Road freight employee killed by reversing trailer at a depot

WorkSafe is issuing a reminder about the risks associated with driving heavy vehicles and moving around road freight depots.
Safety alert published

Thursday 19 Nov 2020

Industries and topics
  • Transport, logistics and warehousing

Background

A road freight employee recently died when they were directing a co-worker to reverse a truck and trailer into a shed. The employee stumbled and fell into the path of the trailer.

This is the second death this year from an employee being struck by a truck and trailer at a depot.

In other incidents this year, six drivers in road freight transport have sustained fatal injuries following single vehicle accidents, vehicle rollovers, or losing control of the vehicle.

Safety issues

Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of fatalities within the transport industry. This may occur due to speeding, drugs and alcohol, fatigue, in-vehicle distractions, adverse conditions, poor vehicle condition, and technology use.

Recommended ways to control risks

Where an employee is using a vehicle to perform work, the vehicle is considered to be a workplace. As a result, employers must identify and control any risks to health or safety associated with the use of the vehicle.

Employers and self-employed persons should ensure:

  • traffic management systems are in place and are followed
  • people, vehicles, and mobile plant are separated
  • fatigue risks are controlled and employees are fit for work
  • vehicle maintenance schedules are in place and followed
  • systems are in place in depots to identify and remove slip, trip and fall hazards (for example oil leaks, pooled water, rubbish or debris)

Legal Duties

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, employers must so far as is reasonably practicable:

  • provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees and independent contractors
  • provide or maintain plant or systems of work that are safe and without risks to health
  • provide employees with the necessary information, instruction, training or supervision to enable them to do their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health

Employers may also have duties under the National Heavy Vehicle Laws, including in relation to fatigue management. These laws are in effect in Victoria as part of a nationally consistent approach.