Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources and Mines recently issued a safety alert following an incident in which a driver was thrown from a cab in an articulated truck roll over.
In the incident, a trainee operator was reversing a 27 tonne articulated dump truck to tip a load of wet sand in a stockpile area.
The right hand rear wheels rode up onto the edge of an existing stockpile and the load in the tub shifted, tipping the trailer onto its side and rocking the cab violently.
The operator was thrown about in the cab, first striking and breaking the driver’s window and then striking, breaking and falling through the passenger side window to the ground.
The operator suffered lacerations to his arm and head which required hospital treatment.
A subsequent investigation found that the tub became unstable as the right rear wheels ran up on the edge of the stockpile, ending up about 1 metre higher than the left hand side.
Furthermore, the operator was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the incident, and the operator’s supervisor was operating an excavator that was loading the truck.
The safety alerted noted that, unfortunately, incidents where the tubs of articulated trucks have tipped over during tipping are too common and the Department of Natural Resources and Mines has previously issued safety alerts on the same issue.
The risks of operating articulated trucks are generally well understood and most operations combine operator training, procedures and standard work instructions to control these.
However investigations into tipping incidents regularly find effectiveness of controls compromised by the operation’s failure to implement and enforce them.
The alert subsequently made a number of recommendations:
Ensure all workers wear seatbelts when operating or driving vehicles.
Trainees gaining operation experience must be always adequately supervised to ensure relevant site procedures and requirements are being followed.
Ensure operator training covers hazards of driving, including reversing, over terrain that can affect the cross grade and lead to instability of the vehicle.
SSEs and supervisors must ensure site rules and procedures are effective and enforced.
Mine operators must ensure audits of the safety and health management system focus on the effectiveness of the hazard controls, associated procedures and standard work instructions.