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WA safety watchdog warns of vehicle fatalaties at workplaces

Trucks make up the majority of fatal and non-fatal incidents WorkSafe notes but mobile plant issues also raised


A spate of vehicle-related deaths and injuries in Western Australian workplaces has spurred WorkSafe in that state to highlight the issue.

WorkSafe director Joe Attard says it is evident by the number of recent incidents that insufficient attention was being paid to spaces where vehicles and people interact.

“Wherever vehicles and people interact, strict rules need to be in place to ensure the work environment is kept as safe as possible, and the number of recent incidents indicates that more attention needs to be given to this crucial workplace issue,” Attard says.

The watchdog points to seven recent mostly fatal incident types, five of which involved commercial vehicles.

These are:

  • A bystander was killed by a truck in a loading dock.  While moving forward, the rear of the truck swung out and crushed the bystander against a wall
  • A bystander and a truck driver killed in separate incidents when the hydraulic ramps of low loader trailers fell on them
  • A person hit by the rear of a trailer and crushed by the wheels when a truck was moving slowly around a corner at a workplace.
  • Several incidents of serious or fatal injuries by forklifts unloading vehicles. These people were standing too close to the raised load and were crushed when the load, or part of it, fell.
  • Several serious injuries when drivers turned on the ignition while not sitting in the driver’s seat.  Vehicles that were in gear moved suddenly and caused injuries.
  • Front end loader at a workplace reversed and crushed a bystander against a parked vehicle, causing serious injuries.
  • Pedestrian killed when an earthmoving machine reversed over him.  The vehicle was landscaping in a garden bed next to a park where there was no spotter or exclusion zones.

“We’re really concerned about the number of recent incidents involving mobile plant and pedestrians,” Attard says.

“There seem to be a number of contributing factors to these incidents, but the bottom line is a lack of management of the movement and speed of vehicles and a lack of segregation of pedestrians and vehicles.

“I urge employers to ensure the movement and speed of vehicles is managed to minimise the risk of injury and that workplaces are designed and maintained to ensure the safety of operators and others.

“In addition, safe systems of work, communication systems and signage need to be in place, and everyone at the workplace needs to be adequately trained in these safe systems.

“Lastly, operators and others should not be permitted to work in the fall zone of ramps or underneath vehicles or mobile plant that is not adequately supported.”

WorkSafe recently published a safety and health alert on its website that contains more detailed information on the factors that contributed to recent incidents, along with advice on the actions required in workplaces.

There is also a guidance note on safe movement of vehicles at workplaces, and all relevant workplaces should ensure they are familiar with the contents of this publication.

Further information can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or at

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