Plant includes any machinery, equipment, appliance, container, implement and tool, and includes any component or anything fitted or connected to any of those things.

This includes items as diverse as lifts, cranes, computers, machinery, conveyors, forklifts, vehicles, power tools and amusement devices.

Licences are required to operate some items of plant, such as some types of cranes.

Some items of plant and plant designs must be registered before being used at a workplace.

Employer responsibilities

Employers (PCBUs) have a responsibility to provide and maintain safe plant and to ensure safe use, handling and storage of plant. The Managing the risks of plant in the workplace - Code of Practice provides practical guidance on how to manage health and safety risks associated with managing risks of plant in the workplace.

If you have management or control of new or second-hand plant, including as the designer, manufacturer, supplier or importer, you have a responsibility to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that the plant is without risks to the health and safety of any person.

Each item of plant you purchase or are supplied must come with information about the plant or its design - including the purpose for which it was designed or manufactured, the test results and any conditions necessary for the safe use of the plant.

Managing risks

To identify hazards associated with plant, consult your workers, review safety information (eg technical standards or information provided with the plant) or review any incident records and data (eg records of workplace incidents, plant inspection reports and maintenance logs).

Undertake a risk assessment and consider what could happen if someone is exposed to a hazard and the likelihood of it happening. For example, if there are people or other items of plant in the vicinity, what effect do they have on the likelihood or consequence?

If there are other businesses involved with plant at your workplace (eg if you own or manage an on-hire business and your workers undertake work at other workplaces), then you should exchange information with the host business to determine if your workers could be exposed to hazardous plant, and what each of you will do to control any associated risks.

If you use plant (eg mobile plant such as a forklift) at a workplace that is shared with other businesses, you should talk to those businesses about the risks your plant could cause their workers and work together to manage the risks.

Controlling risks

The Managing the risks of plant in the workplace - Code of Practice contains specific information on controlling risks from purchase to disposal (including any applicable competency requirements) for:

  • purchasing (including second-hand) and hiring plant
  • installation and commissioning of plant
  • making changes
  • inspecting plant
  • maintenance, repair and cleaning of plant
  • storing plant
  • decommissioning, dismantling and disposing of plant.

The Code also contains specific control measures in relation to:

In many cases, a combination of control measures will provide the best solution. For example, protecting workers from flying debris when using a concrete cutting saw may involve guarding the blade, isolating the work area and using personal protective equipment (PPE) such as a face shield.

When choosing the most appropriate control measure, the following hierarchy of controls should be considered:

  • eliminate the risk
  • substitute
  • isolate the risk or apply engineering controls (eg using concrete barriers to separate mobile plant from workers)
  • use administrative controls (eg safe work procedures)
  • use PPE.

Risk control measures may need to be reviewed after any incident, or when there's been a change to plant or work practices.