Heavy vehicle safety


23 August 2016

The driver of a heavy vehicle was injured in an explosion when he went to investigate smoke being emitted from his vehicle. A failure of hydraulic and electrical components, while the vehicle was operating, resulted in an explosion and fire due to the ignition of hydraulic fluid.

Contributing factors

The investigation by WorkSafe ACT revealed that a pressurised hydraulic hose and the battery cable had both been breached due to persistent abrasion against each other. The hose and cable had been resting against each other and in the course of normal operations had rubbed against each other to such an extent that a small hole in the hydraulic hose allowed pressurised hydraulic fluid to escape in an atomised form. At the same time a breach in the electrical cable allowed arching against the truck body causing sparks which ignited the hydraulic fluid resulting in a flash explosion and fire. Both components suffered significant damage.

Action required

Operators of heavy vehicles have a safety duty under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 to ensure the provision and maintenance of safe plant. Accordingly persons conducting a business or undertaking should ensure the following:

  • That hydraulic hoses and electrical leads are separated and supported/ protected to prevent any abrasion;
  • That prior to service and maintenance the underside of heavy vehicles are cleaned so that a more comprehensive inspection of hydraulic hoses can be undertaken;
  • That all heavy vehicles be fitted with dry powder fire extinguishers attached by a quick release bracket; and
  • That all heavy vehicles be fitted with first aid kits.

It is recommended that hydraulic hoses undergo a visual inspection every three months.

Photo of damaged cables

Further information

For further information contact WorkSafe ACT on 13 22 81 or email WorkSafe@act.gov.au.

This Alert contains information emerging during an investigation by WorkSafe ACT into the mentioned incident at the date of this report. The information contained in this report does not necessarily reflect the final outcome of WorkSafe’s views or proposed actions with respect to this incident. WorkSafe ACT does not warrant the information in this report is complete or up-to date and does not accept any liability to any person for the information in this report, or its use.

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