Plant: Safety basics

Plant includes machinery, equipment, appliances, implements and tools.

On this page

  • What is plant?
  • Risk management
  • Health and safety legal duties

What is plant?

Regulation 74 of the OHS Regulations describes plant as:

  1. plant that lifts or moves persons or materials, including objects and substances such as empty receptacles, bins landfill rubbish, metals and soil
  2. pressure equipment, tractors, earthmoving machinery, lasers, scaffolds, temporary access equipment, explosive-powered tools, turbines and amusement structures, and
  3. plant that processes material by way of a mechanical action that:
    • cuts, drills, punches or grinds the material
    • presses, forms, hammers, joins or moulds the material
    • combines, mixes, sorts, packages, assembles, knits or weaves the material.

Common examples of plant

  • cranes, hoists, escalators, elevated work platforms, powered mobile plant, pressure equipment
  • tractors, earthmoving equipment, quadbikes, forklifts, harvesters, irrigation pumps, augers
  • woodworking saws, drill presses, clicking presses, bench grinders
  • power presses, die casting machines, forging hammers, plastic injection moulding machines
  • dough mixers, packaging machines, knitting machines

Risk management

The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations) set out requirements for particular items of plant. See the Compliance code: Plant for details about the requirements and practical tools to help with plant risk management.

Consult

Involving your employees in health and safety issues can result in a safer workplace. That's why consultation is an important part of risk management. In certain situations employers must consult about health and safety issues with employees and health and safety representatives (HSRs) if they have them. Read more about consultation.

Find the hazards

Find all the hazards associated with plant in your workplace. That includes hazards related to installing, erecting, commissioning, decommissioning, dismantling and using plant.

Assess the risks

nce you have identified the hazards, you need to assess the risks associated with the hazards. You don’t have to do a formal risk assessment if there is already information about the risk and how to control it.

Control risks

The OHS Regulations set out specified risk control measures for plant risks, to be used in priority order. This is called the hierarchy of control.

  1. Eliminate the risk. You must always try to do this first. For example, replace an existing machine with a new one without the risks.
  2. Use substitution, isolation or engineering controls to reduce the risk. You may need a combination of these measures. An example of substitution is using a cordless drill instead of one with a cord. Isolation could be achieved by making a sound or fume booth to operate a machine in. Engineering controls include guarding or interlocked barriers.
  3. Use administrative controls (work systems) to reduce the risk. Administrative controls include things like lock-out – tag-out systems, supervision and giving information, instruction and training.
  4. Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce the risk. PPE includes ear muffs, respirators, toe-capped footwear, hard hats and high-vis vests.

Review risk controls

Review your risk controls to make sure they are working properly. You must review and, if needed revise them if there are workplace changes that could increase risks, such as changes to the way work is done or to the equipment or substances used. You must also review them if an HSR requests.

Health and safety legal duties

The OHS Act 2004 and OHS Regulations set out specific duties about plant. See the Compliance code: Plant for full details of duties for:

  • employers
  • self-employed people
  • a person with management and control of a workplace
  • employees
  • a person who installs, erects or commissions plant
  • designers, manufacturers and suppliers of plant to be used in a workplace
  • suppliers of plant

Tools and checklists