Two heavy vehicle operators learnt the hard way not to make sure an adequate perimeter is established before performing high-risk work.
A 36 tonne excavator began stockpiling hammered material for crushing work adjacent to the New England Highway, when a water cart drove up for dust suppression at about 5pm on 10 February 2022.
The excavator operator swung the 36-tonne machinery onto its blind side, resulting in the bucket striking the water cart. The combined forces were so great, they completely ripped off the cabin roof and severely damaged the front windscreen.
Representatives from Transport for New South Wales, Worksafe NSW and even the South Australian Department for Infrastructure and Transport investigated the scene. They found the work site had an insufficient exclusion zone for all mobile plant movement. The zone should have had safety provisions for machine full reach, attachments and counterweights.
Investigators also failed to identify appropriate traffic management plans, route closures or human traffic diversion.
“When passing plant is entering exclusion zones, always communicate with the plant operator and confirm plant is isolated before passing or entering the exclusion zone,” the department said in a safety alert.
“Machine operators are required to lower attachments to the ground and confirm the mobile plant is positively isolated (e.g. blue light on) before confirming access into the exclusion zone. Slew locks should [also] be considered for use on excavators where there is potential for excavators to slew into operational roadways.”
The water cart driver reported no major injuries.
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