This webinar hosted by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland will provide background on the current safely immobilising heavy vehicles and trailers campaign running from July to December 2016.
A number of Queensland workers have been seriously injured or killed from a heavy vehicle or trailer not being effectively immobilised.
This webinar covers:
- the history and severity of this issue
- WHSQ's campaign and its approach to help workplaces
- known risks and suggested control measures
- resources available for the transport industry.
Download a copy of this webinar (ZIP/MP4, 9 MB)
Office of Industrial Relations
Safe systems to immobilise heavy vehicles and trailers
Presented on: 14 September 2016
Presented by: Suzanne Johnson, Manager Manufacturing, Transport and Logistics Group and Grant Phillips, Senior Project Officer
Welcome everyone to today's webinar about safely immobilising heavy vehicles and trailers. My name's Suzanne Johnson. I'm the Manager of the Manufacturing Transport and Logistics Team from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and I'm going to be facilitating today's session.
Hopefully by now you've settled in, you've got your lunch warmed up and a cup of tea and just sit back and enjoy. Hopefully we'll be able to answer a few questions as we go along.
The webinar will focus today on events leading up to a campaign that we're currently delivering in Queensland on this very issue. We anticipate that the session will go for approximately 30 minutes but we've tied in some time for questions and comments. So we really welcome anything you want to type in as we go along.
What we're covering today is a bit of background to the campaign that's now running this year, what we've done also so far as a regulator around the awareness building on the issues since late 2014 and also our current approach to the visits that our inspectors are currently running.
As well as that we're going to cover off on some of the known risks and suggested controls that we know about that industry has talked to us about and some suggested control measures to prevent vehicle and trailers crushing or hitting workers, the various types of resources that we have available for the industry and as I mentioned, we will try and answer a few questions during the webinar. But please be aware if any questions we can't get to today we'll certainly be responding to them in the following week after we've gone to there.
So with no further delay I'd like to now introduce you to Grant Phillips who's our presenter today for today's webinar. Grant has been working with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland for over 16 years. He doesn't look a day over the day he started. He's been in a variety of roles including electrical licensing, compliance, equipment safety and policy but for the last five years he's been working with the Manufacturing, Transport and Logistics Strategy team as a Senior Project Officer. Grant's been the lead on the research and development and management of this current state wide campaign.
I'll now hand over to Grant to get started.
Alright. Hello everyone and welcome. So I'll start with a bit of the background about this issue.
In 2014 Workplace Health and Safety Queensland began a review of fatal workplace incidents where a worker or trailer crushed or hit a worker.
We identified 13 fatalities between 2012 and 2014 from our Notified Fatality Register.
So of those we did some research and a common theme emerged for six of those 13 fatalities. Basically it looks like they resulted from a failure to effectively immobilise the vehicle. So in those particular instances, if the brake had been engaged or the vehicle immobilised in another way, the fatalities may have been prevented. The remaining fatalities were a mixture of maintenance, procedural and exclusion zone issues resulting in a worker being hit or crushed.
Grant I know when we were looking at those fatalities, some of them really strike out at you and one for me was the issue where a 25 year old worker forgot to engage his hand brake and actually chased the truck down the hill and tried to get back in the vehicle. That resulted in him not going home safely. It's just something that really resonates.
Yeah. It's an ongoing issue. They seem to be happening quite regularly so hence why this issue has been brought forward by the Regulator.
So just some further background. After this research into the fatalities and a subsequent report, a state wide Safety Alert was released throughout Queensland. Basically this alert stated that the contributing factors in a number of these incidents included workers being under or in the vehicle's path, unsafe systems of work such as poor traffic management, not conducting a risk assessment for working on the vehicle and simply a failure to immobilise the vehicle itself.
We just had a question come in Grant.
Q: Is this alert still available for the public to read?
Definitely. I think they stay on there indefinitely. So it's on our web page. If you Google 'heavy vehicles and trailers crushing workers' or 'Queensland safety alerts' they should come up as the first things on Google.
