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Safely immobilising heavy vehicles and trailers

Workers frequently need to get in and out of heavy vehicles when out on the road, or work on or under a heavy vehicle or trailer to clean it, check for faults, and undertake servicing and repairs.

A number of Queensland workers have been seriously injured or killed due to a heavy vehicle or trailer not being effectively immobilised. Businesses should ensure that the risks to workers are controlled and they have a safe system of work including training for this type of work.

Immobilising heavy vehicles

Before getting out of their vehicle, or working on or around a heavy vehicle, workers need to ensure it is immobilised properly.

  • When parked on the roadside, at depots or heavy vehicle stopping bays, the handbrake should always be applied before getting out of the vehicle.
  • Handbrake warning systems can easily be retro-fitted to alert drivers when the handbrake has not been applied.
  • Make sure drivers know what actions they are required to take to immobilise their vehicle in the event of a breakdown i.e. pull off the road where possible, turn on hazard lights, apply (or set) the park brake, mark area with portable warning triangles (or similar), use (or set) wheels chocks.
  • Workers should not carry out repairs on their vehicle unless they have received appropriate training and have the necessary tools and equipment.
  • In some cases, such as drive line failure, it may be safer to tow the vehicle to a workshop than attempt a roadside repair.
  • Workers should use the handbrake and/or wheel chocks to immobilise the vehicle when working on the vehicle away from a workshop.

Learn more about safely immobilising heavy vehicles and trailers.

Working under heavy vehicles or trailers

Before undertaking work on a heavy vehicle or trailer, where there is a risk of it moving or dropping, workers should take the following precautions.

  • Ensure the vehicle is safely supported before working underneath it. For example, use a suitable jack, axle stands and wheel chocks, a suitable vehicle hoist, or an inspection pit.
  • Where possible, the person working around or beneath the vehicle should remove the ignition key and keep it with them.
  • Ensure stands are on a hard, level surface and are correctly placed under suitable support points of the heavy vehicle or trailer. Any wheels remaining on the ground should be chocked.
  • Use vehicle hoists that have been installed in line with the hoist manufacturers specifications.
  • Use props for additional vehicle support when removing heavy components.
  • When working in or near a pit, restrict access to the area, cover the pit or use barriers to prevent falls when not in use, make sure the pit is clearly visible, and provide a safe means of entry and exit.

Learn more about managing the risks of being hit or crushed by heavy vehicles and trailers.

Further information