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Workers crushed to death by vehicles on rural properties

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is investigating several recent rural vehicle incidents, the two most recent of which were fatal and involved tractors at Willow Vale and an Alligator Creek property.

At Willow Vale, a man was crushed by a tractor after it rolled down an embankment while he was slashing. At Alligator Creek, a man was crushed when the tractor he was trying to start from the ground lurched forward.

These two deaths come on the back of another fatal tractor incident in May, when a worker was crushed to death by a tractor. Investigations indicate the man was operating the tractor (with slasher attachment) by himself and it appears he either got off or fell from the tractor while it was moving, and it struck him.

Also in May, a station hand was trapped between the ute he’d been driving and an access gate. Investigations found he was checking water bores when he arrived at an access gate. He put the four-wheel drive into low range before exiting the vehicle to open the gate but as it crept forward, it fatally pinned him against the gate.

Unsafe vehicle immobilisation regularly causes fatalities, serious injuries and significant property damage when the vehicles roll away or move unintentionally.

The risk of a vehicle moving in an uncontrolled or unexpected manner must be managed by ensuring appropriate control measures are in place:

  • Before leaving a vehicle, ensure it’s stationary and out of gear with the park-brake applied so it cannot roll.
  • Do not climb onto a moving vehicle.
  • Do not allow any movement of the vehicle unless someone is driving and able to hear or see warnings and can immediately act to prevent harm (by applying the brakes or steering the vehicle).
  • When reversing, ensure the area around the vehicle is clear and always reverse using mirrors or a spotter.

You must ensure vehicles and trailers are safely immobilised, especially when workers get out of, or are near, under or on their vehicle.

Further information

Read more and download resources from the Safely immobilising vehicles campaign.

Check out the story of Safety Advocate Garry Nichols who lost a leg – and eventually his farm through the subsequent financial hardship – after his tractor rolled over. Between a rock and a hard place – Garry's story shows how a short moment of complacency in the workplace can lead to severe physical, emotional and financial problems.