In July 2018, a worker was fatally crushed by a slow moving prime mover. The truck was undergoing modifications and was being moved under cover at the end of the work day. It is unclear at this stage how the worker came to be under the truck. Investigations are continuing.
This incident comes just weeks after a driver was run over and killed by his own truck when he fell from the running board while reversing with the engine idling in low gear; and a courier van driver sustained serious fractures when he was dragged under his own vehicle which rolled backwards while he was leaning in through the window.
Preventing a similar incident
Many drivers and other people have been killed or seriously injured after being hit, pinned or crushed by moving vehicles at workplaces. The risk of a vehicle running over a person 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 or under 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.
Ensure that the whereabouts of all workers within the work area is known, and that adequate exclusion zones are maintained.
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 48 incidents involving workers or others being crushed, struck or run-over by a truck moving uncontrolled. Twelve 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.
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.