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Working near mobile plant

Safety Alert
1 June 2017

Working in close proximity to mobile plant, such as cranes, forklifts, earthmoving equipment, elevating work platforms, delivery vehicles, order pickers, prime movers and cranes, increases the risk of serious injury or fatal incidents.

Following a recent fatality involving an articulated crane, persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) and workers are reminded of the risks associated with working near mobile plant.

Serious and fatal incidents can occur during:

  • pedestrian movement near vehicles or plant
  • reversing or manoeuvring
  • arrivals or departures
  • loading or unloading
  • hitching or unhitching trailers
  • lowering ramps
  • mounting or dismounting vehicles
  • securing of loads
  • movement of materials
  • maintenance work.

PCBUs must have safe systems of work that identify the risks and the means to eliminate or control those risks to ensure the safety of people working with or near mobile plant.

If construction work is carried out at a workplace where there is any movement of powered mobile plant, a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) must be developed to identify the site-specific hazards and the appropriate risk control measures.

At most worksites, a combination of control measures will be required.

Possible causes

Possible causes of incidents include:

  • plant operating near people or utilities
  • plant operating on an uneven or unstable surface
  • plant reach not taken into consideration
  • high speed or reversing plant
  • unauthorised or uncontrolled worksite access/egress
  • competency of plant operators
  • non-use of taglines
  • noisy or traffic congested work areas
  • unfamiliar worksites
  • inadequate positive communication
  • restricted vision or operator blind spots
  • poor space planning.

Control measures

Anyone in control of a work area must plan and review work activity to ensure that:

  • any traffic hazards are identified and traffic management plans implemented to control areas of interaction between people and mobile plant, using control measures such as exclusion zones, spotters and traffic controllers
  • mobile plant movement plans are communicated regularly to all site workers, visitors and contractors
  • alarms for moving plant are operational and appropriate for the site conditions
  • traffic speeds are clearly identified and controlled
  • loads are adequately secured
  • plant operators are competent and have the relevant licences
  • workers and others are adequately trained, instructed and supervised to prevent people from plant-related risks within the specific worksite.

Further information

Disclaimer: While care has been taken to ensure the accuracy and currency of the information in this publication, at the time of reading it may not be sufficiently accurate, current or complete to suit your individual needs. Reliance on the information in this publication is at your own risk. SafeWork SA accepts no liability for any loss resulting from your reliance on it. To best meet your work health and safety obligations refer to current Acts, Regulations and Approved Codes of Practice.