Plant and equipment

The term plant refers to machinery, equipment and appliances. Common types of plant in the workplace may include hoists, photocopiers, forklifts and lifts.

Extensive information has been provided for use by Disability Enterprises due to the range of equipment in use. The general principles apply to all service providers who should undertake a risk assessment to determine if the risk of injury warrants the controls listed.

WHS Legislation requires those who design, manufacture, sell, buy, lease, install and use plant and equipment ensure that it is safe to use and is used in a safe manner.

The WHS Act and WHS Regulation prescribe specific actions to be taken when plant is in the workplace, including the requirements for risk control measure to be conducted and for consultation with workers.

The legislative requirements address:

  • the design, manufacture and registration of plant, including importing plant
  • the supply of plant by sale, transfer, hire or lease
  • working with plant in a workplace, including use, installation, erection and commissioning
  • maintenance, repair, dismantling, storage and disposal of plant
  • the provision of general control measures such as guards and emergency stop buttons
  • the duties relating to registered plant and plant design
  • records to be kept and information to be provided by the PCBU.
  • Specific types of plant have their own procedures covering specific risk control requirements e.g. lift trucks, scaffolds.

Risk management

This document outlines a guide for the requirement for both plant and site-specific risks to be addressed at all stages of the life of any plant.

The stages in the plant risk management process are:

  • identify the hazards which are associated with the plant, then categorise them as operational risks or inspection and maintenance risks
  • assess the risks if necessary, considering the user characteristics, level of exposure and consequence of exposure.
  • eliminate hazards, or where this is not reasonably practicable control them to as low as is reasonably practicable (ALARP)
  • monitor and review controls

Common plant hazards:

  • Moving parts of plant, or movement of material processed/handled by the plant. Moving parts accessible to employees; parts of plant (or material processed/handled by the plant) fall or fly off; uncontrolled or unexpected movement of plant or materials; runovers, rollovers Crush injuries; entanglement; shearing of body parts; being struck by moving objects; amputation; cutting, stabbing and puncturing – injuries may range from short-term to serious, as well as fatalities.
  • Hot parts of plant Contact with plant at high temperatures Burns
  • Fire and explosion Explosion of gases, vapours, liquids or other substances caused by operation of the plant. Shock; burns; loss of consciousness; fatalities.
  • Electricity Water near electrical equipment; plant contacting live electrical conductors; overload of electrical circuits; damaged switches, leads or cables Shock; burn; loss of consciousness; fatalities.
  • Slips, trips, and falls Uneven or slippery surfaces; poor housekeeping in the vicinity of plant; falls from heights due to lack of proper work platform or guard rails. Fractures; sprains and strains; fatalities.
  • Manual handling Constrained or awkward body posture; repetitive or awkward movements; exerting high forces; lifting heavy or awkward objects. Fractures; sprains and strains.
  • Noise Noise from pumps and motors; impact noises; shearing noises; compressed air spraying Hearing loss; fatigue

The above are hazards only and you may have others such as radiation, vibration or the presence of hazardous substances.

Risk Controls

A sample hazardous plant policy is available but more details may be included similar to the information below.

1. Procurement of plant

1.1 Purchasing new plant

Before purchasing or obtaining any plant your organisation must be satisfied that the design and construction of plant is suitable for the intended use. The plant procurer is to review the information supplied by the designer and manufacturer to make sure that the plant is suitable. A pre-purchase trial of the plant may assist with determining suitability. Specific checklists are available for items such as hoist selection.

The information supplied by the designer, manufacturer or supplier must outline residual risks and provide information about eliminating or controlling these risks.

1.2 Hiring plant

A person who hires or leases plant to another person must identify any foreseeable hazards that may arise from the plant and that has the potential to harm the health or safety of any person. Hazard identification and risk assessment is to be carried out.

Supervisors/Line Managers who procure plant are to make sure that the plant is suitable for its intended use, is free of defects and is supplied with operating instructions, service history and maintenance logbooks.

2. Plant registration

2.1 Register

Supervisors/Line Managers are responsible for maintaining a register of all plant under their control. The register is to include the following detail:

  • a unique reference for the plant
  • dates of procurement, inspections and registrations
  • defects, failures, faults and repairs

3. Maintenance requirements

3.1 Maintenance, servicing and cleaning

Maintenance servicing and cleaning of plant can present additional risks to personnel, for example personnel may be required to:

  • work on remote-controlled plant or plant subject to automatic start-up
  • by-pass or defeat interlocks or safety circuits
  • test the operation of guards, remove guards or render guards ineffective
  • force control device inputs or outputs
  • perform adjustments or measurements in proximity to hazards (moving parts, pressure, and electricity).

