Machinery and equipment

Every year, thousands of workers who use machinery and equipment (or plant, as it is commonly known) suffer horrific injuries in NSW workplaces.

Over the past three years there have been more than 140,000 injuries in NSW workplaces as a result of using plant incorrectly. More than 5800 workers were permanently disabled and 121 died.

Illustrated image of machinery cogs and worker in hard hard, With information, 140,000 + workers injured, 5800 permanently disabled, 121 dead.

Must do's

There are specific laws about working with plant. Here we summarise those laws and give you some practical tips.

Some laws relate to designers of plant, some relate to manufacturers, importers, suppliers and installers, while others are for owners, managers, supervisors and the like.

For designers

Manage risks

You must manage the risks to everyone’s health and safety when they manufacture, use, store, decommission, dismantle or dispose of the plant according to your design instructions.

Give information to the manufacturer

You must give the manufacturer:

  • the design specifications of your plant
  • information that will enable the plant to be manufactured in accordance with the design specifications
  • information about installing, commissioning, decommissioning, using, handling, storing and dismantling it
  • information about hazards and risks that could arise
  • enough calculations, analysis, testing or examinations to enable the plant to be manufactured safely
  • information about testing, inspections, systems of work, operator competencies and emergency procedures
  • information about the plant’s purpose and any conditions necessary to operate the plant properly.

If the manufacturer identifies a hazard for which there is no control measure, you must revise your information to ensure the risks have been minimised or, better still, eliminated – or let the manufacturer know in writing that no change is required.

Guarding

Where guarding is part of the design, you must ensure it prevents:

  • access to dangerous parts of the plant
  • broken or ejected parts injuring people.

It must be a securely mounted barrier that can resist impact and shock – and can be removed only by using tools.

If access is required to parts of the plant during operation, maintenance or cleaning, the guarding should be an interlocked physical barrier that allows access when there is no risk –and prevents access at all other times.

As a last resort – or an additional precaution – the guarding should include a presence-sensing safety system.

Operator’s controls

The operator’s controls must be:

  • labelled, to indicate what they’re for and how to use them
  • conveniently located for each person using the plant
  • designed to prevent accidental activation (eg by guarding)

If necessary, the operator’s controls must also allow the plant to be operated safely while being cleaned or maintained.

Emergency stop controls

Emergency stop controls must be prominent, clearly marked, accessible and coloured red. If there are multiple emergency stop controls and more than one person is required to operate the plant, the controls must be the ‘stop and lock-off’ type, so the plant can’t be restarted until the emergency stop control is reset.

Warning devices

If included in the plant design, a warning device must be positioned so as to provide the best effect.

Registered plant

If your plant design needs to be registered, you must keep a record of:

You must keep this record for the design life of the plant and make it available for inspection.

For manufacturers

Control risks

You must follow the designer’s instructions regarding the manufacture, inspection and testing of the plant.

If you identify a hazard in the design for which there is no control measure, don’t include it in the plant being manufactured – and ask the designer, in writing, to rectify the problem as soon as possible. Don’t begin manufacturing until the designer has responded, and talk with them about ways to solve the problem.

If you can’t contact the designer, make sure the risks are minimised or, better still, eliminated before you begin manufacturing the plant.

Guarding

Make sure the guarding is securely mounted. If access is required to parts of the plant during operation, maintenance or cleaning, the guarding should be an interlocked physical barrier that allows access when there is no risk –and prevents access at all other times.

Get and give information

Get all necessary information from the designer and pass it on to anyone to whom you supply the plant.

Registered plant

If the design of your plant is not registered and is listed in Part 1 of Schedule 5, you must not supply the plant until the design is registered.

For importers

Get and give information

Make sure you get the necessary calculations, analysis, testing and examinations that have been done on the plant. Or do them yourself.

Get all necessary information from the manufacturer and pass it on to anyone to whom you supply the plant.

Control risks

You must inspect and, if necessary, test the plant according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

You must manage the risks to those who may use the plant.

You must also consult the designer and manufacturer about any changes made to the plant in order to control the risks.

Registered plant

If the design of your plant is not registered and it’s listed in Part 1 of Schedule 5, you must not supply the plant until the design is registered

For suppliers

Get and give information

Get all necessary information from the manufacturer and pass it on to anyone to whom you supply the plant.

