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Safety alert issued after mechanic dies while working underneath a car

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.
Date: 
Friday, 7 May, 2021 - 14:00
Category: 
Policy & legislation
Location: 
Victoria

WorkSafe Victoria issued a safety alert about the hazards associated with working underneath raised vehicles in the auto repair industry following the death of a mobile mechanic.

A mobile mechanic has died while working underneath a raised vehicle.

Working alone at a private residence, the man was fatally injured when the vehicle he was working underneath rolled off a trolley jack and crushed him. WorkSafe is investigating the incident.

Many workers in the auto repair industry are required to work on vehicles outside of a workshop, such as at another workplace or private residence.

The alert said servicing and repairing vehicles frequently requires the vehicle to be raised on a hoist or trolley jacks to enable work to be undertaken on the underside of the vehicle.

Serious crush injuries can occur when:

  • vehicles fall or roll-off hoists, trolley jacks or axle stands. When used on sloping or uneven ground, the risk of injury increases
  • lifting equipment used to raise a vehicle is used incorrectly, is not maintained or is overloaded
  • the park brake is not engaged and the wheels are not chocked
  • vehicles are left in gear causing them to lurch forward, possibly striking or running over persons nearby
  • heavily loaded vehicles (including attachments and modifications) are unstable and tip over when raised on hoists

To reduce the risks associated with working on vehicles, the alert said:

  • operators must be instructed, trained or supervised in the safe use of equipment
  • ensure machinery and equipment, such as hoists, trolley jacks and axle stands are well maintained, regularly serviced and only used for their intended purpose
  • when working with hoists or trolley jacks, ensure safe working loads are not exceeded - reduce load of vehicles prior to placing on a hoist or trolley jack by emptying the vehicle of heavy items especially tradie toolboxes etc
  • consider heavy vehicle accessories which may alter the vehicle's centre of gravity
  • always apply the hand brake and place the vehicle in Park or Neutral when a vehicle is on a hoist or jack
  • always ensure the ground is firm, flat and even
  • identify the lifting point to correctly position the jack under the vehicle
  • transfer the vehicle to axle stands when the vehicle is raised to the required height
  • when working alone – plan ahead, inform others of your whereabouts and check in regularly