Archive, Industry News

Fatality spurs WorkSafe shipping container warning

Workplaces warned to minimise risks while inspecting and unloading


Safety watchdog WorkSafe Victoria issues a reminder about the dangers associated with unpacking shipping containers after a recent fatality involving an employee crushed by truck body panels.

An incident report documents the circumstances of a stack of 3.6-tonne panels falling as they were being unloaded from a shipping container.

The production manager was inside the container at a truck body manufacturer when the panels crushed him against the wall.

“There have been a number of serious crushing incidents where toppling slabs, panels or other objects have trapped a person against the floor or wall of a shipping container or other structure,” WorkSafe notes in the safety alert.

“These have resulted in fatalities, amputations and musculoskeletal injuries affecting the trunk, back, shoulders and arms.”

WorkSafe recently warned on using vehicles with stabilising arms or outriggers

It notes risks can increase due to:

  • high or sudden forces as a result of moving loads
  • panels, slabs or objects ‘toppling’ (falling from vertical), often as a consequence of an object moving more than expected or in an unintended way
  • inappropriate packing of shipping containers
  • incorrect use of plant, such as overloading forklifts and using lifting attachments not specifically designed for the task
  • activities carried out within the drop zone of an object that is not restrained, or where there is potential for restraints to fail
  • mass, speed and force applied is underestimated where an object is moved by a crane or forklift

Worksafe recommends control risks when inspecting or unloading a container:

  • ensure the container is sitting level to reduce the likelihood of panels, slabs or other objects not standing vertically
  • before opening any container, check the outside for any damage that may indicate the load has shifted
  • before panels, slabs or objects are released from any transport restraints, ensure that no person is in the drop zone at any time
  • ensure that lifting gear to be used with a crane, such as shackles, cables and clamps, is regularly checked by a competent or licensed person in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions
  • use a forklift attachment that has a footplate and side grabs in order to prevent crates from falling to one side
  • ensure that a forklift being used has the appropriate load rating for all fitted attachments and is being used as intended
  • ensure that any engineering controls, for example additional load restraints, are introduced from outside the drop zone

WorkSafe reports five workplace deaths in Victoria in 2020, two more than this time last year.

Another truck-related workplace death recently involved a truck driver being run over at a truck depot at Delacombe in Ballarat on Tuesday.

The 61-year-old died while being transported to hospital following an incident involving a truck and trailer at the depot.

WorkSafe is also investigating that event.


Previous ArticleNext Article
Send this to a friend