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WorkSafe issues truck safety reminders following worker deaths

WorkSafe Victoria is reminding employers and workers of the hazards involved in working around trucks after four workers died in separate incidents in the past two months.

On July 11, a 29-year-old diesel mechanic died after he was run over while working underneath a B-double trailer in Werribee South.

This was the ninth workplace fatality involving loading, unloading or working around trucks in the past 12 months and the fifth this year:

  • On July 5, a 55-year-old worker died after he was crushed between a tip truck and front end loader while unloading grain pellets at a property in Cowwarr.
  • On June 22, a 64-year-old traffic controller died in Wahring after a truck trailer tipped on him while unloading gravel.
  • On May 25, a 54-year-old farm worker was crushed while attempting to unload a bulk seed bag into a semi-trailer at Crowlands.
  • A 60-year-old driver died in hospital on January 21 after suffering severe head injuries when he fell from the top of a truck at a grain depot in Maffra.

Another two workers died when they were struck by falling loads or equipment, a worker died when a truck rolled while loading a skip and another worker suffered fatal injuries after falling from a trailer.

Last week, two workers were seriously injured while loading hot wax onto a tanker in West Melbourne.

WorkSafe executive director health and safety Narelle Beer urged employers to check their safety processes and do everything they could to reduce hazards around loading and unloading trucks.

“Whether trucks are making deliveries to a construction site, on a farm, or manoeuvring around a depot, wherever trucks are operating employers must take all reasonable steps to maintain a safe workplace,” Beer said.

“The risks of becoming trapped, being crushed or falling from heights need to be taken very seriously. We’ve also seen a number of incidents where workplaces did not have adequate traffic management plans in place to reduce the risks from moving trucks, plant or nearby traffic, resulting in serious injuries.”

WorkSafe says it will not hesitate to prosecute those that fail to provide a safe workplace and penalties include significant fines, and potentially jail.

In May 2021, concrete manufacturer Dandy Premix Concrete Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $120,000 after a worker was run over by a truck and seriously injured at its Pakenham plant in 2018.

WorkSafe says it’s supporting employers to develop safe workplaces and systems through site visits and guidance, with further support available through free and confidential OHS Essentials program.

Recently WorkSafe has been targeting activity involving heavy vehicles across all industries. Inspectors are visiting workplaces focusing on activities around loading and unloading, including preventing falls from vehicles, objects falling, vehicle roll-aways and being hit by other vehicles, forklifts or animals.

WorkSafe says employers using or working around trucks should ensure:

  • A traffic management plan is in place for pedestrians and mobile plant and that it is reviewed and updated as appropriate.
  • An effective communication system between operators, transport contractors and ground staff is in place.
  • Machinery and vehicles are regularly inspected and maintained by a suitably qualified person.
  • Visibility issues are identified and controlled, particularly if lighting is poor.
  • Workers operating loading and unloading equipment have the appropriate high risk work licences, as required.
  • Signage is in place and barriers are erected where appropriate.
  • Drivers are aware of the proximity of powerlines.

WorkSafe information about managing the risks associated with tip trucks and trailers can be found here.

Safety information on unloading flat-bed truck trailers can be found here.

Information on transport, logistics and warehousing safety visits can be found here.

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