All plant is to be maintained, serviced and cleaned according to the manufacturer’s specifications or, in the absence of such specifications, in accordance with the Safe Work Procedures developed.

Plant is to be isolated before maintenance, service or cleaning commences. Where plant is isolated and any total or partial shutdown results this must be managed to prevent hazardous situations being created.

Where plant cannot be isolated, alternate means of preventing accidental operation are to be implemented and work conducted under controlled procedures such as a permit to work system.

Plant-specific controls relate to the risks arising from the plant or the interaction between the plant and the environment in which it is located. They may be integrated with or form part of other risk management tools. The specific controls for maintenance can be set out in:

  • engineering instructions or procedures
  • manufacturers’ and designers’ documents including handbooks, specifications, manuals and guidance material for operation and maintenance
  • Safe Work Method Statements / Safe Working Instructions

3.2 Repair

Before any repairs are undertaken on plant, personnel are to make sure the plant is isolated and in a safe condition for the work to commence. Follow the basic shutdown and isolation procedure:

  • Notification – notify all affected employees that lockout and tagout is about to occur for servicing and maintenance of plant and equipment; and in preparation for shutdown.
  • Shutdown – this is the normal procedures used to shutdown an item of plant or equipment using the operating controls. It may be pushing a stop button, opening a switch or closing a valve.
  • Isolation – this involves the activation of energy-isolating devices that have been identified as being capable of preventing any hazard to those who will be working on the plant.
  • Application of isolation equipment – this is where we physically apply the isolating devices locks and tags that have previously been discussed. This is called ‘securing the point of control’. The point of control or part at which energy isolating, blocking or dissipating devices are controlled. It is necessary to ensure that the isolation and lockout devices are only applied by the authorised person(s) doing the work. The point of attachment ensures that the energy control devices will safely and securely remain in the OFF or SAFE position. Tags must be positioned so that they can be clearly read.

Personal Danger Tags are used to control risks arising from situations where equipment is undergoing maintenance, is under repair or is being constructed or tested. The purpose of which is to ensure equipment is not operated in order to prevent injury to those working on or operating the equipment and to also prevent damage to the equipment.

Out of Service Tags are placed on plant and equipment that is out of service for repair, alteration, commissioning or decommissioning.

Tags can be purchased from any industrial or equipment safety provider. Those persons attaching a tag must include their name, contact telephone number, date and reason for attaching the tag. Only the person authorized to carry out the repairs or the Facility Manager may remove the Out or Service Tag when it has been determined that the equipment is safe to operate.

Release of stored energy – once isolation of the main energy source has occurred, and it has been physically locked and tagged out at the point of control, it then becomes necessary to make sure there are no hidden dangers. It is important to relieve, disconnect or restrain any and all of the potential, stored or residual energy. This may include, for example, completing the cycle of a flywheel, releasing steam and bleeding valves.

Repairs are to be undertaken by a competent person only, and are to be carried out:

  • according to the manufacturer’s instructions and documented procedures
  • in accordance with relevant Standards.

3.3 Modification

Modifications of plant may result in the modifier assuming the obligations of a designer or manufacturer. In the case of plant that requires design registration any modifications may require a new plant design registration certificate to be issued by WorkCover.

Modifications that require a change in design registration include all those that affect the safety of the plant, including for instance changes such as:

  • alteration of running speed (e.g. of lifts, conveyor belts, etc)
  • changes that affect the stability, reach, capacity, working load limit, etc
  • changes to drive systems
  • relocation of fixed plant to new premises (e.g. major plant machinery).

Where Supervisors/Line Managers are unsure about whether modifications affect the registration of an item of plant they are to contact the supplier of the plant to confirm, or liaise with a qualified engineer.

Before undertaking modifications, the modifier is to consult with the designer, manufacturer or relevant design authority to make sure that all safety issues have been considered. If the original designer and manufacturer cannot be contacted the modifications are to be designed and fitted by a competent person.

A person modifying the design of plant fulfills the roles of the designer of plant, under the WHS Act and WHS Regulation. This requires a risk assessment to identify hazards with the altered design.

Modification to plant is to be carried out:

  • as recommended by the manufacturer or in other documented procedures
  • in accordance with relevant Standards.

Before being returned to service after maintenance, service, cleaning, repair or modification plant is to:

  • have control measures in place to prevent or reduce risks to ALARP
  • be inspected and tested having regard to the modified design specifications and relevant Standards
  • be resubmitted for design registration (where applicable).

All forms of guarding are to be replaced prior to start-up of plant.

4. Inspection and audit of plant

Supervisors/Line Managers are to record items of plant and equipment in a Plant and Equipment Register. Make sure plant and equipment is inspected and tested according to the schedule recommended by the manufacturer/supplier.

