WorkSafe is investigating the circumstances surrounding a fatality involving a bogged vehicle. It is alleged that:
- it occurred while workers were recovering a vehicle that had become bogged
- a tractor was being used to recover another tractor
- a worker was in between the bogged vehicle and the recovery vehicle and was fatally crushed when one of the vehicles moved.
A similar fatality occurred in 2017, where it is alleged that a semi-trailer had become bogged at an orchard, and a telehandler was being used to recover it. When one of the vehicles was moved it fatally crushed a worker, who was between the two vehicles at the time.
Possible contributing factors in incidents of this type
- Workers working in close proximity to mobile plant while it is in operation;
- Incorrect connect equipment, processes and training to perform towing activities;
- Insufficient methods and equipment to ensure consistent communication is maintained during work activity.
Managing hazards and risks
- When recovering a bogged vehicle, ensure there is clear communication between the plant operators and all people on the ground (voice, radio, hand signals).
- NEVER approach mobile plant without first signalling to the operator that you need to approach, and ensure the operator has acknowledged your signal. Items of mobile plant have blind spots and the operator may not know that you are approaching.
- If a worker needs to approach a vehicle (for example to handle the chain or recovery strap), it is important that both vehicles are safely parked to prevent inadvertent movement.
- When recovering a bogged vehicle, ensure that appropriate recovery equipment is used and is attached to appropriate recovery points on each vehicle, in accordance with the operator’s manual and/or manufacturer’s instructions.
The above information is provided based on WorkSafe’s preliminary investigation and further investigation is continuing.