A transport company in Tasmania was not complying with workplace health and safety regulations when a workshop assistant suffered a serious head injury while repairing a fully laden log truck.
Father-of-two Shane Masters, 40, died in February 2021 from an epileptic seizure, something he experienced persistently because of the accident at Aprin Transport in 2008.
Mr Masters fell into the concrete side of a repair pit when a jack being used to lift the trailer became dislodged and struck another employee who fell into him.
He had to undergo life-saving surgery and was left with a severe brain injury that meant he had to learn to walk and talk again.
In findings published on Wednesday, coroner Olivia McTaggart ruled the trailer should have been unloaded before work to repair the truck’s airbags began.
“Jacking a loaded trailer is a dangerous practice and should never occur in a controlled work environment,” she wrote.
“I am unable to comment whether the weight of the trailer exceeded the capacity of the jack, but it may well have done and this fact may have contributed to the incident.”
She found the dislodgement of the jack was likely caused by factors including its misalignment and a lack of friction material between the jack and a trailer bar.
In an interview, a manager at Aprin Transport said there were no documented safety procedures for undertaking repairs which he conceded was “an oversight”.
“Aprin had not complied with its statutory duties under the regulations at the time of the incident,” Ms McTaggart wrote.
“If it had done so, there may well have been a safer approach to the task of repairing more than one defective airbag and a safer approach to the use of the jack.
“In this case, the injury to Mr Masters may have been avoided.”
Ms McTaggart said similar repairs were undertaken regularly at Aprin Transport and there had been no previous safety incidents.
The company was in October 2008 issued with a WorkSafe Tasmania notice to improve safety procedures for trailer repairs and was in December 2008 found to be compliant.
Ms McTaggart, who made no recommendations, found there had been no similar incidents involving Aprin Transport or in any other Tasmanian workplaces since.
The company was deregistered in 2017.