QLD: worker killed by skid steer loader

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Tuesday, 15 June, 2021 - 12:00
Incidents & prosecutions

A plant operator in Queensland was recently killed when he was struck by the skid steer loader he was using.

Early investigations indicate the skid steer loader was being used to repair a residential driveway and it struck the worker after he fell out of the machine.

In a separate incident in May 2021, another plant operator received lacerations to his head when he was struck by piece of timber.

Initial enquiries indicate he was using a skid steer loader to remove a rubbish pile at a construction site, when for reasons yet to be established the timber was pushed up in the rubbish pile, entering the loader’s cabin and striking the operator.

A subsequent alert put out by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland said operating powered mobile plant at construction workplaces exposes workers to a range of health and safety risks, including:

  • the plant overturning
  • things falling on the operator of the plant
  • the operator being ejected from the plant
  • the plant colliding or coming into contact with, for example workers, other vehicles or plant, energised powerlines
  • mechanical or other failures (hydraulic failures, release of hazardous substances).

Powered mobile plant may also present a risk if steps are not taken to prevent uncontrolled movement (for example rolling down a sloping surface), or unauthorised operation.

The alert said effective controls for managing the risks of operating mobile plant are often made up of a combination of controls.

WHS regulation requires the implementation of specific controls for powered mobile plant by the person with management or control. These specific controls include:

  • ensuring a suitable combination of operator protective devices for the plant is provided, maintained and used. For example, enclosed cabin and seatbelts to prevent the ejection of the operator or the operator being struck by falling objects.
  • ensuring the plant does not collide with pedestrians or other powered mobile plant
  • where there is a risk of collision, that the plant has a warning device to warn other persons of the risk
  • ensuring no person other than the operator rides on the plant unless the person is provided with a level of protection that is equivalent to that provided to the operator.
  • maintenance, inspection and, if necessary, testing of plant is carried out by a competent person. The maintenance, inspection and testing must be carried out:
  • in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations
  • if there are no manufacturer’s recommendations, in accordance with the recommendations of a competent person,
  • in relation to inspection if it is not reasonably practicable to comply with the above, annually.