In June 2018, an owner/operator truck driver was reversing his single deck truck up to a loading ramp to load cattle used in a rodeo as part of the local annual show. It appears he placed the truck in reverse and began to idle backwards – the gearing of the truck in reverse was sufficiently low that it did not require the driver to have his foot on the accelerator. He then opened the door and stood on the running boards of the truck holding on to the steering wheel to manoeuvre the truck while looking backwards to where he was going.
He fell from the running board of the truck and was fatally crushed under the front wheel as the truck continued to reverse itself.
Also in June 2018, a courier van driver sustained serious fractures when he was dragged under his vehicle. He had returned to the parked van to retrieve an item via the front window when it rolled backwards. It appears he was dragged under the vehicle while trying to stop it moving.
Both investigations are continuing.
Preventing a similar incident
There have been incidents where vehicle drivers and others have been killed or seriously injured after being hit, pinned or crushed by the uncontrolled movement of vehicles. The risk of a vehicle moving in an uncontrolled or unexpected manner must be managed by ensuring appropriate control measures are in place. Controls may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Before leaving a vehicle ensure it is stationary and out of gear with the hand-brake applied.
Do not climb onto a moving vehicle.
Do not allow any movement of the truck or vehicle unless there is someone at the driver’s seat who is able to receive aural or visual warnings and can immediately act to prevent harm (e.g. apply brakes or steer the truck).
When reversing, ensure the area around the vehicle is clear.
Always reverse with the aid of mirrors or a spotter.
The person conducting a business or undertaking should conduct a risk assessment of work practices, develop appropriate safe work systems, conduct appropriate training and ensure the system is enforced at the workplace.
Since 2012 there have been 47 incidents involving workers or others being crushed, struck or run-over by a truck moving uncontrolled. Eleven were fatal and 27 involved a serious injury. In the same period, 49 improvement notices and 25 prohibition notices have been issued for uncontrolled movement or rolling of trucks, semi-trailers, or prime-movers.
Since 2012, there have been 10 work-related deaths involving a person being run over by a vehicle or some other type of machinery. In the same period, 10 prohibition notices and eight improvement notices have been issued in relation to a person being run over by a vehicle or other type of machinery.
Each year there are around 130 accepted workers’ compensation claims involving a worker being struck or crushed by a truck. Of these claims, more than a third involve a serious injury and two are fatal.
Each year there are around 600 accepted workers’ compensation claims involving a worker injured by mobile plant. Of these claims, about 40 per cent involve a serious injury requiring five or more days off work, and two are fatal.
Prosecutions and compliance
In May 2017 a company was fined $60,000 and an individual $3,000 following the death of a worker who was run over by a truck and trailer. The worker was lying under the back of the trailer to check on bouncing that had occurred while driving. Moments later, the truck and trailer began moving backwards. The trailer wheels rolled over the worker, followed by the truck wheels.
In February 2017 a regional council was fined $170,000 following the death of a worker. The worker was killed after he was struck and run over by a reversing truck on a civil construction site.
In December 2016 a road freight transport company was fined $60,000 and a court ordered undertaking for two years with recognisance of $60,000 following the death of a worker who was run over by a trailer. The prime mover and trailer appeared to have trouble releasing its trailer brakes. The worker went to the rear of the trailer and attempted to release a trailer brake. When the vehicle began rolling backwards he tried to re-engage the maxi-brake, but was struck by the trailer wheels.
In June 2016 a company was fined $120,000, after a worker who was operating a six tonne mobile yard crane to perform load-shifting of steel product was killed. The worker was seen running alongside the crane which was travelling down a slope, uncontrolled, with no-one in the operator’s seat. He was either struck by the crane or tipped, then run over and killed. He was not licensed to operate this type of crane.