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FACEValue: Truck driver dies after air release from tire failure

Case report: #17MI007*
Issued by: Michigan Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program
Date of incident: 2017

A 61-year-old truck driver died after he was thrown back onto a concrete floor when air was released from a pressurized tire sidewall failure. The victim’s truck had a flat inside-left tire on its rear axle. After trying to inflate the tire, the two mechanics working on the tire used a jack to raise the rear of the truck to take pressure off the tire. After several more unsuccessful attempts to inflate the tire, they removed the outer tire. They attempted again to inflate the flat tire and were successful, but could hear air leaking from it. One of the mechanics asked the victim to release the air brake. The tire was rotated and a piece of metal was found. The mechanic was positioned to the right of the tire when the victim walked up to the left, presumably to point out the metal. The mechanic warned the victim to move away while he removed the air chuck. The sidewall of the pressurized tire failed, releasing pressurized air. The force of the air from the “explosion” launched the driver backward. He landed about 12 feet away on his back and struck his head on the concrete floor. The victim was transported to a local hospital, where he died.

To help prevent similar incidents:

  • Ensure only properly trained and authorized employees can access the maintenance area.
  • Follow best safety practices, such as using a tire cage when performing tire maintenance, and provide training on the proper procedures.
  • Perform routine inspections of tire integrity.

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