Working under heavy vehicles

The purpose of this Safety Alert is to highlight the risk of serious crush injuries associated with working underneath heavy vehicles when measures have not been taken to immobilise the vehicle.


A truck driver received fatal crush injuries in the Katherine region whilst carrying out repairs underneath the trailer he was towing.

Initial findings shows the trailer brakes had activated due to an air leak in the brake hose forcing the deceased to pull over to the side of the road. The vehicle had stopped on a slight decline.

The deceased propped the accelerator pedal to allow the trucks air tanks to fill more quickly to release the brakes, whilst under the trailer making repairs.

When the trailer brakes released, the vehicle rolled forward, crushing the deceased.

Contributing factors

Some of the factors that contributed to the incident include:

  • The air tanks were being filled whilst the trailer brakes were disengaged
  • The wheels of the vehicle or trailers were not immobilised (e.g. chocked), even though the vehicle was on a decline.

Action required

When conducting repairs to a vehicle:

  • Switch off the motor and remove the key from the ignition to make the vehicle inoperable
  • Engage the vehicle’s handbrake
  • Chock the vehicle’s wheels if the vehicle is on uneven ground.

Further information

Safety Alerts


This Safety Alert contains safety information following inquires made by NT WorkSafe about an incident or unsafe practice. The information contained in this Alert does not necessarily include the outcome of NT WorkSafe’s action with respect to an incident. NT WorkSafe does not warrant the information in this Alert is complete or up-to-date and does not accept any liability for the information in this report or as to its use.