Alright, so just continuing on that Safety Alert. The main contributing factors on failing to immobilise which is just one of the key areas that had the most fatalities. Basically it was the handbrake of the heavy vehicle was not applied. The wheels for the heavy vehicle or trailer were not immobilised. So the wheels weren't chocked and components of the heavy vehicle or trailer were not restrained or adequately supported, or the brakes simply malfunctioned and it just rolled over the worker.
So a safety alert is one way to increase the awareness about this issue. But because of the ongoing injuries and with numerous fatalities since we looked at those original fatalities in 2012 and 2014, we really need to spread out the message much, much further.
So we began contacting industry publications about the safety alert and the risks. Soon after in October 2014 we noticed industry websites carrying the content, as you can see on the slide there. So that's the Owner Driver Magazine.
Soon after other publications started to pick up on the content from the first round of published editorial. So there was mention in Big Rigs printed newspaper which has a circulation of 26,000. So these publications have a much greater reach than us alone.
So from 2014 to early 2015 we found that reporting on this started to grow. So eventually information was published on 17 industry websites, mentioned in social media about seven times, through printed publications and three other regulators published information about this.
So that also comprised of the Northern Territory WorkSafe, WorkCover Queensland, Victorian WorkCover Authority.
Now since then there has been a number of different approaches undertaken which were researching the risks and solutions which I'll get into a little bit later, creating guidance content about the issue for industry. So we tried to make as much information available on the web so that if you search for the topic it shows up on Google first which the first full page does.
So what we were going to do after this, so we began asking a variety of transport operators what they were doing to manage these risks. One business identified the handbrake alarm system as one way to reduce this risk.
So as you can see on the slide there a handbrake alarm is designed to sound the truck's horn when the door is opened without the handbrake being applied. That gets the attention of both the driver and people in the vicinity of the truck. To fix the handbrake alarm system a qualified mechanic has to access the park brake switch via the dashboard. This solution was relatively quick and cheap to retrofit. So $200 per vehicle.
Someone's just mentioned and I think we've also heard of this issue that mechanics and drivers can disable the handbrake alarm because they feel that it's annoying or for whatever reason they're disengaging it. Can you comment on that?
Yeah, that's an interesting one. The fact that the alarms are going off is a problem in itself. So that basically means that drivers are not using their handbrake. So that gives you a good indication that there is a problem. So if an incident did occur and it was found that a workshop or driver had disabled the handbrake alarm and that resulted in an incident that could be a problem in regards to an investigation. So management really needs to look at that issue. We know it can be a problem but it really needs to be looked at.
So we had some other businesses who created solutions to address the risks and that was associated with working under heavy vehicles. These guys purchased a heavy duty four post hydraulic truck lift. We understand that that was costly to install but the business recognised the safety and productivity benefits outweigh the cost. So, because of that they also installed smaller lifts for their other vehicles in their fleet.
They also applied more of an administrative control. So they used a lock and tag out procedure to effectively immobilise the vehicle. That basically prevented unexpected startup and would avoid rolling and uncontrolled movement.
So this procedure included a handbrake lockout process to prevent workers disengaging the handbrake, the ignition key was to be removed and secured in the mechanic's personal lock box and as always, wheel chocks are to be placed on both sides of a wheel so that it remains in contact with the ground.
So unfortunately during 2015 and 2016 there have been ongoing incidents which are still occurring. So we have two more serious recent cases where a fatality in 2015, a worker was crushed by a trailer combination which rolled while he was attempting to repair an air line. The other incident was where a driver was crushed by his own truck in 2016 and we've also noted that there have been a number of incidents where trucks or trailers have caused significant property damage as you can see in this slide.
So basically the driver in this slide wasn't in the truck when the semi trailer crossed a very busy road and crashed into the side of a building. The crash was on Channel 9, they had their helicopter out, and was also mentioned in the Courier Mail and many other news sites. The potential for injury and death was quite high in that one.
So what are we doing? As a result of the ongoing injuries, deaths and property damage Workplace Health and Safety Queensland inspectors are now conducting on site workplace visits looking at trucks and trailers. So this has already started which was in August and will finish at the end of 2016. The inspectors will be looking at the risks, introducing businesses to the problem and trying to improve the general understanding of the industry.
So how do the inspectors conduct their visit? Well basically they're using a checklist audit style approach. So the first step will be for the inspector to walk around a workplace and identify any potential risks in the four target activities listed on this slide.
