This article was sourced from Safer Together: Loss of Control – Vehicle
How would you know it is safe to cross flooded waterways?

A rig crew was travelling in a Light Vehicle (LV) from a rig to the main camp for a handover. It was dark, conditions were wet and road access had been impacted. The LV had successfully crossed six gullies containing various quantities of water and reached the next flooded gully after 11 pm. The occupants estimated the water depth and decided that they would be able to safely cross the flooded section of road. When attempting to cross, floodwater washed the vehicle 45m downstream and it turned on its side. The cabin became submerged with water. The occupants made an emergency escape. No physical injuries were sustained.

Why?

Rig management did not adequately assess the risk posed by flood water when authorising the journey and overestimated the ability of the crew to assess risks posed by any floodwater that they may encounter. The vehicle occupants perceived that they could safely make the crossing based on an estimate of the water depth. They had a poor understanding of the power of flood water and the risk that it presents. Their decision to cross was influenced by: previously navigating six flooded crossings; potentially being stuck in the field due to impassable crossings. The crew did not conduct a Step 7 assessment prior to undertaking the journey. No crew member intervened to stop the journey once it commenced.

Lessons
  • Reinforce awareness and understanding of risks with Safer Together Water Crossing Guideline
  • Ensure Journey Management processes identify and assess flooding risks before authorising journey in wet conditions.
  • Conduct a Step 7 assessment prior to every journey and reinforce the right of any vehicle occupant to stop and unsafe journey.
Could this happen to you?
  • Are you confident that you can adequately assess if a water crossing can be navigated safely? How would you make this assessment? Have you been trained to do so? When was the last time you received such training?
  • Do you understand Journey Management expectations involving floodwater and vehicles?
  •  Would you intervene to stop an unsafe journey?

 

Please send your feedback to info@safertogether.com.au