WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert about the risks associated with driving heavy vehicles and moving around road freight depots following an incident in which a road freight employee recently died when they were directing a co-worker to reverse a truck and trailer into a shed.

The employee stumbled and fell into the path of the trailer, and this is the second death this year from an employee being struck by a truck and trailer at a depot.

In other incidents this year, six drivers in road freight transport have sustained fatal injuries following single-vehicle accidents, vehicle rollovers, or losing control of the vehicle.

The safety alert said vehicle crashes are the leading cause of fatalities within the transport industry.

This may occur due to speeding, drugs and alcohol, fatigue, in-vehicle distractions, adverse conditions, poor vehicle condition, and technology use.

The alert recommended a number of ways to control risks, and said that where an employee is using a vehicle to perform work, the vehicle is considered to be a workplace.

As a result, employers must identify and control any risks to health or safety associated with the use of the vehicle.

Employers and self-employed persons should ensure:

  • traffic management systems are in place and are followed
  • people, vehicles, and mobile plant are separated
  • fatigue risks are controlled and employees are fit for work
  • vehicle maintenance schedules are in place and followed
  • systems are in place in depots to identify and remove slip, trip and fall hazards (for example oil leaks, pooled water, rubbish or debris)

The alert said employers may also have duties under the National Heavy Vehicle Laws, including in relation to fatigue management.

These laws are in effect in Victoria as part of a nationally consistent approach.


Australian Institute of Health & Safety

November 23, 2020