Workplace Health and Safety inspectors will also observe and ask questions at the workplace and complete the tool.
Grant we've just had a question and I guess it's something that's not uncommon is people are interested to know how the inspectors are choosing the workplaces they visit and how we're targeting that. Can you comment to that?
Basically since a truck is considered a workplace, so inspectors will be visiting any workplace where there are trucks and that could include manufacturing sites, distribution centres, construction sites, depots and even retail sites.
I suppose just as a comment also I was going to suggest as always, if anyone is interested in having an inspector come out to advise or consult with them, that's always available and you're encouraged to contact us through the Infoline number.
Yep, that's great.
The inspectors will be using the checklist approach basically to identify, so the high, moderate and controlled risk for each of those four activities that we identified earlier. Basically these tools will be later evaluated by us to get a snapshot of the industry's high risk areas and their current progress in managing these risks. That basically will help us inform the next phase of this project which will include more targeted workplace visits, additional industry case studies, an additional film and a comprehensive campaign report for industry on the results of the assessments. It will also have input into our Safer Design Project.
So if we see any good design out there while they're doing a visit, the inspectors will send that information to us and we feed that into that project.
Just a reminder we have got some information at the end of the webinar but there is already guidance, we have case studies and a film in our campaign page on the website. So I encourage industry to take a look at that.
So we've just got a question which is basically:
Q: Are we covering people being killed by the load while it's being unloaded, so especially pipes and bundles of timber?
That's probably out of the scope of the campaign in this instance. We have run a safe handling when securing loads campaign. So there is material about how to safely load but you'd probably be looking at other guidance. Suzanne are you aware of the guidance for that?
I think that's also a mixture of the risk of just pedestrian movement and on site traffic management as well. They're a combined issue around having to look and manage the risk of people in line of fire for unloading. We have had a recent incident come through related to that very issue. So, it's a good point.
Yeah. I can look into that and provide an answer via email.
Okay, I might continue.
So back to the checklist tool.
I've passed that. Okay, alright.
So now I'm onto some of the risks that we've seen, so during the research and being out on site in those four activity areas. We'll also include some of the suggestions on how industry has been managing these.
Just a note. I won't be going into very great detail about the suggested controls, just due to the length of this webinar, however as mentioned before by Suzanne there are lots of resources available on our Safely Immobilising campaign page.
So during our investigations we found that a lot of the risks are fairly obvious and are easy to manage. However the result of not managing these risks can be catastrophic.
So some things we have seen around not safely immobilising a truck included simply a driver parking the truck, getting out and not using the braking system.
In addition drivers not knowing how to safely immobilise the truck on the road when off site and repairs being done on the truck without using any safety equipment to prevent it moving. So again, not using wheel chocks which are quite simple.
So what we have seen from industry to try and reduce these risks included what we've talked about before which is installing a handbrake warning system. As you know these can be easily retrofitted to alert the driver when the handbrake has not been applied. Also when parked on the roadside and depots or heavy vehicle stopping bays, drivers should know that the handbrake is always applied before getting out of the truck.
Just another couple of questions Grant. We've had a question around:
Q: Is the checklist here available so that we might do a self assessment?
I think the tool should be uploaded onto the landing page for the campaign. Otherwise I can send it through. The tool is primarily designed to identify gaps in our understanding of what current industry practices are. So it will have a limited benefit to use at your workplace but it might help identify a bunch of things that you may not have thought about.
Okay, so in saying what I said before about drivers just using the handbrake, many workers still rely on their drivers using the braking system before they get out. But we have noticed that even experienced workers sometimes are easily distracted. So human error has to be considered. So not using the hand braking system is a foreseeable risk and businesses really need to consider that. So we found that coroner's reports for previous incidences report towards more higher order design controls such as braking system alarms.
So if your current method of safely immobilising a vehicle is simply to rely on your worker to always use the handbrake we would definitely encourage you to reconsider that approach.
So we do have an example of that. Recently the Brisbane City Council purchased a bunch of new asphalt trucks. Even though a handbrake warning system is not a current Australian design rule and weren't standard on these vehicles, the Council considered the risk and had handbrake alarms installed in their new fleet.
