OSH alert - MVA - Car hit tree (November 2016)

Key learnings from a High Potential Incident

Driving incident iconHPI OSH Alert #490

Date of incident: 1 November 2016

Safety Flash issued: 2 December 2016


Motor vehicle accident - car hit treeWhat happened?

An operator and a passenger were travelling on a gravel road when they failed to negotiate a bend resulting in a collision with a large tree. Some unsecured items (projectiles) in the tray impacted and broke the rear window while others ejected from the tray. Multiple unsecured items (projectiles) were also loose within the cab.

Both the driver and passenger were taken to hospital to be assessed and were released without serious injury. The driver however suffered some burns to their arms caused by the vehicle’s air bags. Both required time off work to recover. The vehicle was a write-off.

Why did this happen?

  • The driver failed to drive to the conditions, was unfamiliar with the route and did not see the corner in time to negotiate it safely.
  • Road signage was present but not easily visible.
  • The driver involved was experienced in driving on gravel roads but has never received any formal driver training at Water Corporation.
  • Due to loads being incorrectly restrained and there being unsecured items in the cab there was an increased risk of injury.

What will the business area involved in the incident do to stop this from happening again?

  • Communicate Safe Job Planning Guidance for driving and raise awareness regarding gravel roads and tight corners, load restraint and locally known black spots.
  • Engage with the local shire/Main Roads Department regarding the incident, particularly with regard to the signage and its visibility.
  • Feedback findings from this investigation will be shared with the GPS trial project to support the case for the introduction of GPS into operational vehicles. The vehicle involved had not been fitted with GPS. If it had, the device could have triggered an alarm that would immediately notify the Operations Centre and it also would have recorded information leading up to the event.

What will our organisation do to stop this from happening again?

  • Review the Employee Driver Assessment Form (#6791101) to identify and document opportunities that would trigger the need for its use and driver training recommendations.   
  • Review all driver training profiles. Use the Employee Driving Assessment Form as guidance. Add any additional required training to individual training profiles.   
  • Develop a risk assessment for operational vehicles to determine if a 4WD vehicle is appropriate when planning vehicle replacements.   
  • Review future load restraint training for adequacy in particular unsecured loads in ute trays and in cabs. Amend training if required.


What key learnings can you discuss with your team to stop this from happening again?

When discussing this incident with your teams, it’s important to focus on the risk of driving and to reinforce the need for a heightened awareness as driving conditions can change in an instant. Discussions should encompass the following:

Driving is a high risk activity within our business and one of our key Safety Essentials. Water Corporation employees travelled more than 27 million kilometres in 2016.

Driving to the conditions

  • Inattention was a contributing factor in this incident
  • Plan the trip and always drive to the road conditions. This may mean slowing down and driving below the posted speed limit, especially on gravel roads. If you are unfamiliar with the route or unsure of road conditions, slow down.
  • Recently graded gravel roads can be more slippery than usual with loose material (ball bearing gravel) on the surface.

Securing items and training

  • Ensure all items, both within the cab and in external storage (tray), are secured when travelling. Loose items are dangerous projectiles and can be a risk to both passengers and other road users. Engage four wheel drive when possible while driving on gravel roads. The additional traction can aid driving on loose surfaces. Training such as defensive driving, gravel road driving techniques and 4WD operations should be considered during employee profiling.

Further information

If you would like further information about anything included in this HPI OSH Alert, please contact Charis Neumann, Snr OSH Analyst Incidents on (08) 6330 6629.