Second-hand plant

You must give anyone to whom you supply second-hand plant written information about its condition and faults, and whether the faults need to be rectified before using.

If plant is to be used for scrap or spare parts, it must be marked as such before being supplied to anyone – or advice must be given in writing that the plant is being supplied as scrap or spare parts and is not to be used as plant.

Registered plant

If the design of your plant is not registered and it’s listed in Part 1 of Schedule 5, you must not supply the plant until the design is registered.

For installers

Your duties

If you install, construct or commission plant (or a structure) that could be used as a workplace, you must follow the instructions given by the designer, manufacturer, importer, supplier or a competent person.

For owners and managers

Manage the risks

You must manage the risks associated with plant.

Install/commission

Don’t commission, decommission or dismantle any plant if you believe doing so carries a risk to someone’s health or safety.

Also, ensure you get a competent person to install, assemble, construct, commission, decommission or dismantle the plant, and give them all available information for eliminating and minimising risks. Throughout the process, inspect  and monitor the risks associated with any activities related to the plant.

Alter/interfere

You must prevent unauthorised alterations to or interference with any plant.

Use properly

Only use plant for the purpose for which it is designed.

If you propose to use it for some other purpose, get a competent person to determine whether the plant is safe for such use.

Those who use the plant must be trained in using its safety features and warning devices according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Not in use

Even idle plant can be dangerous. Make sure plant that is not being used doesn’t create a risk to anyone’s health or safety.

Guarding

Guarding must be permanently fixed if access to the guarded area is not required when the plant is being operated, maintained or cleaned. If frequent access is required, guarding must be interlocked.

You must ensure the guarding:

  • is solid and securely mounted
  • makes bypassing or disabling the guarding difficult
  • does not create a risk in itself
  • is properly maintained
  • controls any risks from broken or ejected parts.

Ideally, when the guarding is removed, the plant won’t start.

Heat and cold

If any part of the plant is associated with heat or cold, it needs to be guarded or insulated.

Operator’s controls

The operator’s controls must be:

  • labelled, to indicate what they’re for and how to use them
  • conveniently located for each operator
  • designed to prevent accidental activation – eg by guarding.

When cleaning or maintaining the plant, the operator’s controls should only be used by the person doing the cleaning or maintaining – or by an authorised person.

Emergency stop controls

Emergency stop controls must be prominent, clearly marked, accessible and coloured red. . If there are multiple emergency stop controls and more than one person is required to operate the plant, the controls must be the ‘stop and lock-off’ type, so the plant can’t be restarted until the emergency stop control is reset.

Warning devices

If included in the plant design – or if necessary as a risk minimisation measure – a warning device must be positioned so as to provide the best effect.

Maintenance and inspection

You must ensure a competent person maintains, inspects and, if necessary, tests the plant according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Powered mobile plant

If you use mobile plant, make sure:

  • it can’t overturn, or collide with anyone or anything
  • the operator can’t be hit by falling objects, or ejected
  • fluid that might be released from the plant in the event of a mechanical failure doesn’t pose a risk to anyone’s health or safety
  • the plant  has a suitable combination of protective devices – and they are used and maintained properly
  • no-one rides on the plant without the appropriate protective devices.

Tractor roll-over protection

If you use a tractor with a mass between 560 kg and 15,000 kg, it must have a securely fitted, roll-over protective structure.

You can lower or remove the structure only if the work demands it – and after other control measures are implemented to reduce the risk of a roll-over.

Industrial lift trucks

If you use an industrial lift truck, it must:

  • be used safely
  • have suitable lifting attachments
  • not carry passengers unless equipped to do so – ie it has a passenger seat, seat belts and overhead protection.

If you operate a forklift, you must have a high risk work licence.

Plant that lifts or suspends loads

If you use plant that lifts people or objects, it must:

  • be designed to do so
  • have suitable lifting attachments
  • be used within its safe working limits
  • not be used to suspend or carry loads over people, unless designed to do so.

You must also ensure:

  • the loads remain under control
  • no load is lifted simultaneously by more than one item of plant (unless the load placed on each item of plant is within its rated capacity).

If you need to lift people and you don’t have the plant specifically designed to do so, you can use plant that has a work box (with a safety harness and safe exit) attached to it.

