Safety when loading and unloading skip bins

WorkSafe is issuing an alert about the hazards and risks associated with lifting waste container skip loaders (skip bins) on and off trucks.
Safety alert published

Wednesday 08 Sep 2021

Industries and topics
  • Transport, logistics and warehousing
  • Waste and recycling

Background

A truck driver was fatally crushed by their truck while collecting a skip bin at a residential property. It is believed the truck rolled forward, crushing the driver against a brick wall.

In a separate incident, a worker was seriously injured while conducting work on hooklift equipment fitted to a truck.

Safety issues

There is a risk of incidents occurring while using skip bin loading equipment fitted to trucks.

The risk of a truck rolling or overturning increases if:

  • the truck is left in gear
  • the brakes are not engaged or not operational
  • the truck is parked on a slope

Risks associated with the operation of hooklifts, such as skip bins dislodging or becoming stuck while partially suspended, increase if:

  • locking devices that secure bins for transport are not maintained
  • mechanical components are in poor condition
  • trailer frames and bin rails are damaged or are not maintained

Recommended ways to control risks

  • Ensure the truck and skip bin loading equipment is fit for purpose to transport, load and unload the skip bin.
  • Identify all potential hazards before using the truck and loading or unloading skip bins onto or off the truck.
  • Conduct pre-operation inspections and tests (incorporating a written checklist and fault report).
  • Carry out any necessary repairs, ensuring that a suitably competent person is used.
  • Regularly inspect, test, service and maintain the truck and any attachments to manufacturer's specifications using competent persons, including the:
    • truck and trailer brakes, steering and oil levels
    • trailer locking devices, including any hydraulic locking systems and visual and audio alerts
    • mechanical and structural components of skip bin loading equipment, skip bins and bin rails

Note: If manufacturer's specifications (including safe use information that incorporates inspection and maintenance requirements) are not available, advice should be sought from a suitably competent person.

  • Install a parking brake alarm system to reduce the risk of the driver leaving the truck without the park-brake engaged – these systems are readily available and can be retrofitted to most trucks.
  • Ensure the driver and other persons involved in transporting, loading or unloading are suitably competent and have been provided with the necessary information, instruction and training to ensure the handbrake is applied prior to leaving the cab of the truck.
  • Regularly monitor, review, and if necessary, revise any risk control measures.

Other recommended ways to control risks of rolling

  • Park the truck on a level surface – avoid parking on slopes, uneven or soft ground.
  • Park away from walls, fences or other obstructions to avoid becoming crushed by the truck, another vehicle or the skip bin.
  • Use chocks where necessary on slopes.
  • Use stabilisers – keep braked rear wheels on the ground when on slopes. If the vehicle does not have all-wheel braking, flat plates should be fitted to the stabiliser legs.
  • Keep people who are not directly involved away from the work area, including setting up an exclusion zone around the truck when loading or unloading.

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 and their employees
  • so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain plant (eg trucks, hooklifts) that is safe and without risks to the health of employees and independent contractors and their employees
  • provide employees and independent contractors and their employees with the necessary information, instruction, training and supervision to enable them to do their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health
  • so far as is reasonably practicable, consult with employees, independent contractors and their employees, and health and safety representatives when identifying or assessing hazards or risks and making decisions about risk control measures
  • ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons other than employees are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the conduct of the employer's undertaking

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017, employers and self-employed persons must:

  • identify all hazards associated with the use of plant at the workplace, so far as is reasonably practicable
  • control risks associated with plant so far as is reasonably practicable in accordance with the plant hierarchy of control. For further information on the plant hierarchy of control see the WorkSafe Plant Compliance Code
  • ensure plant is inspected to the extent necessary to ensure that risks associated with its use are monitored

Note: VicRoads also has duties that may apply, for example driver competency and roadworthiness of vehicles. For more information: