Safety Issues


Truck Driver Dies while Rotating Tires Mounted on Demountable Multi-piece Rim Wheels

The 39-year-old experienced male truck driver was employed by a septic company for 16 years.  He had a wife, two kids and was an active member of the National Guard.  


On a rainy Wednesday morning, the truck driver’s assigned job had been cancelled and he decided to rotate the truck’s tires.  The majority of the company’s vehicle maintenance was performed in-house and the victim knew the tires on his truck were due to be rotated.  The truck was a rear tandem axle dual wheel truck with multi-piece demountable rims.  The rims were made up of three components: a rim base, a split locking ring, and a continuous side ring that stay together when the tire is fully inflated.  The tires were about one year old and fully inflated prior to the incident.  


Although the tire rotation task was described by the company owner as a two person job, the truck driver was performing the task alone.  After backing the truck into the company’s garage, the truck driver used a hydraulic floor jack positioned between the truck’s left rear axles and removed the outer and inner wheels on the forward rear axle.  Next he removed the outer wheel on the left rear most axle by loosening and removing most of the six lug nuts and wedge clamps.  As the truck driver started to remove the inner left rear wheel from its axle, he was standing in front of the wheel when its rim suddenly released.  Both the rim’s split locking ring, continuous side ring and at least one of the wedge clamps were propelled out from the wheel with great force causing the victim to be blown back.  The victim was struck in the forehead by at least one of these rim pieces.  Later that morning a co-worker found the victim on the ground in the company’s garage.

Occupational injuries and fatalities are often the result of one or more contributing factors or key events that are part of a larger sequence of events that ultimately result in the injury or fatality.  The following items were identified as key contributing factors in this incident that ultimately led to the fatality: 1) fully inflated tires being removed from the truck’s axle; 2) lug nuts being removed before all of the wedge clamps were loose; and 3) standing within the trajectory while accessing inflated tires. 

  • Completely deflated all multi-piece rim wheel tires prior to removing them from a vehicle’s axle.
  • Loosen all demountable rim wedge clamps before removing any of the wheel’s lug nuts.
  • Never positioned yourself in the trajectory of (in front of or over) inflated tires mounted on multi-piece rims while servicing them.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Occupational Health Surveillance Program
250 Washington Street, 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02108

Safety Issues is presented by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in partnership with the National Truckers Association (NTA), with major contributions from State partners funded by NIOSH through the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program.  The goal of the FACE Program is to prevent occupational fatalities across the nation by identifying and investigating work situations at high risk for injury and then developing and disseminating prevention strategies to those who can intervene in the workplace. State partners who contribute Safety Issues postings based on recent investigative reports are California, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, New Jersey, and Washington.

This month’s Safety Issues is based on an investigative report from the Massachusetts FACE Program. The complete detailed Massachusetts FACE Investigation Report: #11MA044 includes additional case information, recommendations and discussion. This report can be found at Additional MA FACE Investigation Reports, Annual Reports, Hazard Alerts and other publications can be accessed through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health at

The Safety Issues and Investigation Reports which are the products of NIOSH Cooperative State partners are presented here in their original unedited form from the states. They are intended for educational purposes only. The findings and conclusions in each report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the NIOSH