Unsealed forest roads create dust hazards

In poor visibility, a double-cab workers’ transport vehicle was following a logging unit and was driven into the rear of the trailer.

Circumstances

Four occupants were travelling home from work in a double-cab vehicle. The vehicle drove towards a right-angle corner and the occupants could see the logging truck turning right into the other road. They followed the logging truck as it climbed the gradient. It is assumed that the logging truck slowed as it climbed and the driver of the double cab could not see the rear trailer as he had little or no clear vision of the road in front of him. The double cab hit the trailer and the two rear passengers were thrown forward, one suffering serious injury and the other bruising. Neither of the rear passengers was wearing a seatbelt.

Investigation

The investigation determined that the accident was caused by the driver continuing to drive without clear vision ahead.

WorkSafe New Zealand advice

The hazards of driving on forest roads are increased by drivers not driving with due regard to road and weather conditions. Dust is a major hazard throughout the country and there have been a number of very serious accidents involving vehicles transporting workers and heavy vehicles, both laden and unladen.

All vehicles should be driven with due regard to road and weather conditions.

Passengers in work vehicles must wear seatbelts at all times. In this case, wearing of seatbelts would have saved a serious injury.

Follow these simple guidelines when driving vehicles in dusty conditions:

  1. If a heavy vehicle is approaching you, slow down, pull well over until the vehicle has passed and the dust has subsided.
  2. Do not follow closely in poor visibility. Travel at a distance that ensures you have ample visibility.
  3. Do not pass in dusty conditions unless:
    • the other driver is aware of your presence, and/or
    • you have plenty of room and clear vision well ahead.
  4. If it is not safe to pass, slow down or pull over. The few extra minutes may well avoid a serious accident or even a fatality.
  5. Remember, if you are paid to drive the vehicle, you have responsibilities under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

To which industries/sectors or matters will this information be relevant?

  • Forestry
  • Road transport

Published: May 2010. Updated August 2017.

While this bulletin has not been updated to reflect current work health and safety legislation (the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and regulations), it may still contain relevant information and practices to keep workers and others healthy and safe. Please read this guidance in conjunction with all relevant industry standards that apply to you as a PCBU. This guidance will be progressively reviewed and either updated, replaced with other guidance, or revoked.

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