OSH alert - Truck rollover (February 2016)

Key learnings from a High Potential Incident

Driving incident icon

 HPI OSH Alert #474

Date of Incident: 16 February 2016


What happened?

Photo of truck rollover and biosolids spillA long term employee of a contractor was driving a road train loaded with approximately 45 tonnes of bio-solids on Great Northern Highway. With the exception of gusty winds, the driving conditions were normal.

In the act of avoiding oncoming traffic, the left hand side wheels of the rear trailer drifted onto the gravel shoulder of the road. When the trailer came back onto the bitumen road it careered to the right hand side of the road. At this point the trailer and subsequently the entire vehicle rolled onto its side.

Why did this happen?

Contributing factors:

  • The rear trailer of a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction was moving around on the road, resulting in the driver having to move to the left hand road verge to avoid a collision.
  • The depth of the bitumen / gravel road shoulder contributed to the rear trailer ‘whipping’ back onto the bitumen road and rolling on its side as the driver tried to correct.

In terms of other factors, the road train (prime mover with two tri axle trailers) was fully maintained. It had passed an inspection the previous day and the load mass was below its approved 83.5 tonne gross weight.

What will the contractors do to stop this from happening again?

  • Ensure drivers are aware of the risks for transporting biosolids and deliver additional training related to preventing rollovers. This will include the dissemination of the Main Roads publication ‘Tips to Prevent Rollover Crashes’ to all heavy vehicle drivers.
  • Consider the installation of front and rear facing cameras, implementing a fatigue recognition system and speed limiting their trucks to 90km/h.

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

  • Work collaboratively with contractors to ensure drivers are fully aware of the conditions and the characteristics of transporting biosolids. This will include development of a fact sheet to be presented to drivers via a toolbox topic format.
  • Include an agenda item specific to the risk of driving (awareness, competency, fatigue, incident management, etc.) in the periodic contractor performance reviews.
  • Confirm competency levels of all the contractor’s drivers associated with the transport of bio-solids.
  • Ensure performance reporting concentrates on the OHS aspects of the service and appropriate controls are in place to adequately manage the risk, including scheduled maintenance and safety in design.

What were the key learnings from the incident?

Recognise that the transport of biosolids, or WWTP sludge from a regional perspective, by road is the most viable option for the current WWTP operations and therefore the risk of driving will continue to be a significant risk to the business. Consequently, we need to ensure all employees and contractors are diligent in terms of driver awareness / competency, their ability to adapt to conditions, considering other road users and ensuring the vehicles we drive and the controls we have in place are effective.

Your action: 

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

Highlight this incident within your teams to put a focus on the risk of driving and reiterate the need for a heightened awareness when you’re on the road as driving conditions can change in an instant.

Formally engage with contractors undertaking similar activities to discuss the associated risks, identify any gaps and develop options to address the gaps.

Further information

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