Home mechanic fatalities cause concern

In the past four years at least ten people have died in Victoria when crushed by a vehicle they were working on at home.

RACV and VACC say this highlights the need for home mechanics to be extra cautious when jacking up a vehicle. They have also warned against using inappropriate or poorly maintained equipment.

RACV Chief Engineer (Vehicles) Michael Case said, "Using inappropriate or poorly maintained jacks and failure to use proper safety stands when working on a car mean putting your life at risk. Deaths have resulted from vehicles coming off jacks or jacks slipping or collapsing, crushing the person underneath the vehicle. Other fatalities have occurred when vehicles were not secured by chocks and rolled onto the victim, or when the structures on which a vehicle was supported have failed.

"The jack supplied with the car is only designed for changing a wheel. A trolley jack and safety stands should be used for repairs or to get under a car.

"Never place any part of your body under a raised car unless it is sitting securely on safety stands or vehicle ramps and never jack on an uneven or soft surface or in loose gravel."

VACC Technical Manager Mr Liston said, "Use a trolley jack to raise the vehicle and then support it with safety stands when undertaking repairs. Always use jacks and safety stands that comply with Australian Standards and are sufficient for the weight to be lifted.
"Large vehicles, such as 4WDs, might be too heavy for smaller jacks to lift safely and it is important to always use trolley jacks and safety stands with sufficient capacity."

RACV and VACC recommend that when using a jack:

Park on a suitably sized, solid, level surface (for example, concrete driveway or garage floor);

Use a trolley jack that has sufficient capacity to lift the car and complies with Australian Standard AS 2615. To hold the car, use sturdy safety stands that comply with AS 2538;

Find the correct jacking or lifting points and positions for safety stands on your car. Check the owner handbook or workshop manual. If in doubt, contact a dealer or manufacturers customer support network;

Chock both sides of the wheels opposite to the end being lifted - if applicable, apply the park brake;

Position jack under correct lifting point and raise jack until contact is made. Check that its head plate is sitting squarely on the point you are lifting;

Steadily lift the car to the required height, making sure the jack is able to roll slightly to allow for the change of angle as the car is raised. Carefully position the safety stands and slowly lower the jack till the car rests on them. Reverse this procedure to lower the car.

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