We found out that this was a relatively small cost compared to the outright purchase of the vehicle itself which was $300. So when considering $300 for a vehicle and when looking at the potential human, financial and reputational cost as we've seen in previous slides when a crash goes on the news they believed it was worth that initial cost.
There's a couple more questions that have come through and some of them are interesting. One of them's about:
Q: Have we got any anecdotal data on actually leaving the vehicles running?
That's an interesting one because we are still just starting this campaign. Have you got any comment to that Grant?
I think during the visits from inspectors we might capture that sort of information. There is anecdotal comments that people are leaving their vehicles and leaving the key in. It could be running because they're getting in and out so many times. So it might be just easier to leave the vehicle on, jump out, do whatever they have to do and then hop back in.
When they're doing that they might also be leaving the handbrake off. So it just seems to be a thing that we've noticed with the handbrakes.
I think it comes back to that whole risk management really around what the business is doing and it's not something really as a Regulator we dictate. It's really look at your risks, identify, discuss that with your workers and have that conversation about how they're managing that risk.
Yeah. They should definitely consult with drivers and find out about how they're using their vehicles.
Another question is around:
Q: Are most incidents occurring while vehicles are being serviced?
That does occur we found and I'll actually get into working under heavy vehicles and trailers in the next few slides. So there are incidents occurring during regular maintenance and repair work where a worker or mechanic is under a vehicle. So there are incidents occurring and some of those fatalities from the 2012-14 were from that. So, yes.
So I might continue on.
So some of the controls that we've seen when drivers have been out on the road have included that they know what actions they need to take to immobilise their truck in the event of a breakdown. So even though this may be simple you might be surprised how many people aren't aware of what they need to do.
So obviously they would need to pull off at a safe point where possible, turn on their hazard lights, apply or set the park brake or full parking system, mark the area with portable warning triangles or something similar and definitely use wheel chocks. Keep them in the vehicle if possible.
So now we're onto working under trucks or trailers which relates back to the question before.
Some of the factors that we have seen which can increase the risks from working under trucks or trailers are basically comprised of workers being under a truck or trailer that isn't supported safely. So using an unrated jack and no axel stands.
So there is an example of this. In 2014 a worker died in a workshop from his injuries when the truck just fell on him. So the front of the truck was raised with a hydraulic jack and the worker was lying on a trolley at the rear. The parking brake had been disabled. So because the rear wheels had not been chocked, the truck rolled back and trapped the worker. So that's a catastrophic incident right there.
Other risks can include that the person working under the truck hasn't removed the ignition key. So we've had incidents where another driver or worker has got into the vehicle not realising that someone was underneath. Also workers carrying out repairs on a truck without the appropriate training and don't have the necessary tools and equipment or the truck is being worked on an unsafe surface such as sloping surfaces. They're pretty bad for that.
So some examples we saw from industry to reduce the risks were workers using a suitable lifting device such as a hydraulic or pneumatic lift and the weight rating is clearly displayed. Also using vehicle hoists that have been installed in line with the host manufacturer's specifications.
Where possible the person working around or beneath the vehicle knows that they need to remove the ignition key and keep that with them and that the vehicle or equipment being worked on has been locked out, so in that previous slide that I talked about earlier.
In addition to this workers should ensure the vehicle is safely supported before working underneath it. So not just an unrated jack. They would need to use a suitable and rated jack, axel stands and wheel chocks. The stands need to be on a hard surface and a level surface and correctly placed under support points of the heavy vehicle or trailer. Any remaining wheels should be chocked on the ground.
We also have some issues with maintenance pits. So if you can restrict the area to those, so use pit barriers to prevent falls and make sure the pit is clearly visible and provide a safe means of getting in and out.
We've noted that it's usually just safer to tow a vehicle to a workshop rather than attempting a roadside repair.
So just on the third one which is truck and trailer maintenance, so some factors we have seen that can add to the risks around trailer and truck maintenance was basically that the drivers were not aware on who to report to and how to report faults which seems quite simple.
Plus that there is no schedule or maintenance or proof that the truck and trailer has been repaired or maintained. So an example of that straightforward one is the structure and bodywork of the vehicle is in poor condition.
