Safety warning over off-highway haul truck tyre blowout in workshop injures workers

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Monday, 13 September, 2021 - 12:45
Policy & legislation
Western Australia

WA’s Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) recently issued a safety alert following an incident in which a haul truck arrived at a workshop for maintenance with no tyres fitted in position 4 or 5.

The position 6 tyre casing blew out 15 days later, and four workers were working on the haul truck in close proximity to the tyre. One worker was thrown backwards by the percussive shock wave and knocked unconscious.

Two other workers received minor injuries (ringing in ears and light bruises). The workshop walls were damaged and projectile shrapnel was found up to 17 metres from the position 6 tyre.
During the 15 days, the truck had not moved and the tyres were cold, and the tyre casing that failed was a 46/90R57 size, of steel radial construction and with only 2000 hours of recorded service.

The alert said there were a number of contributing causes:

  • The tyre was not disposed of when it was removed from service in October 2018. It had a large cut caused by a rock during operation which, over time, allowed moisture to enter the steel cord area causing corrosion.
  • The tyre was stored in the elements for 16 months before being fitted to transport the truck to the workshop.
  • The decision to return the discarded defective tyre to service was not based on an inspection and assessment by a suitably competent person.
  • The site also did not have a safe system of work for the inspection of tyres used for transportation purposes.
  • The damage to the tyre was not obvious due to the steel cord corrosion being internal.
  • People in the workshop were working in close proximity to fully inflated tyres.

The alert subsequently recommended a number of required actions:

  • Tyres that are known or suspected of being defective are not fit-for-purpose and must not be returned to service unless they have been inspected and assessed as fit-for-purpose by a competent person (r. 4.38 Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996).
  • Persons who inspect and assess tyres must be competent, having an appropriate combination of knowledge, experience and qualifications (Section 19(1)(b) Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984).
  • As part of a comprehensive tyre management plan, mining operations should have established safe working procedures for the inspection and assessment of tyres that are known or suspected of being damaged.
  • To reduce the hazardous energy, tyres in workshops may be deflated to a lower pressure if persons are working in close proximity. A risk assessment should be conducted to determine if the tyre pressure should be lowered. Because the tyres are not carrying as much load (just the empty weight of the truck), the pressure may be reduced to a lower value as advised by a competent person.