Just this month, a 49 year old bulldozer operator from Queensland was thrown from his bulldozer while clearing foliage. It appears the bulldozer drove onto a log, causing the tracks to lose friction, and rolled onto a steep slope, throwing him from the cage and trapping him underneath. Police were called to the property sometime after 10.30pm, although the accident could have occurred up to six hours earlier.
A Queensland Police spokesperson spoke to Newsport about the incident:
“We believe the gentleman was doing some land clearing for the owners of a private property,” the police spokesperson said.
“The man was pronounced dead at the scene.”
Since 2013 there have been 29 accepted workers’ compensation claims for injuries associated with plant rollovers in the agricultural industry. Of these, nine involved mobile plant including a harvester, grader, loader and dozer.
Preventing a Similar Incident
Dozers and other types of mobile plant are safe when operated correctly and with consideration for the environmental and ground conditions where they are being operated. However, like any equipment, they become dangerous if used incorrectly.
Before operating powered mobile plant, the person with management or control of it must ensure:
- the vehicle selected is the right vehicle for the task
- weather, ground conditions and the intended travel pathway have been inspected and assessed to identify any problem areas e.g. wet ground, sloping ground
- a seat belt, where fitted, is worn
- a suitable combination of operator protective devices for the plant is provided
- the manufacturer’s operating instructions have been read and are followed. For older items of mobile plant where operating instructions are not available, operational procedures and instructions for use should be developed by a competent person
- if the mobile plant is a tractor, a roll-over protective structure that complies with AS1636.1-1996 is fitted.
You must manage the risk of:
- the plant overturning
- things falling on the operator of the plant
- the operator being ejected from the plant
- the plant colliding with any person or thing.
When operating mobile plant in general:
- ensure it is driven to suit the environmental conditions and slow enough to retain control in unexpected circumstances
- reduce speed before turning or applying brakes
- use as wide a wheel track as possible when working on hillsides and sloping ground
- descend slopes cautiously, keeping the powered mobile plant in low gear to allow motor compression to act as a brake. Watch out for ditches, embankments, and depressions – unstable banks can cause rollovers
- do not park on a steep slope
- ensure the park brake is on and operating effectively before alighting the vehicle,
- if towing a trailer, ensure the load is evenly balanced, well secured and you operate at a lower speed.
PCBUs must also provide a system of work that includes effective communication with workers in remote or isolated locations. If you are working in a remote area or working alone, always let someone know where you are going and when you are expected to return.
- In 2017, a company was fined $70,000 after a worker was killed while performing scrub pulling using two bulldozers connected by a chain. One of the dozers had mechanical problems and stopped. The worker got off the dozer to investigate but the second dozer continued on, pulling the first dozer over the worker. There was no communication system in place between the dozers.
- In 2014, a company was fined $35,000 after a worker sustained fractured ribs and internal injuries when the tractor he was operating failed to navigate a bend in a farm road and drove over an embankment. He was not wearing the fitted seatbelt and was thrown out and run over by the tractor.
Source: WorkCover QLD, 30 August 2018