Wheel rim assembly failures

Monday, March 03, 2014

Incidents often happen during maintenance, when tires are being inflated or removed from vehicles.

WSN Hazard Alert: Wheel rim assembly failures - please post and encourage discussion in the workplace

What happened?

Tractor tireIn May 2005, a crane operator was fatally injured when a tire exploded as he was walking nearby. He had just finished his shift and was going towards two co-workers to offer assistance with a tire they were installing on a crane. When the tire exploded, a ring from the wheel assembly flew off and struck the man in the head instantly causing his death.  The two men on both sides of the tire were not injured in the explosion.

In July of 2000, one worker was fatally injured and one was critically injured while inflating the tire on a utility tractor. The tire was mounted on a three-piece rim. One of the workers was standing in the path of the trajectory when the tire exploded. In a similar incident in November of the same year, two mechanics were injured – one fatally and one critically – while working to remove an inflated wheel assembly from a haulage truck. The multi-piece rim failed, propelling the tire off the axle and striking the two workers. 

Why did it happen?

Multi-piece rim and wheel failures have been responsible for numerous deaths, injuries and lost-time accidents in mines, pits, and quarries in Ontario. Despite this, workers may not recognize the hazards or take them for granted. Incidents often happen during maintenance, when tires are being inflated or removed from vehicles while still inflated.

How could it have been prevented?

Each company should have a program for maintenance on tires and rims. As a minimum, each program should include:

  • Risk assessment to identify hazards on each tire and rim assembly.
  • Assessment to ensure maintenance and inspection practices are adequate.
  • Training and refresher courses for maintenance workers on how to recognize wheel and rim hazards and the proper procedures for wheel and rim assembly removal.
  • Procedure to clean and inspect wheel assemblies whenever they are removed from a vehicle. 
  • Procedures to follow manufacturer’s recommendations when handling tires.

What the law says

Section 107.1 of Regulation 854 for Mining and Mining Plants states that:

  1. an employer shall establish written procedures for work performed on tire and wheel assemblies; 
  2. the procedures shall address the hazards associated with the work in a manner that protects the health and safety of workers;
  3. where possible, the procedures shall require the use of devices to protect the health and safety of workers; 
  4. an employer shall train workers in work performed on tire and wheel assemblies and in the procedures established under subsection (1) before the workers perform that kind of work. 

Section 25(2) (a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act states an employer shall provide information, instruction, and supervision to a worker to protect the health and safety of the worker, and Section 25(2)(h) states an employer shall take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker.

Resource information

New Ministry of Labour guidelines - Workplace Safety North

Hazard alert: Wheel rim assembly failures

Ontario mining health and safety information and services