In December 2018, a worker died when he was crushed by a steel pipe which fell off the back of a truck. The worker and two others were unloading two 12m steel pipes, each weighing 1.8 tonnes, one at a time with a forklift. After the ratchet straps were released, it appears one of the pipes rolled, striking the stanchions and causing them to fail. The pipe continued rolling and fell off the truck, landing on and crushing the worker’s chest and head.
In January 2019, workers were loading large pipe tees (a T-shaped pipe junction) weighing 500kg onto a trailer. The workers identified that the strapping of the tees onto timber pallets was not adequate for the size and weight of the load. One worker climbed onto the trailer to place additional strapping on one tee. While he was still on the trailer, a high reach forklift operator loaded another pipe tee onto the trailer. The tee slid forward off the forklift tines and struck him, knocking him off the trailer and continuing to fall off the trailer itself. He fell to the ground and fortunately the tee landed next to him without striking him.
Each year, 108 workers’ compensation claims are accepted for injuries to workers being struck by a falling object from a truck or trailer. Of these, 50 per cent involve a serious injury requiring five or more days off work.
Since 1 July 2013, there have been 158 notified events involving people being injured by falling objects from or relating to trucks. Four of these were fatal and 80 involved a serious injury requiring hospitalisation.
In the same period, we have issued ten statutory notices for issues involving people being injured by falling objects from or relating to trucks.
Prosecutions and compliance
In 2018, a timber company was fined $210,000 after a truck driver was crushed to death while delivering product to the company. Using a forklift, another worker was unloading from one side of the truck, with the driver out of view on the other side releasing a loading strap. The forklift dislodged a load of timber which fell and crushed the truck driver.