Falling load leaves truckie with traumatic brain injury and both legs amputated

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
4 Min Read

A Melbourne truck driver has received some long-awaited justice after he suffered a series of horrific injuries at a construction material warehouse.

The driver was struck by a 1.5-tonne pack of steel beams that fell from his flat-top semi-trailer after an employee at Arrow Worldwide’s West Melbourne warehouse incorrectly loaded the material with a forklift.

The 12-meter-long beams hit the truckie, causing a traumatic brain injury and crushing both his legs, which he subsequently had to have amputated.

Earlier this week, Arrow Worldwide was fined $140,000 and ordered to pay an additional $6,936 in legal costs for the incident that occurred in May 2021.

The warehouse pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ensure that non-employees were not exposed to health and safety risks, with a WorkSafe investigating the company’s lack of health and safety protocols had resulted in the truckie’s injury.

“We know that pedestrians and mobile plant don’t mix, and safety or exclusion zones along with workplace inductions for anyone visiting the site are a crucial part of ensuring safety during loading and unloading work,” WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Dr Narelle Beer said.

“Tragically, in this case, a worker has suffered horrific, life-changing injuries that could and should have been prevented.”

WorkSafe said that Arrow Worldwide should have ensured that non-employees were kept separate from operated machinery, with waiting drivers in a designated “safe zone.”
They also determined that truck drivers should have gone through a work-site induction at the warehouse and provided instructions regarding work protocols. 

Being injured by falling/ moving objects is one of the more common workplace injuries within the construction industry. 

WorkSafe inspectors are also currently investigating a Queensland incident where a worker was struck by an unsecured scaffolding plank.

A gust of wind appears to have uplifted an unsecured scaffold plank, causing it to fall eight levels to the ground, where it struck a scaffolder, causing a severe head injury. 

According to statistics, being struck by a moving or falling object is the third most common cause of workplace injuries in Australia. In 2021-2022, 19,300 injury claims were made, 15 percent of all work-related injuries. 

Just last year alone, 17 Aussie workers died after being struck by a falling object, with transport and warehousing being the industry with the most fatalities as a whole. 

Build-it’s loading safety steps:

There are some simple steps those working in vehicle loading and loading zones should take to ensure their safety.

Employers and contractors loading and unloading trucks should ensure:

  • Safe systems of work are in place throughout the delivery and collection process.
  • All vehicle and machinery operators are appropriately trained and competent.
  • The designated loading/unloading area has been assigned and assessed for dangers before loading/ unloading.
  • Exclusion zones are established around the transport vehicle during loading/ unloading to prevent untrained personnel from entering.
  • Appropriate signage, barriers or other equipment are used.
  • A communication system between operators, transport contractors and ground staff is in place.
  • The transport vehicle is suitable for carrying the required load weight and type.
  • Loading machinery and vehicles are regularly inspected and maintained.
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Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.