Mobile communication devices

Using mobile communication devices while operating (or working near) mobile or high risk plant can cause distraction, which can affect reaction times and awareness of your surroundings.

This increases the risk of:

  • hitting pedestrians (or you yourself being hit)
  • colliding with other plant or structures
  • overloading or dropping loads
  • plant tipping over or moving unintentionally

Examples of some mobile communication devices can include:

  • phones
  • two-way radios
  • tablets, notebooks and laptops
  • music and other media players

Everyone (including employers, contractors, supervisors and workers) has a duty to manage work health and safety risks while at work. Where risks can’t be eliminated, they must be minimised.

What you can do

If the risk from using mobile communication devices when operating (or from just being around) mobile or high risk plant is significant, then using these devices should be prohibited if it is reasonably practicable.

To do this effectively you need to prevent all access to the devices when the risk is present, for example by ensuring they are surrendered and stored away.

When this is not reasonably practicable, risks can be minimised by implementing a mobile device usage policy, and ensuring everyone complies with it.

Such a policy can include:

  • using hands-free devices
  • using two-way radios instead of mobile phones
  • keeping conversations short
  • limiting use to times when plant is inactive
  • limiting use to designated areas (eg exclusion zones)
  • limiting non-essential use (eg emergencies only)
  • prohibiting the use of mobile phones in hazardous situations (eg when performing complex tasks with machinery, refuelling plant)
  • keeping a sufficient distance from others who may be put at risk if distracted by your communication
  • discussing risks of inappropriate use with workers

Further information

  1. The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 outlines your responsibilities under legislation.
  2. The Code of practice for managing the risks of plant in the workplace provides general information about controlling risks and includes checklists, technical standards and information about plant registration.
  3. The Working with or around mobile plant safety alert provides a four-step guide to implementing an effective traffic management system for mobile plant users.

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Email
contact@safework.nsw.gov.au
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