Safety with tyre fitting
Any industry that uses heavy vehicles faces the risk of workers being injured while fitting tyres.
Problems frequently arise during work involving industrial type split rims, as used on earth moving machinery, trucks, forklifts and rural use vehicles, with both bolt together and lock ring type rims.
Over inflation is a common contributor, usually due to use of an unregulated compressed air supply; in other words, using an air outlet on a workshop or shed compressor without a pressure regulator and pressure gauge, or bypassing the air pressure regulator, and/or inflating the tyre/tube higher than the manufacturer's recommendations.
Some other factors which may contribute to an injury include:
- mismatching of split rim assemblies (involving all the elements of a rim including the lock rings)
- retainers not being reassembled as matching sets when more than one rim is being refitted with new tyres
- rims being fitted with a new tyre/tube when they are worn, corroded or damaged beyond their serviceable life (according to manufacturers' standards and recommendations).
Workers have been seriously injured by blasted parts of the tyre/rim assembly or by the force of the sudden release of air pressure which has thrown them to the hard surface floor. In some cases this has caused permanent damage to hearing and eyesight.
Tyre pyrolysis can also cause a tyre to fail. This happens when a tyre has been damaged internally after the vehicle has had contact with electrical power lines. In many cases the tyre damage cannot be detected by visual inspection alone, and the tyres explode many hours or days after the contact has occurred.
A basic preventative measure is to use a remote tyre filling hose fitted with a pressure gauge when inflating tyres. This allows the tyre fitter to stand at a safe distance out of the danger zone while monitoring the tyre inflation pressure.
More information is at worksafe.qld.gov.au and WorkCover NSW has a short film, Split rims and multi-piece wheels.