Beginning in April 2018 Workplace Health and Safety Queensland will be auditing organisations in the manufacturing industry as part of an effort to reduce injuries from plant. Issues to be focussed on will include machine guarding, isolation, lockout and tagout, plant risk management, and safe use of plant and systems of work.

This campaign by WHSQ is a timely reminder of the importance of plant safety for fixed or mobile plant in all organisations.

Risks to workers from plant items are as widely varied, for example:

  • Mechanical issue – ensuring identification of ineffective machine guarding, deformities or damage or evidence of oil or fluid leakage that may compromise operation;
  • Electrical issue – ensuring the supply is not impacted by other plant or equipment and identifying any damage caused to power supply flexi cables or conduit; and
  • Interfacing issues – ensuring sufficient space is available to other plant (whether that be fixed or mobile plant) without negatively impacting on other operations.

Arguably the two most common points of failure relate to ineffective isolation and lock out processes (to ensure that plant is safe for maintenance, cleaning, etc.) and an over-reliance on PPE. When items of plant are covered in signage it’s often an indication that the various mechanical and electrical controls have been ignored or poorly designed.

In the context of the wide variety of risks that plant poses, it’s critical that both managers and workers are familiar with the process of undertaking a risk assessment, so as to be competent to identify the risks associated with the specific item(s) and context of the task at hand. This process is laid out in the Managing Risks of Plant in the Workplace Code of Practice 2013 that will soon be mandatory in Queensland.

It’s also important to ensure that a regular and robust inspection process is in place for fixed and mobile plant items, so that the micro issues (breakages, maintenance failures etc.) don’t escalate into more significant ones.

Please contact QRMC for plant safety risk assessments, risk assessment training or plant risk management process development.