The death of two workers in separate heavy vehicle incidents and the hospitalisation of a 17-year old girl pinned under a utility reaffirm the importance of traffic control training and planning when working around motor vehicles.
Sydney security company MSS Security Pty Ltd (MSS) has been fined $150,000 by the NSW District Court following a 2011 incident that saw a 21-year-old male guard struck and killed by a cement truck. The truck was entering the Cement Australia manufacturing plant at Kandos in Central West NSW.
The guard was an employee of a company contracted to undertake work for MSS. MSS was found guilty of a breach of section 8(2) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 for failing to ensure the safety of a person who was not an employee.
SafeWork NSW had alleged there was a risk of the guard being struck by a vehicle as he was monitoring the entry of trucks into the site. MSS Security should have installed a no-go zone and required the use of radios for drivers and guards to communicate with each other, it said.
Student pinned under ute
Police, meanwhile, are investigating after a teenage girl, believed to be a student, was hit by a utility vehicle at Moss Vale TAFE in NSW on September 15, 2015.
Emergency services were called to the education facility on Kirkham Road, after reports a utility had run over a woman.
Officers from The Hume Local Area Command attended and found a 17-year-old girl trapped under a Toyota Hilux.
She was extracted before being airlifted to Liverpool Hospital in a serious but stable condition.
The driver, a 55-year-old man, was breath tested at the location with a negative result.
Investigators have been told that the girl and man were doing work on the utility, when the driver moved the Toyota forward hitting the girl.
Investigations are continuing, with the assistance of SafeWork NSW.
Worker crushed by front end loader
In March 2015, a Melbourne waste recycling company was convicted and fined $450,000 over the death of an employee who was struck by the bucket of a 20-tonne front end loader.
Resource Recovery Victoria Pty Ltd (RRV) pleaded guilty in the County Court of Victoria to two offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 for failing to provide a safe system of work and failing to provide information, instruction or training.
The court heard that RRV operated a waste recycling depot in Braeside in which dump trucks, heavy machinery, smaller vehicles and staff on foot all worked in close proximity to each other.
On 4 October 2013, an employee was driving a small sweeper vehicle in an open air shed used for dumping and sorting waste materials. Another employee was also in the shed, operating a 20-tonne Hitachi front end loader to move dirt and bricks up a small ramp into a hopper.
The court heard that after the front end loader emptied a load of material into the hopper, the operator reversed the machine back down the ramp and lowered its bucket to about one metre above ground level.
Just after the machine began to move forward, the operator felt a bump on the bucket. When he reversed, he saw his colleague slumped in the sweeper vehicle with fatal injuries.
The court was told that the depot was a busy workplace with trucks dumping materials, heavy excavators and front end loaders sorting and clearing materials, and staff on foot all working in close proximity to each other.
While new employees were given safety pamphlets to read, the court heard there was no written induction at the site and training was informal and “on the job”.
The court was also told that:
• There were no documented procedures for traffic management at the time of the incident. Instead, employees relied on common sense.
• There were no signs or lines in the yard area to determine where trucks, frontend loaders or the company’s street sweepers could or couldn’t go, nor were there alarms, lights or barriers.
• Training in relation to all the machines used in the depot was verbal.
• There had been a number of injuries and near misses involving employees and machines over recent years that had not been reported.
Executive director of health and safety Len Neist said the company had failed in its responsibilities to keep workers safe.
“A comprehensive – and communicated – traffic management plan is critical in workplaces where employees are required to work in close proximity to heavy machinery and vehicles. Simply hoping workers will stay away from heavy machinery is just not good enough,” Mr Neist said.
“All employers must ensure workers are properly inducted to their worksite and competently trained on how to use the equipment they’re operating. Expecting workers to just learn on the job is fraught with peril.
The tragic circumstances of this matter and the failings of RRV to keep its workers safe should serve as a reminder to all employers to put the upmost importance on workplace safety.”
AlertForce offers a range of training courses on traffic control. For details, go to http://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/traffic-management-course/
Further information on work health and safety for remote and isolated work is available at www.safework.nsw.gov.au or by calling 13 10 50.