South Australian coroner Mark Johns has called on federal and state governments to address the “inherently unsafe” way road rollers are used following an incident in which a road worker was killed by a roller.
In what Johns described as “a tragic accident”, roller driver Clive Fisher accidently reversed over Kym Greenhalgh, 50, who was spray-sealing a road near Meadows, south of Adelaide in April 2008.
Greenhalgh was walking on freshly laid bitumen behind a truck, as he identified and filled in patches in the newly-laid surface. Heavy rollers were driving over the newly laid section of road compacting and smoothing the surface.
Fisher, who was "universally acknowledged as a particularly careful and safety-conscious worker", accidentally drove Greenhalgh, who died of multiple injuries at the scene of the incident.
In the report into Greenhalgh’s death, Johns noted that heavy rollers are driven in reverse while they are travelling in a forward direction.
Johns recommended that the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure and the Minister for Industrial Relations consider, in conjunction with their interstate and federal counterparts, a strategy for addressing this issue.
“The evidence suggests that for technical reasons relating to new surfaces, it is not feasible to manoeuvre rollers to enable them to turn around at the end of each pass,” Johns said in his report.
“If that be so, then it should be possible to implement machine designs that would enable an operator to be facing in a forward position while the vehicle is in fact reversing.
“I simply cannot accept that the present unsatisfactory state of affairs where a driver has to spend half of his working day reversing a vehicle and twisting to look over his shoulder to do so, is the only way in which a road surface can be properly compacted,” he said.