A report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau on its investigation of a 2012 road-rail vehicle accident that killed an employee concludes that flawed work safety policies were the primary cause of the employee’s death.
Death could have been prevented
The report, which was released in September, says if only Transfield Services Australia, the employer concerned, had actively clamped down on consuming alcohol at work and made sure vehicle modification are included in its maintenance program, the worker’s death could have been prevented.
The investigation centred on an incident in May 2012, when the third vehicle in a three-vehicle Transfield road-rail convoy collided with the rear of the second vehicle and ran over and killed a worker who was crouching on the track. A safeworking officer was struck, but only sustained minor injuries.
Cannabis in deceased worker’s system
The report said the deceased worker had cannabis in his system. In addition, alcohol and empty alcohol packaging were found by ATSB investigators in the flatbed truck and in the deceased worker’s vehicle on the day of the incident. As it later found out, the ATSB said Transfield has no prohibition clauses regarding alcohol consumption in its drug and alcohol policies. Furthermore, the company only required workers to show up for work without detectable levels of alcohol or other drugs in their systems.
The ATSB report also says the flatbed truck that triggered the accident was not in good condition, although it had been maintained in accordance with the maintenance guidelines of the manufacturer of the vehicle. Those guidelines, however, did not cover additional road-rail equipment and other aftersales modifications. It was the responsibility of Transfield to make sure their vehicles were always in good operational condition by developing a maintenance regime that takes vehicle operating conditions into consideration, and the ATSB concluded the company failed to fulfil that responsibility.
To read the report in full, click here.