Plant: a definition
Plant includes any machinery, equipment, appliance, container, implement and tool, and includes any component or anything fitted or connected to those things.
- Plant can be as diverse as lifts, cranes, computers, machinery, scaffolding components, conveyors, forklifts, vehicles, power tools and amusement devices.
Risks to health and safety
In Australian workplaces, plant is a major cause of death and injury and poses risks to health and safety throughout its lifecycle. Risks include:
- limbs amputated by unguarded moving parts
- being crushed by plant
- fractures from falls while accessing, using or maintaining plant
- electric shocks from energised plant
- musculoskeletal problems from manually handling or using poorly designed plant
- burns or scalds from exposure to hot surfaces, flames or liquids
- hearing loss.
Work health and safety duties
Plant designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers all have important roles to ensure, so far is reasonably practicable, the plant they design, manufacture, import or supply is without risks to the health and safety of people who:
- assemble it
- use it
- store it
- decommission, dismantle or dispose of it
- are exposed to the plant in a workplace or are affected by its use.
Obtaining and providing information
- Information should flow from plant designers to manufacturers, manufacturers to suppliers, and from importers and suppliers to end-users.
The information should cover:
- the intended purpose of the plant
- the results of any calculations, analysis, testing or examination
- any conditions necessary to ensure that using, handling, storing, constructing, manufacturing, assembling, decommissioning, dismantling or disposing of the plant is without risks to health and safety.
- Designers include engineers, industrial designers and designers of plant systems, for example software and electrical systems.
Schedule 5 to the model WHS Regulations sets out the types of plant design and items of plant that must be registered. These are known as ‘registerable plant’.
Designers must register a plant design if:
- it has not already been design registered
- you alter the plant design by modifying the plant and the alterations to the design may affect health and safety.
Anyone who modifies plant can be a designer if the modification wasn’t designed by someone else.
Designers should incorporate health and safety risk management in the design process that involves:
- establishing the intended use of the plant, its functions and limitations
- identifying hazards and assessing and controlling risks including through researching and consulting.
Designers must eliminate or minimise risks, so a far is reasonably practicable, for a number of specific plant hazards including confined spaces, manual tasks and noise. They also have duties relating to the design of operator controls, guarding and emergency stop controls.
For more information see the Guide for safe design of plant.
Plant importers and suppliers
To help importers and suppliers comply with their obligations, they should confirm they are being provided safe plant. To do this they could inspect and test the supplied plant and inspect or get third party verification of the manufacturing process.
Importers and suppliers must provide information on the intended purpose, the results of relevant calculations, analysis, testing or examination, and the conditions necessary to use the plant safely. Some or all of this information may be available from the manufacturer. If not, the importer should test and examine the plant to develop the information needed.
Importers and suppliers also have plant design registration responsibilities. They must not supply plant if it requires design registration and it is not registered.
For more information see the Guide for importing and supplying safe plant.
To meet their duty to manufacture plant that is safe for use in the workplace manufacturers should:
- follow the designer’s specifications
- arrange tests and examinations of the plant specified by the designer, or as may be necessary, to obtain the information required for the supplier or end user.
Manufacturers must eliminate or minimise risks, so a far is reasonably practicable, for a number of specific plant hazards including confined spaces, manual tasks and noise. They also have duties in relation to the manufacture and installation of guarding and marking registered items of plant.
Manufacturers must provide information on the intended purpose, the results of relevant calculations, analysis, testing or examination, and the conditions necessary for anyone the plant is supplied to, to use it safely.
Second hand plant
Where second hand plant is being supplied, the supplier must ensure that any faults in the plant are identified and that the buyer is notified of these. The supplier must also give the buyer information about the plant's condition.
If the second hand plant is to be used for scrap or spare parts, the supplier must inform the buyer in writing or by marking the plant that it is supplied for scrap or spare parts only and is not to be used in its current form.
Selling used agricultural plant at clearing sales
Suppliers’ duties also apply to sellers’ agents like auctioneers, unless the agent does not control the supply and has no authority to make decisions about the supply.
- For example agents selling used agricultural plant at farm clearing sales don’t take possession of the plant, have little or no control of the supply, and are not considered to be suppliers. In these limited circumstances, the suppliers’ duties will only apply to the seller—not their agent.
For more information, see the Guide for manufacturing safe plant.
SWA is not a regulator and cannot advise you about plant design, supply and registration compliance. If you need help, please contact your work health and safety regulator.