4.1 Inspection

All plant is to be regularly inspected to make sure the equipment conforms to the requirements of function and safety. Inspection programs for plant and equipment are to be consistent with manufacturers' and legislative requirements and include the following:

  • standards against which plant is to be inspected
  • the frequency of inspections
  • safety instructions to be followed during inspection, for example, the isolation procedure
  • the procedures for particular types of inspections including:
  • periodic inspections
  • specific tests
  • repaired plant
  • modified plant
  • re-rated plant
  • the form of the report specifying any variations from normal operation, dangerous occurrences and trends.

If plant malfunctions, it is to be stopped and inspected by a competent person. Any faults that pose a potential safety hazard are to be rectified before the plant is operated again.

Inspection of plant is to be recorded and form part of a general inspection and audit process of the work site. Inspection can identify:

  • potential problems that were not anticipated during plant design or task analysis
  • deficiencies in plant associated with its use such as excessive wear and tear, corrosion and damage to plant
  • damage caused by incorrect operation or incorrect use of plant
  • adverse effects of changes in processes
  • inadequacies in control measures.


Any item of plant found to be defective during inspection is to be isolated and not used or operated until repaired or replaced. Operators are to report all faults and malfunction of any plant.

Regular monitoring and review is required to maintain plant to applicable standards of operational safety and quality. This is achieved by:

  • pre-start checks
  • daily inspections
  • scheduled inspections
  • scheduled calibration
  • service schedules
  • machine history recording and reporting
  • condition monitoring.


 4.2 Daily and pre-start inspection

Where required, the operator of plant is to perform daily and pre-start plant and equipment checks in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the Inspection and Testing requirement.

Results of inspections are to be recorded in the appropriate logbook, register or form.

See the bus inspection checklist, equipment pre-use checklist.

4.3 Scheduled inspection

A full inspection of plant and equipment is to be completed annually (recommended), or at otherwise determined frequencies. Inspections are to be conducted by a competent person and be in accordance with the manufacturers' instructions and the Inspection and Testing requirement.

Results of inspections are to be recorded in the appropriate logbook, register or form.

5. Sale or transfer of plant

Where plant is sold or transferred (including transfers between business units), Supervisors/Line Managers are to make sure that risks arising from the condition of the plant are eliminated or, if this is not reasonably practicable, controlled in accordance with the hierarchy of control to ALARP.

Where used plant (other than plant for use as scrap or as spare parts for other plant) is sold or transferred, Supervisors/Line Managers are to advise the purchaser or intended owner of the plant of any faults detected and, if appropriate, that the plant is not to be used until the faults are rectified.

All available information such as log books, records of tests/inspections, manufacturers' instructions etc are to be made available for the new owner.

6. Plant documentation

Persons involved in the commissioning, installation, use and testing, de-commissioning, dismantling and disposal of plant are to be supplied with all available information concerning safety of the plant.

All relevant information on emergency procedures relating to plant is to be displayed where it can be readily seen by persons who may be exposed to risks arising from the operation of the plant.

Where the design of plant for use at work has been contracted out, your organisation is to make sure that the person who is engaged to design the plant is provided with all relevant information relating to the plant that may affect safety.

Information should include but not be limited to:

  • the way plant is to be used to make sure it is safe, e.g. a manufacturer of a crane will place on the crane a clearly readable sign indicating the safe working load of the crane
  • information relating to transport, handling and storage of plant, e.g.
    • dimensions and weight
    • indications for handling, e.g. application points for lifting equipment
    • conditions for storage
  • information about commissioning, installing, inspecting and testing plant, e.g.
    • exposure of dangerous parts prior to the fixing of guarding
    • lifting procedures
  • the range of uses for which the plant is intended, including prohibited uses
  • requirements for maintenance and repair, e.g. nature and frequency of maintenance, disposal of hazardous by-products and consumables
  • decommissioning, dismantling and disposal of plant
  • information for emergency situations
  • effects of environmental conditions on the use of the plant
  • the results and documentation of tests and examinations carried out on the plant and its design
  • any known residual risks, that is, those that cannot be eliminated or sufficiently reduced by design and against which guarding is not totally effective
  • guidance on administrative controls
  • requirements for special tools needed to use or maintain plant
  • manufacturers instructions
  • control measures that are to be used to further reduce the risks associated with plant.

See Building and equipment register and preventative maintenance schedule forms.

7. Training and instruction

Supervisors/Line Managers and personnel required to implement the requirements of this guide must be trained in the use of the checklists, forms and associated risk management techniques. Personnel required to follow the systems of work developed by the implementation of this guide must be instructed in the relevant systems of work.

Supervisors/Line Managers need to make sure personnel and contractors are competent to use plant, and, where necessary, hold the required certificates of competence.

