WHSQ in pallet unloading injury caution

Truck driver injury from falling materials prompts incident alert

WHSQ in pallet unloading injury caution
Operators are asked to minimise unloading risks


Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) urges operators to minimise the risk of materials falling off pallets following a truck driver injury.

The workplace safety authority issues an incident alert detailing a November 2019 incident of a truck driver sustaining serious lacerations to his leg when struck by building materials which had fallen off a pallet.

While WHSQ notes the findings are not yet confirmed and investigations are continuing into the exact cause, early indications are the driver was on his flatbed truck while a forklift unloaded pallets of building materials when a pallet of material toppled onto his leg, causing significant injuries.

It says operators must ensure the provision and maintenance of a safe system of work when loading and unloading trucks.

WHSQ recently warned on tyre explosion dangers

"Loading and unloading building materials on construction sites can be hazardous, depending on the type of material being handled, nature of the task, and the environmental conditions," the incident alert states.

"The site location may also present other unique risks, including varying terrain and people working in the vicinity of the load/unload area.

"In situations where multiple types of materials are delivered to site on the same pallet (for example boxes of tiles, ducting, bags of cement), items can become unstable during transportation.

"Individual items should be secured appropriately to prevent the load or part of the load from becoming unstable and falling off during the loading/unloading operation."

If completely eradicating a hazard is not reasonable, WHSQ recommends minimising the risk by one or a combination of the following:

• Elimination - the most effective control measure is to remove the hazard or hazardous work practice associated with the unloading of construction materials.

• Isolation – separate people from mobile plant using barriers, fences or other similar options. Where possible, workers should not access the loading/receiving area when forklifts or other mobile plant are operating during the load/unload process.

• Engineering controls - Ensure mobile plant and any attachments are used in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications and suitable for the load being lifted. Where possible, use level ground to minimise the risk of the load becoming unstable during loading/unloading.

WHSQ also advises implementing administrative controls, such as:

• develop and maintain a traffic management plan, safe work procedures and provide training for workers

• implement and enforce exclusion zones where no-one places themselves between the load and the truck or trailer and lifting equipment that may arise during loading or unloading

• operators loading or unloading construction materials are trained, competent and correctly supervised

• inspect the load prior to unloading to identify any potential movement of materials.

The authority warns of consequences for noncompliance.

In 2018, a timber company was fined $210,000 after a truck driver was fatally crushed while delivering product.

In 2017, a company was fined $35,000 for a worker’s injuries when a pack of timber weighing 274 kg on the rear trailer of a road train destabilised after another worker used a forklift to remove a pallet and fell onto a worker standing on opposite side to the forklift operator.


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