Inadequate support under a vehicle costs one life and £90,000

Newspapers regularly report of home mechanics being trapped or killed while working under their cars and the jack slips.  This type of event is less likely in workplaces because workshops have hoists or pits  where work can be undertaken under a fairly stable vehicle.  However not all vehicle repair happens in a workshop.

On 26 January 2010 a judge in the Old Bailey in England fined a vehicle maintenance company, Aviance UK Ltd, £90,000 over the death of Mohammed Taj in March 2008 after being crushed under a baggage tug at Heathrow Airport.

According to a media release by the Health & Safety Executive

“… Mohammed Taj, 52, from Hayes, a vehicle maintenance specialist was repairing a defective vehicle used to pull baggage trolleys, also known as a baggage tug, which had broken down near Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 1.

The vehicle was raised 60cm in the air on a single trolley jack as its only means of support. The worker was underneath the tug when the trolley jack moved backwards, dropping the tug onto him. He died at the scene shortly afterwards from head injuries.

The HSE investigation showed that the maintenance van supplied by Aviance UK routinely carried a trolley-jack but never carried axle stands or other means of support which should be used.”

According to a 2009 media report the company has expressed regret over Taj’s death following what they described as a “technical and administrative breach of HSE regulations”.

Information from the HSE and WorkSafe Victoria about working under vehicles is available below.

Kevin Jones

Categories business, death, government, guidance, law, OHS, safety, transport, Uncategorized, workplaceTags , , , ,

1 thought on “Inadequate support under a vehicle costs one life and £90,000”

  1. Sadly, I\’ve had some too close experience with this when an employee of a new client was killed at his home through doing work on his car. Car slipped off a jack. Axle stands are critically important. And I\’d add that an axle stand should be backed up with a wheel being laid under the brake drum. The wheel on the ground only works to stop the axle dropping to the ground – the reason an axle stand is essential. But that wheel placement needs to be done carefully, and only after the jack and axle stand are in place; a lesson I learnt the hard way.

    Sloppy dropping of a tree trunk section (intended as an improvised axle stand when I was up the bush) resulted in me knocking aside the base of a HiLift jack I had the ute up on proved 2 things. Don\’t drop lumps of wood near a HiLift jack like this idiot and the lift handle bar on a HiLift jack meeting a skull is not a happy thing!

    I\’ve also found that it\’s wise to keep a regular check of axle stands used in vehicle workshops. A common thing is use of improvised pins to lock the sliding axle stands into position. Need to watch out for wear on these. Any nicks or bending means they must be replaced. Shock loaded and they can fail.

    Col Finnie
    fini:OHS

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