Workers who are likely to be exposed to plant risks and anyone supervising these workers are to be trained and provided with information and instruction in the form of a safe work procedure/safe operating procedure which should include information on:

  • the nature of the hazards and risks associated with the plant and systems of work
  • the need for, and correct use and maintenance of control measures
  • operation of plant and the procedures for safe use of the plant
  • the use, fit, testing, maintenance and storage of any personal protective equipment required
  • emergency procedures in case of a plant malfunction or other incident
  • the location of information relating to the safe use of the plant.

Certain plant requires a Certificate of Competency to operate. Persons, including trainees, without a Certificate of Competency are not permitted to operate these items of plant. e.g. forklifts, elevated work platforms.

8. Records Management

Supervisors/Line Managers who have control of any of the following plant must make and keep for the operating life of the plant records of any tests, maintenance, inspections, commissioning or alteration of plant relevant to controlling risks arising from the plant:
  • boilers categorised as being of hazard level A, B or C according to the criteria in AS 4343–2005
  • pressure vessels categorised as being of hazard level A, B or C according to the criteria in AS 4343–2005 except the following:
  • LP gas fuel vessels for automotive use covered by AS/NZS 3509:2003,
  • serially produced pressure vessels covered by AS 2971–2002,
  • pressure vessels that do not require periodic internal inspection in accordance with the criteria in Table 4.1 in AS/NZS 3788:2006
  • tower cranes
  • lifts (including escalators and moving walkways)
  • building maintenance units
  • concrete placing units (truck mounted with boom)
  • personnel and materials hoists
  • concrete placing units
  • industrial lift trucks
  • mobile cranes
  • gantry cranes with a rated capacity greater than 5 tonnes
  • bridge cranes with a rated capacity greater than 10 tonnes
  • goods (within the meaning of the Australian Dangerous Goods Code)
  • boom-type elevating work platforms
  • hoists, with a platform movement in excess of 2.4 metres, designed to lift or support people
  • mast climbing work platforms
  • vehicle hoists
  • amusement devices

Records on items of plant may include:

  • the unique plant or equipment identification number
  • plant design registration information
  • final and approved design drawings and calculations
  • relevant data from commissioning
  • compliance statements and/or test certificates
  • manufacturers' specifications
  • results of inspections
  • results of tests on safety devices
  • information on maintenance carried out
  • information on major repairs carried out
  • information on major modifications or ratings to original design
  • significant deviations from normal operating or design conditions, including breakdown or other malfunction.

Records on matters relating to plant may include:

  • results of risk assessments carried out on plant
  • information, instruction, training given to workers about how to use plant and the risks associated with plant
  • work practices used where plant is involved
  • procedures for consulting with workers
  • competencies of operators.

9. Risks associated with specific plant

Paper balers

A recycling company in WA was recently fined $50,000 over an incident which resulted in the amputation of two of a 15-year-old employee’s toes.

The recycling company was found guilty of failing to provide a safe workplace, and by that failure, causing serious harm to a worker.

The incident occurred in September 2006, when an employee was using a baling machine which uses a slow-moving hydraulic ram to compress plastic product.

The machine had three doors – an input door, a side door and an output door. When the input door was open the hydraulic ram could not operate, but the ram could still operate to eject bales when the output door was open.

The side door could be opened to allow the compressed bales to be strapped, and the hydraulic ram could move in either direction when this door was open.

Once a bale was strapped, the side door could not be fully closed until the bale was ejected through the output door.

The employees had been instructed to close the side door as far as possible after strapping the bale, and once the bale was ejected, to close the door fully before retracting the ram.

The employee who was injured was standing by the side door while the ram was retracted. The side door had not been closed.

As the ram retracted past the side door, the man’s right foot was crushed between the edge of the baler box and the ram.

Two of the man’s middle toes were crushed and had to be surgically amputated.

Anyone in control of a workplace with machinery with hazardous moving parts need to ensure adequate machine guards are in place.


Failure to convert and renew a WorkCover NSW pre-1996, 1996-2004 or expired licence to a new HRW licence before 31 December 2012 means that the licence will be cancelled and the person will be required to undergo training and assessment by a registered training organisation (RTO) before they can apply for a new HRW licence.  Safe Work NSW has produced a range of informaiton and videos related to forklift safety.

Motor Vehicles

For a large number of service provider the vehicle fleet whether cars, people movers or wheelchair vans represent a piece of plant posing hazards to workers and others which need to be controlled.

Computer workstations

General office safety is another are which disability service organisations need to address especially in terms of computer safety and workstation design.


WHS Act 

WHS Regulation

Macarthur Disability Services Plant Safety Checklist


The Industry Development Fund is delivered by National Disability Services on behalf of Family & Community Services: Ageing, Disability & Home Care.