Infrastructure, Machinery, Plant and Equipment
This section places obligations on all managers.
"Plant", in the occupational health and safety (OHS) context, means any equipment or apparatus used in the operations of a workplace. Staplers, computers, hand-dryers, screwdrivers, forklifts, ladders, fume cupboards and many other things are considered to be plant. Items of plant vary greatly in the sorts of injuries that can be sustained from their use and thus the level of risk can vary. Plant can cause injuries by trapping limbs, cutting, burning, crushing, electrocution, and damaging hearing. Risks must be identified and either (preferably) eliminated or adequately managed.
Plant that relies exclusively on manual power for its operation and is designed to be primarily supported by hand (other than hand-held explosive power tools) is not covered by specific OHS legislation (Plant Regulations). This would include hand tools such as saws, screwdrivers etc. The general duty of care under the OHS Act applies to this type of plant.
"Hazardous plant" under the OHS legislation is generally powered plant. It can be powered by electricity, steam, compressed air or other means. It includes hand held powered electric tools and equipment. It also includes non-powered structures and equipment such as scaffolds, lifting tackle and harness equipment. "Hazardous plant" is subject to specific regulation. In particular there are requirements to carry out documented risk assessments (and review them every five years at least).
Certain kinds of plant, such as forklifts, cranes and some pressure equipment require a licence from the regulator to operate and some high-risk plant must be registered with the regulator: see Plant Registration and Operator Licensing (PDF, 45.8 KB).
- Plan for the purchase of safe machinery
- Check the machine for general hazards
- Check guarding
- Check maintenance and servicing procedures
- Train your workers
- Supervise the work at an appropriate level
In particular Managers must:
- consider each hazard identified for each item of plant and whether the hazard can be eliminated; if not eliminated, whether it can be reduced; and if a risk still remains, what safety precautions can be taken, for example -
- can a sharp edge have a guard installed
- can noise be muffled
- can non-essential personnel be excluded from the vicinity of the plant
- fix the hazard if reasonably practicable, otherwise reduce the risk and take safety precautions
- record the hazards and how they have been addressed
- plant which remains dangerous after that process should be discussed with the HWS Unit in Human Resources (e.g. plant with a faulty design which cannot be remedied and effective safety precautions are impossible or not reasonably practicable)
- arrange for provision to operators of plant information, instruction and training about plant
- establish a plant defect reporting process and where relevant, plant isolation practices (i.e. cut off power to plant awaiting repair or disposal)
- routinely inspect equipment, talk to operators and review user manuals. Usually office electrical equipment such as computers and domestic-use equipment such as heaters would not be regarded as hazardous unless used for an unintended purpose (e.g. storage of flammable materials in domestic refrigerators.)
Some areas of the University control high risk plant and should have in place a more formal system. The Pro Vice-Chancellors of the Faculties of Health and Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment and the Directors, Institute of Frontier Materials, Centre for Intelligent Systems Research, Facilities Services, eSolutions and Logistics must nominate a senior officer to coordinate the above activities in each of their organisational areas. These officers will also be points of contact for the HWS Unit. In default of a nomination, contact will be made directly with the relevant Pro Vice-Chancellor or Director.
The Director, Facilities Services is to include on their list of identified plant any central shared plant, including electrical fixtures (e.g. switchboards, lifts, plant on roofs).
Safe plant operations require a knowledge of the following:
- Guarding plant: A guard is a physical or other barrier which prevents contact with moving parts or controls access to dangerous areas of plant. Guarding is installed to prevent workers getting clothing or body parts caught by a piece of plant, or to prevent work pieces being expelled from the plant and striking people.
- Operator controls: Well designed and set out operator controls will minimise the risk of error and injury. Controls must be easily accessible for operation, and identified as to their function, be prevented from unintentional activation, and be able to be locked in the “off” position
- Emergency stops: Must be of the “stop and lock-off” type if the plant is to be operated or attended by more than one person.
- Warning devices: Used where there is a likelihood of moving plant colliding with other plant or workers in the vicinity of plant.
