Serious incident prompts another tailgate lifter warning

20 June 2024

Pallet trucks and tailgate lifters are again in the spotlight after a worker was injured in the second serious incident this year.

Contractors were delivering stock in Adelaide’s northern suburbs last week when the incident occurred.

As the pallet jack was positioned onto a pallet on the delivery truck’s tailgate, the jack moved backwards, pushing the worker off the truck.

He fell to the kerb and hit his head. The pallet jack also fell, landing on the workers’ legs.

The man was taken to hospital with a serious laceration to the head and a suspected leg fracture.

The 13 June incident follows a fatality in February involving a worker who was crushed by a pallet truck while using a tailgate lifter.

A worker died on 16 February 2024 when the pallet truck he was operating landed on him after he fell 1.4 metres from the tailgate platform edge.

SafeWork SA inspectors attended the scene and inquiries are continuing into the death.

Businesses and contractors utilising tailgate lifters to load and unload materials are urged to ensure the risks associated with working at height are managed.

A tailgate lifter is a mechanically operated platform mounted on a vehicle for the purpose of loading and unloading a vehicle. The tailgate raises or lowers loads between ground level and the rear or side of the vehicle, with loads commonly placed on pallets and moved using a pallet truck or pallet jack.

There are many risks involved when operating a tailgate lifter which can result in accidents and serious injuries. Accidents stem from people or loads falling off the lifting platform, workers being crushed or cut by the moving platform or pedestrians and other vehicles colliding with the tailgate lifter while it is in use.

Mechanical and structural failure with the platform or vehicle can have devastating consequences for the operator.

Safety control measures

Businesses and contractors must identify and assess all risks associated with the use of the tailgate lift and ensure:

  • it is strong and stable enough for the particular use
  • it is marked to indicate safe working loads
  • a regular inspection and maintenance schedule
  • workers are appropriately trained in the safe use of the tailgate lifter
  • controls are in place to minimise a person falling from the tailgate lift edge

To manage the risk of a fall, businesses and contractors should consider:

  • the use of guard-rail solutions on the platform
  • the use of increased slip resistance surfaces on the lifting platform
  • placing distinctive markings at the edges of the platform

Worker Responsibility

To minimise risk, workers operating a tailgate lifter should:

  • push the load on and off the platform, rather than pulling it, to minimise the risk of falling over the edge
  • wear slip resistant footwear
  • stand sideways on the platform where possible and use guard-rails if there is a necessity to ride on the platform

Useful Links:

Guide-to-work-health-and-safety-in-the-road-freight-transport-industry.pdf (

Tailgate lifters and loading ramps on vehicles and trailers | WorkSafe Victoria

Tailgate safety flyer

Safety Video:

Safety alert: Falls from flatbed trucks – WorkSafe NSW