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Managing the Risks of Plant in the Workplace

Plant includes any machinery, equipment, appliance, container, implement and tool, and includes any component or anything fitted or connected to any of those things. This includes items as diverse as lifts, cranes, computers, machinery, conveyors, forklifts, vehicles, power tools and amusement devices.

Licences are required to operate some items of plant, such as some types of cranes.

Refer to page 18 of the Code for more information on licencing requirements.

Responsibility

If you are a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) you have a responsibility to provide and maintain safe plant and to ensure safe use, handling and storage of plant. If you have management or control of new or second-hand plant, including as the designer, manufacturer, supplier or importer, you have a responsibility to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the plant is without risks to the health and safety of any person.

Refer to pages 4-6 of the Code for more information.

Registration of plant and plant designs

It might not apply to your business, but some items of plant and plant designs must be registered with SafeWork SA before being used at a workplace.

Refer to pages 8, 32 and 33 of the Code for more information on design and item registration requirements, page 34 of the Code for record keeping requirements relating to registrable plant and plant design, and Appendix A (pages 35-36) of the Code for a list of plant items and plant design which must be registered.

Information requirements

If you are supplied with an item of plant, information about the plant or its design - including the purpose for which it was designed or manufactured, the test results and any conditions necessary for the safe use of the plant - must be provided to you.

Refer to page 7 of the Code for more information.

Managing the risks

Risks associated with plant at your workplace should be managed following the following simple, systematic approach:

  1. identify hazards associated with plant at your workplace
  2. assess the risks associated with the hazards, if necessary
  3. control the risk
  4. review risk control measures.

Refer to pages 6 and 9-13 of the Code for more information.

Identifying the hazards

To identify hazards associated with plant it can be useful to consult your workers, review safety information (e.g. technical standards or information provided with the plant) or review any incident records and data (e.g. records of workplace incidents, plant inspection reports and maintenance logs).

Refer to page 37 of the Code for a checklist to assist with hazard identification.

Assessing the risks

A risk assessment involves considering what could happen if someone is exposed to a hazard and the likelihood of it happening. For example, if there are people or other items of plant in the vicinity, what effect do they have on the likelihood or consequence?

However, a risk assessment is unnecessary if you already know the risk and how to control it.

Refer to pages 10-11 of the Code for more information on risk assessments.

Controlling the risks

The Code outlines specific information on controlling risks from purchase to disposal (including any applicable competency requirements) for:

  • purchasing (including second-hand) and hiring plant - refer to pages 14-15 of the Code
  • installation and commissioning of plant - refer to pages 15-16 of the Code
  • making changes - refer to pages 18-19 of the Code
  • inspecting plant - refer to pages 19-20 of the Code
  • maintenance, repair and cleaning of plant - refer to pages
    20-21 of the Code
  • storing plant - refer to pages 21-22 of the Code
  • decommissioning, dismantling and disposing of plant - refer to page 22 of the Code.

In many cases, a combination of control measures will provide the best solution e.g. protecting workers from flying debris when using a concrete cutting saw may involve guarding the blade, isolating the work area and using personal protective equipment (PPE) such as a face shield.

Refer to pages 23-31 of the Code for specific control measures in relation to:

  • guarding plant
  • operator control devices
  • emergency stop devices
  • warning devices
  • isolation of energy procedures.

When choosing the most appropriate control measure, the following hierarchy of control should be considered:

  • eliminate the risk
  • substitute, isolate the risk or apply engineering controls e.g. using concrete barriers to separate mobile plant from workers
  • use administrative controls e.g. safe work procedures
  • use PPE.

If there are other businesses involved with plant at your workplace (e.g. if you own or manage an on-hire business and your workers undertake work at other workplaces), then you should exchange information with the host business to determine if your workers could be exposed to hazardous plant, and what each of you will do to control any associated risks.

If you use plant (e.g. mobile plant such as a forklift) at a workplace that is shared with other businesses, you should talk to those businesses about the risks your plant could cause their workers and work together to manage the risks.

Refer to page 7 of the Code for more information.

Reviewing risk control measures

Risk control measures may need to be reviewed after any incident, or when there's been a change to plant or work practices.