Plant health and safety guide

Dangerous plant causes many workplace deaths and serious injuries to employees each year. Guidance on this page will help employers understand hazards and risks relating to plant and explain how to reduce those risks and make the workplace safe.

On this page

  • Your legal duties
  • What is plant?
  • Injuries from plant
  • Controlling hazards and risks from plant

Your legal duties

Employers, self-employed persons, employees, designers, manufacturers and suppliers all have legal obligations to workplace safety under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations).

Find out about your occupational health and safety obligations relating to plant on WorkSafe's Plant and your legal duties page.

What is plant?

Plant is a broad term. Under the OHS Act, plant includes any machinery, equipment, appliance, implement and tool. It also includes any part of that machinery, equipment, appliance, implement or tool and anything fitted, connected or related to any of those things.

The OHS Regulations also cover plant. Part 3.5 of the OHS Regulations apply to:

  • pressure equipment
  • tractors
  • earthmoving machinery
  • lasers
  • scaffolds
  • temporary access equipment
  • explosive-powered tools
  • turbines
  • amusement structures

Unless the plant relies exclusively on manual power or is designed to be primarily supported by hand, Part 3.5 of the OHS Regulations also applies to:

  • plant that processes material by way of a mechanical action that does any of the following, including where the action is not the plant's main purpose:
    • cuts, drills, punches or grinds
    • presses, forms, hammers, joins or moulds
    • combines, mixes, sorts, packages, assembles, knits or weaves
  • plant that lifts or moves materials or people, other than ship, boat, aircraft or vehicle designed for use primarily as a means of transport on a public road or rail

Licensing and registration requirements

Using certain kinds of plant, such as forklifts, scaffolding, some cranes and pressure equipment and turbines, requires a licence from WorkSafe, and the design of some high-risk plant must be registered with WorkSafe. To find out more about licensing and registration requirements for plant, contact the WorkSafe Advisory Service.

Injuries from plant

Plant is a major cause of workplace death and injury in Victoria. There are significant risks associated with using machinery and equipment and injuries from the unsafe use of plant tend to be severe.

Examples of serious injuries caused by dangerous plant include:

  • having limbs amputated by unguarded moving parts of machines
  • being crushed by mobile plant
  • fractures from falls while accessing, operating or maintaining plant
  • electrocution or burns from plant that is not adequately protected or isolated
  • burns or scalds due to contact with hot surfaces or exposure to flames or hot fluids

Controlling hazards and risks from plant

The following steps can help control plant-related hazards and risks in your workplace.

  1. Consult

    Under the OHS Act, employers must consult with employees when identifying or assessing hazards or risks associated with plant and when making decisions about risk controls. Your employees include independent contractors you have engaged and any employees of the independent contractors who perform work you control or should control. If health and safety representatives (HSRs) have been appointed to represent employees, consultation must involve those HSRs.

    Employees can make major contributions to improving workplace health and safety. Regular, proactive consultation can help identify issues in the workplace and you, as an employer, can build a strong commitment to health and safety by including all views in the decision-making process.