Do you know your legal responsibilities if you own Plant, Machinery or Equipment?

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Do you know your legal responsibilities if you own Plant, Machinery or Equipment?

As an owner of plant, machinery and equipment you bear an enormous responsibility to maintain safety standards in order to protect yourself, your staff members and to adhere to the laws and regulations of the country.

Unfortunately, accidents involving machinery and equipment continue to occur all over Australia. Over the period 2006 to 2011, SafeWork Australia has reported a total of 188 fatalities associated with unsafe design of machinery, plant and powered tools. Below is a breakdown of fatalities by circumstance category.

statistics of fatalities associated with unsafe design of machinery
Source: SafeWork Australia report: Work-related fatalities associated with unsafe design of machinery, plant and powered tools, 2006 – 2011.

Another statistic from Safe Work Australia reveals, that 14,715 machinery operators and drivers were injured between 2013 and 2014.

Fatalities continue to occur in workplaces all around Australia. Two recent incidents have occurred in Perth from falls on Construction sites resulting in fatalities that could have been prevented. From the table above crush injuries from Elevating Work Platforms feature highly and unfortunately these incidents are still occurring, also resulting in fatalities.

The statistics present evidence that there is urgent need for action by owners of plant, machinery and equipment to mitigate the number of injuries and accidents.

Besides reducing the risk of fatalities and injuries related to the operation of plant and equipment, effective asset management also takes into account government legislation and regulations in order to comply with Australian Standards and to avoid prosecution resulting in hefty fines.

Important guidelines and safety measures

We have compiled a list of important guidelines and safety measures for plant, machinery and equipment owners, managers, supervisors and operators:

1. Installing or decommissioning machinery

Firstly, do not install, commission or decommission any plant or equipment if there could be a potential safety hazard. Secondly, make sure you engage a qualified and trained person to complete the job.

2. Altering plant & equipment

Do not alter any plant or equipment before you have consulted a specialist who is aware of the risks involved. Alterations should only be made by specialised and trained people who have got the necessary experience.

3. Use of machinery

If you start using plant & equipment for any other purpose than it was designed for, you run a serious safety risk. Not only can the equipment break, but the operator and other stakeholders are put at risk. If you are in doubt whether a plant can be used for a specific purpose, consult the manufacturer.

4. Idle equipment

Machinery that is not in use can pose a safety threat. Ensure that plant which is not in use is stored/parked adequately and in a safe spot.

5. Guarding on plant

Safety guards on plant and equipment are sometimes removed for faster access or it gets damaged. It is essential that adequate guarding is installed, otherwise you are breaking the law and the guard is repaired when damage occurs.

6. Temperature control

If Plant and Equipment or parts thereof require temperature control then this is an area which has to be checked frequently.

7. Operator’s controls

Operator’s controls need to be labelled properly and should be guarded from accidental activation. Special attention should also be placed on the cleaning procedure of plant and avoiding unintentional activation.

8. Emergency stops

Plant and equipment must have emergency stop controls that are highly visible, clearly marked, accessible and consist of a red coloured button of mushroom type on a yellow surface.

9. Warning procedures

Depending on the nature of operation, plant and equipment operators should have a warning procedure in place. This could include the installation of a safety alarm or signage/barricading.

10. Plant & equipment inspections

Inspections must be carried out by trained specialists who are experienced with safety measures, inspection of equipment and asset maintenance. You must ensure a competent person maintains, inspects and, if necessary, tests the plant in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

11. Pressure equipment & plant that lifts

These types of equipment are considered high risk and can pose serious risks if not designed, manufactured, operated and maintained properly. In addition, you must ensure that pressure equipment and plant that lifts are tested and inspected regularly by a competent person in accordance with the applicable Australian Standards. Keep track of inspection dates.

13. Keep records

Keeping accurate records is probably one of the most important points mentioned and is a mandatory requirement of most states WHS Regulations. It is the cornerstone of effective asset maintenance and handling. You should keep track of inspection dates, commissioning & decommissioning, dismantling and alterations to your plant.

Classified Plant Management System (CPMS)

The above lists many safety measures required under law for plant & equipment owners and operators however it is not a complete list. There are many other factors at play in maintaining safety in the workplace.

The best way of going about it is to engage a professional asset management company. AME provide professional, cost effective and comprehensive services for all your asset management needs, including inspection and assurance services to the rail transport, mining and oil and gas and construction sectors.

With a highly competent technical team, we can verify whether your assets, plant and systems are designed, constructed and operate in accordance with the applicable industry standards, classification and statutory requirements.

If you have any questions or would like to talk to us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions presented in this article are those of the author. Asset Management Engineers Pty Ltd does not warrant the correctness of the information provided or its fitness for any purpose.