An example of a fatality for this occurred in 2013 and a worker died after receiving crush injuries when performing repairs on his heavy vehicle. So the vehicle was on a slope with the front wheels on ramps and the rear was believed to be chocked with house bricks which are probably not that effective. The shaft under the vehicle was faulty and it disconnected. The brakes of the vehicle failed and the vehicle's gears were not operational. It simply rolled over that worker.
So another serious incident.
So some examples we've seen from industry to control these risks or reduce the risk is that there is visual evidence that the truck and trailer has been suitably maintained. So evidence on the structure and body work. Again, that workers use props for additional vehicle support when removing heavy components and that there is visual evidence that the wheel jaw is regularly maintained.
In addition to this drivers and workers know that the truck and trailer faults need to be reported. So this is management's responsibility and it is documented and given to the repairer as soon as possible. Also mechanical competencies are verified and there are documents that reference the mechanic's signed release of that vehicle or trailer.
So on the final activity which we are looking at was some factors that we've seen which can increase the risks of coupling into coupling trailers included that the truck and trailer has been parked on an unsafe surface, so not a hard level surface, the worker does not conduct a visual and functional check, a tug test when coupling the trailer. Also one which we've heard anecdotally and we've noticed is there is no lighting either on site or hand held lighting available to use to look at the jaw.
In addition the worker who was doing this task has not been trained to do the procedure. So drivers and workshop mechanics don't have or cannot demonstrate competency to do this task.
Moving onto some of the controls and examples we've seen from industry to reduce these risks have included the truck has an alarm or system installed which notifies the worker that the trailer has not been coupled correctly and that a functional check is done to confirm that the trailer is coupled.
So basically workers need to connect everything up, check that the lights operate on the trailer, then conduct a visual test plus a tug test to see if the wheel jaws are engaged while the trailer brakes are on. So we've had a lot of anecdotal sort of comments about trailers being dropped at say like petrol stations or roundabouts when the jaws haven't coupled correctly.
In addition parking bays and site layout can help reduce the number of times that the trailers need to be coupled and decoupled. The parking facilities for heavy vehicles are not on the street and are on a hard and level surface.
So essentially that's my part of the webinar and I will hand it over to Suzanne and hopefully we have some more questions.
Look, we've got a few minutes if anyone has some additional questions.
There is one question that's come through that probably we may need to think about and respond offline, but I'll put it to the group and there may be a comment from those of you out there in cyberspace because it's probably understanding the question too. It's around:
Q: Can we force this onto transport companies that distribute our goods?
It's an interesting question. It's really about the supply chain influence and relationships with your supply chain. Actually I'll use the opportunity to do a little plug about an event that we've got coming up on the 10th of November because we recognise as a regulator and all the jurisdictions recognise the importance of supply chain and the influence supply chain has on safety.
As far as that question is what do you mean by forcing what onto? If it's about consultation and actually using the checklist and having that conversation.
I'm very aware that there's quite a few companies that work with their drivers and supply chain to talk about different hazards and work on and share that information. So probably really for me it's around that consultation and managing that relationship.
So we may need to have a little bit more detail about what you mean about this question for that person that's asked that.
Grant did you have anything you wanted to add?
Yeah. I think we just have to specify what element in that question you would like that would need to be forced on transport companies.
Yeah, because there is also that contractual arrangement sometimes.
We've got a comment here.
Q: There's been manufacturers developing these systems but they're not quite right, grease being the biggest issue.
So thanks for that comment.
Yeah, that is a known issue. I've heard of that before as well. So after market ones that get developed and installed, they've had problems with grease build up and then the alarm or sensors don't work.
I think it's a good idea for these things but I think they need to be designed in the vehicle from the start. So this is something that the manufacturers really need to look at. So I think that's the kind of information we would be feeding into the design project that we're looking at.
Just as an explanation around what that project is, we are very aware and we've had a lot of feedback from our road freight industry about retro fitting they're doing on vehicles. The safety alarm system is one example but there's other examples around access, egress and handles and lights, some post supply retro fitting that organisations are doing. So it is something that we are starting to capture and hope to influence the supply chain on.
