Fatal Truck Crash Involving A Water Truck
A Latrobe Valley business pleaded guilty in the Magistrates’ Court to a single charge each under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of failing to provide and maintain safe plant. In particular a water truck rolled killing a 21 year old employee.
The company was fined $388,650 while owner was fined $77,730, the maximum penalties available.
The court was told Valley Sweep had entered into a hire agreement to provide another company with a water cart truck and a driver in April 2017. Less than a month later, the 21-year-old driver was killed when the truck rolled while travelling down a long, steep, curved section of road near the town of Noojee.
A forensic engineer engaged by WorkSafe concluded the poor condition of the truck’s brakes, including being improperly adjusted, was the primary cause of the crash.
It was revealed the water truck had last undergone a major inspection and servicing by an external mechanic in December 2015.
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Mr Zakic and another Valley Sweep employee had performed some maintenance and repair work for the company’s fleet of trucks and had worked on the water tanker, but neither were qualified mechanics.
The court also heard the driver had not received any formal training in the operation of water cart trucks, which have unique handling characteristics, or any supervised training in driving a water cart truck in difficult conditions such as a steep or curved descent.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said there was no excuse for the employer’s behaviour.
“This company’s director made a reckless decision to perform service and maintenance work on the water truck himself, even though he knew he wasn’t qualified to do so,” Ms Nielsen said.
“This failure to take reasonable care left a dangerous vehicle on the road and ultimately cost a young worker his life.”
You’ll need a Truck Licence to operate a Water Truck
To manage these risks better employers should consider the following:
- Make sure the appropriate safe systems of work are in place and that these are regularly monitored and reviewed.
- Ensure regular vehicle inspections, servicing and maintenance are undertaken by suitably competent persons in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Not allow untrained, unlicensed or inexperienced people to operate vehicles.
- Establish appropriate rules and standards for safe road use (including speed limits for travel and manoeuvres) taking into account the load factor of a vehicle, movement of liquid and its effect on the stability of a vehicle, increased breaking distances due to the surge of liquid within a tank and changing environments and conditions.
- Communicate all safety information to drivers and others (eg load information for those responsible for loading and driving vehicles) to enable them to perform their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.
Pre-operation Checks are conducted daily on essential components
- Tyres (including pressure)
- Oil leaks and suspension
- Have defects rectified by competent persons
Implement systems that ensure people are competent to conduct to do their work
This should include:
- Information about the work
- Mentoring and assessment
- Toolbox training and refresher training even for experienced employees
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