Two fatalities within six weeks at a freight depot highlight the importance of traffic control planning and training.
Earlier this month (August, 2015), a collision between a truck and forklift at Crawfords Freightlines in Sandgate, NSW sparked a confrontation between two workers, with one killed in the fight that followed.
In July a maintenance worker died while at work for Crawfords after a tyre on a forklift he was repairing failed.
The company says it is working with regulatory authority WorkCover NSW and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) to improve safety at the yard.
A Crawfords spokesperson told AlertForce it was currently in the process of improving road markings and signage on site, in accordance with a Workcover NSW directive.
The earlier fatality, which involved a local tyre centre worker not employed by Crawfords, who died whilst carrying out maintenance on a Crawfords forklift, was the result of a “failure in procedures”, not a faulty tyre, the company said.
The man’s employer was issued with an improvement notice over the earlier incident in relation to training and instruction. No improvement notices were issued against Crawfords Freightlines in regard to the earlier incident, the spokesperson said.
TWU investigates yard safety
The TWU’s Newcastle secretary Mick Forbes, meantime, said the union was doing its own investigation of procedures and upgrades at the yard.
“Last year their (Crawfords’) timber exporting business was shut down by the EPA over the [alleged] improper use of the toxic fumigant methyl bromide,” Mr Forbes said.
“The last thing we want is another tragic incident involving transport workers, dangerous chemicals or explosives – we need the authorities to get in there and clean things up for the safety of the entire community,” Mr Forbes said.
Crawford’s Freightlines, meantime, has conducted an on-site inspection of its Sandgate head office with representatives from the union.
Crawfords managing director Peter Crawford said the company was committed
to strict workplace safety procedures in its loading and unloading areas.
“We reiterated that our company complies with relevant WHS Act and WHS Regulations as part of our day to day operations. For example, we undergo regular auditing by WorkCover NSW and our clients, including the Downer Group, Dyno Nobel and Orica, to ensure we meet the vigorous requirements needed to store and handle hazardous materials.”
Mr Crawford said the company was always working with WorkCover NSW to ensure best practice workplace regimes.
A WorkCover NSW spokesperson confirmed WorkCover issued one traffic management notice to Crawfords Freightlines in regards to the collision that lead to fight and subsequent fatality on August 4.
“The incident on 4 July involved a contractor. This was a different entity to Crawfords Freightlines,” its spokesperson confirmed.
WorkCover releases safety video
In an acknowledgement of the risks transport hubs pose to worker health and safety, WorkCover has released a new safety alert video addressing loading and unloading flatbed trucks and trailers.
The video establishes how an experienced truck driver fell two metres and sustained fatal injuries because fall protection was not in place.
The footage outlines a series of simple safety steps to prevent falls – number one being to remain on the ground during unloading and loading.
Executive director of WorkCover’s work health and safety division Peter Dunphy said there were a number of ways to do this, including pre-configuring the load or using load restraints.
“But if working from the ground is a no-go, then a safe way to access and work upon the trailer must be provided, and this can be anything from guard rails and work platforms to retractable ladders or steps with handrails.”
Mr Dunphy said the typical transport industry model involved several businesses, which often meant complex arrangements with loading and unloading freight.
Australia-wide, 15 transport workers died between 2003 and 2012 after falling from their trucks. Most trucks were flatbed types with no guard rails or other fall protection devices.
About 20% of injuries in NSW’s road freight transport industry are caused by falls, with almost 900 workers lodging workers compensation claims for fall-related injuries over two years prior to April 2014.
AlertForce provides traffic control training
AlertForce, meantime, is doing its bit to reduce transport-related injuries and fatalities through nationally qualified competency training in traffic control.
The training meets the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) nationally recognised competency qualification framework for all traffic control training, which was introduced on July 1, 2015
The introduction of a national framework is based on an Austroads research report Traffic Control at Worksites – Training and Accreditation, which recommends a set of standards, skill sets and units of competency for traffic controllers
The traffic controller qualification for workers who are required to setup traffic control guidance schemes (TCGS) in accordance with approved traffic management plans (ie, yellow card qualification), for example, assesses among other things the following knowledge and skills:
• Understand and make changes to a TCGS to suite the specific road environment
• Adapt behaviours to the work site
• Know the basic function of the TCGS
• Adapt to all WHS and operational requirements
• Follow organisational and legislative WHS policies and work procedures
• Use the site/location assessment, distinguish topographical landmarks and carry out authorised risk control
• Conduct an onsite check of a TCGS to identify any unexpected risks/hazards
• Able to interpret plans, that is, must be aware of the distance and measuring devices of the method
• Plan for emergencies that may arise.
For more details on AlertForce’s nationally recognised traffic control NSW training, go to http://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/nationally-recognised-traffic-control-training-nsw/
For WorkCover’s safety alert on loading flatbed trucks, go to http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/news/safety-alert/falls-from-flatbed-trucks-and-trailers-safety-alert
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