Safety alert issued over super tilt heavy vehicle recovery trucks and trailers

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Saturday, 3 April, 2021 - 12:15
Policy & legislation
New South Wales

SafeWork NSW recently issued a safety alert reminding businesses, PCBUs and workers working with super tilt heavy recovery vehicles of the hazards associated with the plant, and in particular, winches, cables and powered elements used to haul, load and secure vehicles.

Super tilt trailers can tilt and slide and allow for the transportation of containers, heavy machinery, and heavy vehicles.

In most cases upper tilt operates in the form of an articulated vehicle, that is a prime mover and attached tilt trailer.

The safety alert was issued following an incident in which a worker operating a super tilt trailer fitted with a double winch and cable arrangement sustained serious injuries to his hand including partial amputations to his fingers when the cables came off and the cable roller became caught between the cable drum roller and the tilt frame.

As the worker attempted to dislodge the cable his hand was caught between the loaded cable and the tray.

Significant grooves in the frame showed the damage was caused by previous operations whereby the cables had ‘crossed over’ during the vehicle recovery process.

The crossing over of cables is recognised as a practice that does occur, however it is not industry best practice.

Unsafe work practices of crossing over of the cables is sometimes done at the initial stage of winching to recover and position a load, particularly if the load is located lateral to the trailer. In such cases, a ‘snatch block’ should be used as an alternative to crossing the cables as this will assist in the winching process and eliminates the likelihood of cables crossing over.

The crossing over of cables will result in the excessive wearing of the winch and associated components.

The alert subsequently recommended a number of required actions:

  • Establish and maintain a system for regular inspection of the plant including daily prestart checks.
  • Establish and maintain a system for the regular maintenance of all plant. Maintenance must be undertaken by a competent person, and in accordance with the recommendations of the manufacturer of the plant, and at least annually.
  • Establish and maintain agreed safe systems of work in relation to the use and operation of the tilt trailer and associated components.
  • Ensure all the required plant and equipment required is inspected and available i.e. snatch blocks