ensure workers and other people are not exposed to health and safety risks, including the safe use, handling, storage and transport of plant.

The person with management or control of the workplace has a duty to ensure plant is without risks to the health and safety of any person. That includes the safe use, handling and storage of both the equipment and system used to stabilise objects such as a truck body tray. PCBU’s need to ensure a risk assessment is completed and a safe system of work in place before any work is performed.

Effective control measures for spray painting, surface preparation and other related work activities associated with objects on a stand or trestle are often made up of a combination of controls. Some common risk control measures can include but are not limited to the following examples.

Ensuring the object, is adequately secured to prevent unexpected movement. This could include:

  • using props and blocks according to their design and ensuring they are free from any defects
  • using purpose designed and engineered support stands, jigs or cradles ensuring they can withstand the loads exerted onto them, including lateral loads.

Develop a safe system of work for spray painting, surface preparation and other related work activities that involve objects placed on a stand or trestle. This could include, but is not limited to:

  • consulting with the manufacturer, workers and others involved in the task to obtain feedback on support stands, jigs or cradles and associated work processes and safe work procedures
  • ensuring sufficient space for safe access to the object to be painted for any repair, preparation and painting tasks
  • providing a fall prevention device such as temporary work platforms (scaffolds or mobile fabricated platforms or any other platform that provides a working area designed to prevent a fall). In some cases, a combination of control measures may be necessary - using safety harnesses while working from an elevating work platform. Depending on the specific task and how it is carried out, step platforms (see Figure 1) should provide an improved level of fall protection over traditional step or single ladders as they include a small working platform and a partial handrail.

A step  platform can provide a stable work surface

Figure 1 A step platform can provide a stable work surface
Source: Managing the risk of falls at workplaces Code of Practice 2021

  • ensuring any support stands, jigs or cradles are inspected, maintained and repaired according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and specifications (these instructions should be included in a safe work procedure on how inspection and maintenance should be carried out)
  • develop safe work procedures that describe the task, identify the hazards and document how the task is to be performed to minimise any risks associated with surface preparation and other related activities
  • providing workers with instruction, training and supervision on safe work procedures (training should be provided to workers by a competent person with information, training and instruction provided in an easy-to-understand manner)
  • ensuring worker training, experience and competency aligns with the requirements and complexity of the task (workers must be trained and have the appropriate skills to carry out a particular task safely).

Any remaining risk must be minimised with suitable personal protective equipment (PPE). For example:

  • breathing protection, gloves, aprons and protective eyewear
  • safety footwear should be:
    • suitable for the type of work and environment
    • non-slip and heat and fire resistant.

Administrative control measures and PPE do not control the hazard at the source. They rely on human behaviour and supervision and used on their own tend to be the least effective in minimising risks. 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: