Plant Risk Assessment Guides

Answering Plant Assessor Questions

Answering Plant Assessor Questions


Plant Assessor is a world leader in utilizing the power of the internet and associated technology to deliver intelligent solutions to assist
in the management of safe systems of work around plant & equipment.


Plant Assessor delivers to its members the benefits of extensive knowledge of Legislative requirements, Australian & International Standards,
Regulator Codes of Practice etc. combined with thousands of hours of expert risk assessment and more than 100,000 plant risk
assessments completed.


This is the first instalment in a series of articles designed to provide an insight into a range of specific risk areas that Plant Assessor users
will be asked to consider when conducting inspections.


These articles will cover everything including; minimum competency required to answer questions, the “Golden Rules” to follow when
answering questions, & details of questions related to specific types of equipment and how to determine what compliance looks like.


Who Can Conduct Plant Assessor Inspections?


The minimum knowledge requirements and skills for anyone answering Plant Assessor questions include –


  • The ability to read & write
  • A high degree of competency in dealing with, and understanding of the machinery subject of the inspection. This includes
    knowing how the machine is used, and having the ability to identify machine features


Users do not need comprehensive understanding of the risk assessment process, safety legislation or technical standards.

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Application of the Golden Rules to a Specific Question


Here we apply each of the Golden Rules to a specific Plant Assessor question addressing a risk associated with machine
controls and logical actuation.


Question – Are all controls orientated so that the movement of the control is consistent with the action of the machine
e.g. moving a control lever to the left results in the machine turning to the left?


Read the entire question – In the example provided the question relates to all controls used to operate the machine that
result in a movement of the machine. Consider how many sets of controls are on the machine you are inspecting.

Be honest – If any control does not meet any of the requirements in the question you must answer NO. The no answer results
in an action that requires rectification. Provide clarity by documenting details of the actual or potential non-compliance in the
question comments section.

Never assume – Every control must be tested to ensure it meets the full requirements of this question. Don’t assume that the
label is correct. Start the machine and test. If this is impractical, answer NO and include an appropriate comment.

Err on the side of caution – If you are unsure for any reason then it is best to answer NO. e.g. the control movements only
partially match the movement of the machine (left & right are OK but up & down movement is reversed).

Only answer Not Applicable if it is really Not Applicable – In this example the only time it can be Not Applicable is
if the machine has no controls that result in a movement of the machine.

Technical and Practical Aspects of Control Questions


There are several key things that need to be considered when answering the Plant Assessor questions for machine controls.



Poor ergonomics give rise to many long term injuries. It may seem ok
for irregular operation however repeated operation can lead to serious injury.
Reaching behind or stretching continually is a key issue to be recognised.
A classic example of this is when a Front End Loader is connected to a
tractor via the rear remotes and the controls for these are traditionally
behind the operator seat.


All controls must be labelled in a manner that allows for regular and new operators
to clearly understand what the control is for. Identifying a control in an emergency
is particularly critical.


The movement of the control must match the movement of the machine.
This is a requirement of AS4024. Just like labelling, in an emergency this is critical.
Instinct can overtake what an operator sees e.g. in an emergency the loader needs
to be lowered, instinctively the operator pushes the lever down and expects the loader
to drop however the loader is connected via the remotes and it goes up instead of down.


Are all controls in a state that allows them to be used without risk of unintentional
mis-operation such as slipping or the control breaking during use?

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