Plant, machinery and equipment

Machine safety is everyone’s responsibility – including managers, supervisors, maintenance workers and employees.

Plant includes machinery, equipment, appliances, containers, implements and tools and components or anything fitted or connected to those things. Some examples of plant include lifts, cranes, computers, machinery, scaffolding components, conveyors, forklifts, vehicles, power tools and amusement devices.

Must dos

There are specific laws about working with plant to make sure it is safe for operators and people nearby.

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

Find out what you're responsible for:


Machine guarding

Machines, especially those with moving parts, are a hazard to operators and other workers who can be caught in the machine, struck, or hit by ejected machine parts.

Machines are a leading cause of workplace fatalities and injuries in the manufacturing sector.

Manage the risks

Use a combination of safety controls to manage the risks:

  • Use barriers, such as guards, to physically prevent access to the machine.
  • Use presence sensing devices that stop the machine when someone gets too close.
  • Choose or design machines with controls that provide distance between the machine and the operator.
  • Employ administrative controls to establish safe work systems (eg processes whereby machines must be powered down before cleaning or maintenance can take place and hazardous areas are clearly marked and isolated while the machine is in use).
Safety guarding on machines and equipment

If you manage or control machinery, equipment and plant you must :

  • Ensure guarding is well constructed and securely mounted to plant to resist impact or shock from operation and
    • it is permanently fixed physical barrier or an interlocked physical barrier (if access to the danger area is required during operation, maintenance or cleaning), or
    • it is a physical barrier that can only be altered or removed by the use of tools (when it is not reasonably practical to use guarding referred to in 1), or
    • it has a presence sensing safeguarding system (when it is not reasonably practical to use guarding referred to above).
  • If you need to remove guarding for maintenance and cleaning, you must take steps to ensure (so far as is reasonably practicable) that the plant cannot be restarted until the guarding is replaced.
  • If the plant contains moving parts that could break, disintegrate, or be ejected, the guard must effectively (so far as is reasonably practicable) contain the broken or ejected parts.
  • Design the machine to make bypassing or disabling the guarding as difficult as reasonably practical
  • Ensure any pipe or other part of the plant that is subject to heat or cold is guarded or insulated if there is a risk of injury.

Machine guarding videos

This safety alert was published in response to incidents where workers were injured using unguarded machines while manufacturing food.

Machine guarding in the food industry safety alert

How to use machine guarding


Download and print for free, or order the machine safety pack.

It's got everything you need to know to stay safe. The pack includes:

  • Guards poster (A2)
  • Safety culture poster (A2)
  • Toolbox talk form
  • Incident / near miss investigation form
  • Safe guarding of machines fact sheet
  • Safety guards fact sheet
  • Leadership and commitment information fact sheet
  • Isolation of plant – lock-out / tag-out fact sheet
  • Due diligence fact sheet

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