Off-road vehicle wheel safety warning issued by IOGP24 February 2022

Rim and wheel from the September 2021 incident

The International Association of Oil and Gas Producers has issued a safety alert after two separate incidents occurred during maintenance of heavy offroad vehicle tyres. “The incidents represent opportunities to highlight risk areas that were insufficiently recognised in our industry,” the organisation said.

On 12 September 2021, a contracted tyre technician was fatally struck by a heavy vehicle tyre and a tyre rim, which ejected after a sudden failure. On 23 December 2021, an employee was fatally struck by a heavy vehicle tyre rim during maintenance. Both incidents happened during routine activities in controlled logistics environments. The trucks involved were heavy and had been used in rough terrain. Tyre inflation pressures were as per manufacturers' recommendations, on the order of 130 psi.

In the first event, a new tyre was already mounted on the one-piece rim after having been previously inflated inside a safety cage, and it was resting outside the cage waiting installation on a truck. A maintenance technician noticed some air leaking from it and approached it. While the technician was inspecting/troubleshooting the tyre, the wheel parted, releasing the rim, which hit the technician on the head.

In the second event, a driver was loosening the lug nuts of a heavy vehicle wheel that had been reported defective by a previous shift driver, with the intention of replacing it with a spare. The rim failed catastrophically and cracked in two, releasing the tyre and part of the rim with explosive force, and throwing the driver several metres away.

Following the incidents, prior damage was noted on the tyre rims in both cases. This may either have occurred through wear and tear during rough terrain driving, or potentially through driving with a partially deflated tyre. Subsequent wider inspection of tyres and tyre rims revealed that such cases are not limited to the incident vehicles in isolation.

IOGP concludes that several actions were to blame. First, in both incidents, workers were in the Line of Fire from a pressure hazard and had not recognised this as a risk. Second, in both incidents, the tyres were not deflated prior to troubleshooting task commencing. Third, in one incident, substandard practice was noted, in that the wheel was removed from its cage without inspection of the rim seat area. Fourth, in both incidents, tyre rim damage had been sustained and not recognised. Subsequent inspection of other vehicles found cases of cracks and damage. Fifth, in the first incident, OEM recommendations for tyre rim inspection had not been followed. Sixth, in the second incident, learnings from the first incident had been insufficiently embedded.

IOGP recommends that operators reinforce line of fire awareness with all personnel, and the importance of avoiding body positions in the line of fire. It also recommends that they immediately perform tyre and tyre rim inspections across vehicle fleets, and verify that tyres and tyre rims have been included in vehicle inspection programmes, among other actions.

Transport Engineer

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