Queensland renews truck immobilisation safety caution

WHSQ echoes calls from previous years following recent incidents

Queensland renews truck immobilisation safety caution
Risks of vehicles unexpectedly moving must be managed by appropriate controls


Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) is reinforcing the dangers of not effectively immobilising heavy vehicles, following a recent sequence of incidents.

In February, a man was crushed to death while doing mechanical repairs, with initial initial enquiries indicating he was under the truck when it inadvertently rolled forward and fell off a hydraulic bottle jack, fatally striking him.

One month later, a truck driver suffered serious leg injuries when trapped by his vehicle.

Initial inquiries indicate the man was next to his truck when it unexpectedly rolled forward and crushed him.

From July 2014 to January 2020, WHSQ reports, an average of 53 workers’ compensation claims annually for crush related injuries involving trucks and semi-trailers, and 20 notified events involving a person being run over by a truck.

In the same period, it issued four statutory notices for injuries sustained because of, or managing the risk of, a truck-related run over.

"The risk of the vehicle moving in an uncontrolled or unexpected manner must be managed by ensuring appropriate controls are put in place," the workplace safety watchdog says in an incident report.

"The person conducting the business or undertaking (PCBU) must manage risks associated with immobilising vehicles.

"Effective risk management starts with a commitment to health and safety from those who manage the business.

"Managing work health and safety risks is an ongoing process and involves four steps, including: identifying hazards, assessing risks, controlling risks, and reviewing control measures to ensure they are effective."

Once the risks have been assessed, the next step is to control risks associated with immobilising vehicles.

"These control measures are ranked from the highest level of protection and reliability to the lowest and are known as the hierarchy of control,"WHSQ continues.

"PCBUs must work through this hierarchy to choose the controls that most effectively eliminate or, where that is not reasonably practicable, minimise the risks.

"PCBUs must first consider controls that most effectively eliminate the risk or, where not reasonably practicable, that minimise the risks.

If completely eliminating hazards is not reasonably practicable, operators must minimise the risk by one or a combination of engineering or administrative controls, WHSQ notes.

WHSQ been leading a safety campaign on truck immobilisation

Engineering controls include:

  • using components to support a vehicle, such as suitable load rated stands and lifting devices which should only be used and maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications and instructions
  • installing a handbrake warning system to alert drivers when the handbrake has not been applied
  • chocking wheels on both sides of the vehicle using serviceable purpose-built chocks
  • using a flat even surface that can bear the general load of the vehicle and the point load of any equipment such as jacks/lifting equipment.

Administrative controls include:

  • maintenance and repair tasks in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations
  • conducting vehicle inspections
  • use of stands, jacks, chocks or other systems for immobilising vehicles
  • a lock and tag out process to effectively immobilise vehicles
  • providing workers with instruction, training and supervision on safe work procedures
  • ensuing worker training, experience and competency aligns with the requirements and complexity of the task
  • exclusion zones around vehicles (ensuring they are clearly marked and enforced).

Control measures should be reviewed regularly to ensure they are effective, WHSQ adds.


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