- Isolation procedures: A set of predetermined steps that should be followed where workers are required to perform tasks such as maintenance, repair, installation, service and cleaning of plant.
Requirements applying to specific plant include:
- Roll-over protection for tractors and other mobile plant
- For powered mobile plant, in general the risks of the plant overturning, objects falling on the operator and the operator being ejected from the mobile plant must be controlled.
- For lift trucks (fork-lift trucks) there is a requirement that all attachments used with the lift truck are appropriate to the task, including any attachments used for the lifting of people.
- Scaffolds are only to be erected by persons that have the relevant competency certification and experience, and erected and used in accordance with the relevant legislative requirements. Where scaffolds are to be left unattended the person in charge of the scaffold is to prevent access to the scaffold as far as is practicable.
- Provisions must be made to ensure that persons working at height in a lift well have adequate protection for working at heights. Other persons should be protected from falling into or otherwise accessing open lift wells. Measures should also be taken to minimise and control the risk of falling objects striking a person working in a lift well, and control any risks that might arise from the movement of the lift car.
More information on plant safety and safety requirements can be found at:
Resources / Tools
|Step 1: If needed, nominate a Plant Safety Officer to oversee the compliance program|
|Step 2: Create a plant register|
|Step 3: Establish if plant requires registration or notification|
|Step 4. Dispose of any old, disused or seldom used, obviously unserviceable, equipment identified during the register creation process and prior to testing.|
|Step 5. Develop and implement an appropriate Plant Risk Assessment form or method|
|Step 6: Develop Safe Operating Procedures|
|Step 7. Set up an appropriate training schedule and operator approval process.|
|Step 8: Determine if competencies or licences are required to operate or maintain any of the items of plant|
|Step 9. Set up a maintenance, testing and assessment schedule based upon the register.|
|Step 10. Identify who is going to carry out the maintenance and testing.|
|Step 11: Ensure that all unsafe or failed items are removed from service immediately, tagged as such, and repaired or disposed of promptly.|
|Step 12: Set up a purchasing and approval process for new plant|
|Step 13: Set up a regular review process for the plant register.|
Plant Safety Checklists
Before buying new plant, obtain information on hazards, risk and safe operation from the supplier or manufacturer and consult relevant Australian Standards. Review the information from the supplier or manufacturer by conducting and documenting a risk assessment on the proposed use of the plant as part of the decision making process regarding the purchase of the plant.
If it is decided to acquire plant, ensure steps in Plant safety compliance procedure are followed, and
- Review compliance of the plant with the relevant Australian Standards. This is critical with directly imported plant
- Ensure plant is installed in such a way that safe operation of the plant will be possible
- Conduct and document a risk assessment upon the commissioning of the plant
- Ensure the operation of the plant is safe and without risk to health before the initial operation of the plant.
Care should be taken when equipment is loaned, or provided, to a student, contractor or other third party. In particular:
- check that the equipment is regularly maintained
- inspect the equipment for faults between loans
- provide written instructions on its safe use.
Managers responsible for areas that use medical devices for testing, experimentation or non-clinical treatment must ensure that:
- the equipment conforms to acceptable technical standards including Australian Standard 3551 Technical Management Programs for Medical Devices
- any necessary approvals are obtained from the University Human Research Ethics Committee
- where required under the therapeutic goods legislation, relevant approval is obtained from the Therapeutic Devices Branch of the Victorian Department of Human Services.
- where radiation is involved, the device and its use comply with relevant standards (see section of this manual on radiation)
If you design, manufacture or supply plant for use in a workplace (including a University workplace), or are a manager responsible for such activity in the University, you must familiarise yourself with additional requirements in the OHS legislation: see Plant Registration and Operator Licensing (PDF, 45.8 KB). Contact HWS Unit in Human Resources for advice.
Examples of relevant activities by the University would be:
- designing experimental equipment for use by a third party
- designing pilot plant to be used by a business or research partner
- designing plant for use by others in the University.