When tree-lopping, you can lift or suspend a person in a harness with a crane and place them in the tree, provided it has been risk assessed as being the safest way to carry a person – and provided the person is in visual or verbal communication with the crane operator at all times.

Industrial robots

If you use an industrial robot, don’t let anyone within its vicinity if it could start without warning and cause a hazard.

You must isolate the robot by providing interlocked guards or presence-sensing devices.

Lasers

If you use laser equipment, make sure it is designed, made and installed so accidental irradiation won’t occur.

Never expose anyone to direct radiation, radiation produced by reflection or diffusion, or secondary radiation. Everyone using the equipment must be properly trained.

Ensure that any visual equipment used to observe or adjust the laser equipment is safe to use and does not create a risk to health and safety from the laser’s rays.

Don’t use Class 3B or Class 4 lasers in construction work.

Pressure equipment

You must ensure that pressure equipment is tested regularly by a competent person and gas cylinders are marked with their inspection date.

If you manage a gas cylinder filling-station, don’t fill a cylinder that has no current inspection date and only fill it with gas for which the cylinder is designed.

Scaffolds

If your work involves a suspended, cantilevered, spur or hung scaffold – or any scaffold from which a person could fall more than four metres – you must not use it until you have written confirmation from a competent person who has inspected the scaffold that construction of the scaffold has been completed.

A competent person must also inspect a scaffold:

  • after an incident that may affect the scaffold’s stability
  • before it is used again after repairs
  • at least every 30 days.

If an inspection reveals that repairs, alterations or additions are required, they must be carried out – then the scaffold and supporting structure must be inspected again by a competent person before the scaffold is used.

If a scaffold is incomplete or unattended, you must prevent unauthorised access.

Mobile and tower cranes

If you use mobile cranes or tower cranes, you must get a competent person to give them a major inspection – ie examine the critical components – in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, or every 10 years from when the crane was commissioned or registered (whichever occurs first).

Lifts

If you have lifts at your workplace, make sure you put barriers across the lift opening when it is being worked upon – and install secure platforms on which to work. Also, ensure the worker is protected from falling objects.

All lifts must have a safe entry and exit at the base of the lift-well, and a sign in the lift to indicate its safe working load.

Amusement devices and passenger ropeways

If you have an amusement device or passenger ropeway at your workplace, you must ensure that:

  • the operator is properly trained
  • the device or ropeway is checked every day before operation
  • the device or ropeway is operated every day without passengers, before being operated with passengers
  • daily checks and operations without passengers are recorded in a log book
  • the device or ropeway is stored by a competent person (who is supervised by a competent person), in a way that avoids damage
  • maintenance, inspection and testing is carried out by a competent person, according to the designer’s and/or manufacturer’s instructions
  • electrical installations and inspections are done by a qualified person
  • a detailed inspection is carried out by a competent person every 12 months
  • records, a log book – including details of each occasion the device is erected and stored – and operating and maintenance manuals are kept.

Where amusement devices or passenger ropeways are involved, the competent person you use must be:

  • a registered professional engineer
  • a chartered professional engineer and member of Engineers Australia, or
  • on the national professional engineers register (administered by the Institution of Engineers Australia).

When carrying out detailed inspections of amusement devices and passenger ropeways, the competent person must also have specific knowledge and skills acquired through training, qualification and experience.

Keep records

For all registered plant, you must keep a record of:

  • inspections
  • maintenance
  • commissioning
  • decommissioning
  • dismantling
  • alterations.

For items of plant with presence-sensing safeguarding systems, you must also keep a record of safety integrity tests.

For amusement devices, you must also keep log books and operating and maintenance manuals.

Keep records until you sell or dispose of the plant. And give a copy to whoever buys it.

Register plant designs and items of plant

The types of plant listed in Part 1 of Schedule 5 must have their design registered. Use this form to register a plant design.

Each item of plant listed in Part 2 must be registered. Use this form to register an item of plant.

If you lose or damage your registration documents, use this form to replace them.

More information

For the specific laws about plant, see chapter 5 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.

For information about controlling the risks from the moment you purchase to the time you dispose of plant, see the Code of practice for managing the risks of plant in the workplace.

For general information about managing risks and keeping records, see the Code of practice on how to manage work health and safety risks. It includes a sample risk register suitable for any workplace, and some interesting case studies.