We've got another question here. I'll just have a look and absorb it while I read it out. It's:
Q: In relation to light trucks which are fitted with mechanical park brake, the park brake warning buzzer will not be on if the park brake is partially engaged. What is your suggestion to overcome this situation?
That's interesting. I actually haven't heard of that before but that's a valid question. I reckon I could probably just have a look and just find out what the – yeah, light trucks.
Light trucks, okay.
Yep. So I might have to do a little bit of research, then I can just email a response back.
Because some of these things are actually an engineering issue and it's something that we're very mindful of that ADR requirements don't encompass a lot of safety features for workers. Simple things such as what step height to have into the cabin and handbrake alarms are not a requirement.
So that's certainly another point. We've got another comment here:
Q: Do you have any data in relation to light vehicles and trailer decoupling?
No. Yeah, I don't.
The coupling and decoupling element was added after we had a spate of comments from our transport safety networks, from inspectors, from industry representatives, the Transport Workers Union. So we added it and what we'll find out when the inspectors go out, is because they're doing a gap analysis with the tool, hopefully we might capture a little bit of that information.
I'm not sure. If anyone wants to comment on that if you've seen that happen, please write it in the comments. But that's something we're looking at a bit further.
I think the thing is too, it's light vehicle and we haven't got a focus particularly on light vehicles at the moment, I don't believe. It's about raising awareness at the moment.
We've got a comment I think really that's about:
Q: Updating prestart forms to include isolation checks and tug tests along with constant site audits.
So I think that's a really good comment that someone's sent in.
That's a good comment. Yes, I'd agree with that.
Q: When chocking wheels on trailers, once disconnected is there a suggested number of chocks required?
Well in most instances I think the back two, but depending on where you're lifting it, obviously behind, put it on the wheel where it's going to roll. Quite often it's been two, depending.
But we advise actually putting proper chocks on either side. Some people use planks of wood. They're not as effective obviously as a properly designed rubberised chock. So we'd advise on both sides of the wheel.
I think that's another good one that's just around raising awareness and seeing what industry practice is on that very issue because these are all things that we're going to have a little bit more information on, but once again it's what the perceived risk is and how people are going to best manage that.
Have we got time for maybe one or two more?
I know that I probably don't want to name brands, so I might just say:
Q: I know that some heavier trucks already have an alarm fitted. If you open the door without the park brake on an alarm will sound with the engine running. So it's just an FYI. We run five of these types of trucks.
So yeah, that's good feedback and comment from that person. Thank you.
I'll just give you one more minute for any possible other questions.
We've got one here.
Q: What obligation does a business have when accepting deliveries from multiple transport companies?
There's the chain of responsibility. Suzanne do you want to?
Yeah, do I want to comment? Can I just look at the question again there Sarah?
So the obligation you have, I guess that is a really good one that National Heavy Vehicle Regulator are probably the best positioned to comment but I know from previous forums with them and advice from them is that everyone's in that chain of responsibility. I know as a manufacturer even if you're loading on a vehicle that's already got deliveries from other sites there's still responsibility for you to make sure that that is done safely.
So it might be a good point that we will answer out of session as well. So apologies if I haven't really responded to that as clearly as I could and there might be someone from out there in cyber space that would like to comment from your experience, but there is certainly an obligation.
I think we probably might wind up.
So just in finishing off our webinar today, we'll just note that we'll send out the details for you all. All of you that have registered will receive the actual hard copy of the webinar and when we eventually get it on the website which could be in two or three, four weeks, we'll send you the link so that you've got that captured if you'd like to share that with anyone else.
We'd also encourage you to go to our website, watch the short film that's just on the webpage at the moment. There's a three and half minute film that covers this topic.
I also encourage you to the use the Safe Immobilising Tool that we've talked about today. It's very simple and go ahead and try that.
I think then it's just really to thank you all very much for hanging in there and participating. We will send you a survey for feedback via email as soon as possible which we'll be seeking your comments and suggestions for any future webinars.
Once again thank you and hope to you see you at our next Safety Network Meeting or webinar and come and send us an email if you have any other comments.
Yep. So thanks everyone for attending.
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