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Fatalities spur truck immobilisation safety alert

SafeWork NSW renews awareness campaign to combat avoidable incidents


Work safety authority SafeWork NSW has issued a safety alert for heavy vehicle operators to effectively immobilise their trucks and trailers following a spate of fatalities this year.

It had previously released three incident reports detailing occurrences where workers had died after being crushed by a truck.

Particularly to the avoidable nature of such accidents, SafeWork NSW has heightened its efforts in this space.

Read more on the SafeWork NSW incident reports, here 

“Every year, we investigate many incidents involving workers being crushed when appropriate control measures were not implemented to effectively immobilise their vehicle,” it says.

“This safety alert reminds you that if you don’t effectively immobilise your heavy vehicle or trailer, you put yourself at risk of serious injury or death.”

It notes vehicles may be subject to uncontrolled movement when operators: perform repairs on the vehicle, including roadside; load and unload vehicles; couple and uncouple trucks and trailers, and park on an incline of uneven surface.

SafeWork advises that risk can be averted through adequate immobilisation, including:

  • parking the vehicle on level ground
  • applying the handbrake properly before getting out of your vehicle
  • knowing how to use safety features, such as handbrake warning systems
  • using wheel chocks
  • getting adequate training and supervision.

It recommends the further safety measures, including: 

  • Switch off your vehicle and apply the brakes before getting out
  • Get training on how to immobilise your vehicle
  • Install a handbrake warning system that alerts you if you forgot to apply the handbrake
  • Know what to do when your vehicle breaks down; learn traffic management protocols
  • Use a suitable jack, hydraulic hoist or vehicle pit when lifting your vehicle
  • Inspect and maintain your vehicle according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Know how to couple and uncouple your trailer safely
  • Before starting work, identify the hazards and assess the risks.

SafeWork NSW tells ATN unintentional vehicle movement is identified in the ‘Focus on Key Priority Areas’ contained in The Transport Work Health and Safety Sector Plan and that the recently issued safety alert highlights the importance of ensuring vehicles are effectively immobilised before conducting work in or around them.

“In the coming months, SafeWork NSW will be involved in a series of consultation workshops which focus on key priority areas such as traffic management, vehicle immobilisation and vehicle loading and unloading,” a spokesperson adds.

“These workshops represent a great opportunity for industry stakeholders to productively contribute to improving workplace safety outcomes across the transport supply chain. Following industry consultation SafeWork will be developing a field-based inspection program.”

It follows efforts from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) in raising awareness of its safe immobilising heavy vehicles and trailers campaign, vising hundreds of businesses to identify the causes of unsafe immobilisation and provide businesses with resources on how to manage these risks and to ensure compliance.

WorkSafe Victoria today confirmed it was investigating an incident – classified as a workplace death – where a driver died in the state’s south-east when he pulled over to check underneath his vehicle and suffering fatal injuries when it rolled over him.


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