Plant Risk Assessment Guides

Plant Risk Assessments form the bedrock of any plant & equipment safety system.

Plant Assessor’s guidance material in this area focuses on the practical aspects of:

  • Ensuring plant & equipment safety standards are maintained
  • Ensuring safety information relating to plant & equipment and its use is shared with and utilised by personnel
  • Conducting thorough and timely risk assessments
  • Managing plant safety in industries with specific safety requirements

 

We welcome the opportunity to discuss this guidance material. Start the conversation – fill out the contact form below.

WHAT IS A PLANT RISK ASSESSMENT (PRA)?
A PRA involves a comprehensive inspection of a piece of plant or equipment to ensure it is safe for use.

 

HOW DO I DO A PLANT RISK ASSESSMENT?
Traditionally, Plant Risk Assessments are conducted using a 4 step process:

 

If an error or oversight is made in Steps 1 to 3, this is likely to lead to fundamental flaws in the Plant Risk Assessment.

 

WHAT ARE THE PITFALLS WHEN CONDUCTING PLANT RISK ASSESSMENTS?

  • Poor knowledge of the plant being assessed & its functions
  • Poor understanding of hazards present
  • Poor understanding of the risk analysis/evaluation process
  • Poor understanding of the controls required on particular types of plant
  • Inconsistently identifying hazards, assessing risks and specifying controls
  • Failure to implement controls required by the PRA
  • PRAs incomprehensible, misunderstood and unusable in the field
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HOW TO AVOID THE PITFALLS OF PLANT RISK ASSESSMENT

The Show Stopper: Plant Safety Knowledge

The most fundamental knowledge requirement is knowledge of the plant itself. In simple terms, if an assessor does not have a comprehensive knowledge of the plant and how it works, there is no way they will be able to competently undertake a Plant Risk Assessment.

There is no way around this requirement. If you don’t know the plant, you should not attempt to conduct a Plant Risk Assessment.

Managable Pitfalls: Systemising the Plant Risk Assessment Process

The balance of the pitfalls can be managed by following a systematic approach to the Plant Risk Assessment process. A systematic approach must aim to institutionalise the knowledge required to consistently and thoroughly follow the risk assessment plan for plant.

This is achieved by providing a structured process which includes sufficient guidance to assessors to reduce subjectivity, inconsistency
and incompleteness. Further information on the critical elements of a structured Machinery Risk Assessment process is included in the table below “Addressing the Pitfalls”.

We welcome your feedback on this article or any of the content within it, please contact us to start the conversation.

 

Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information. Please contact us for further assistance

Safety is an important component to consider when purchasing a piece of plant, and needs to be incorporated into both the pre and post purchase phases of an acquisition. The following information is designed to help plant owners fulfil their duty to implement a safe system of work for plant and equipment.

 

PRE-PURCHASE PHASE
A procurement specification needs to be developed, which should include liaison with operators, and operations management, maintenance and safety personnel.  A procurement specification should consider the following attributes as a minimum:

 

  • Machine functionality and capacities

-Fit for purpose
-Technical specifications
-Reliability
-Useability & operator preference

 

  • Supplier capabilities

-Reputation & relationship
-Service reliability and parts availability
-Operator training

 

  • Total Cost of Ownership

-Purchase price & finance cost
-Operating costs & efficiency
-Maintenance requirements and costs
-Resale value/buyback arrangements

 

  • Safety

-Design compliance & risk assessment
-Ergonomics & other features
-Machine attachments
Professional fleet managers will often assign weightings to these key criteria, and score each competing supplier & plant item accordingly. This approach aims to ensure a more balanced purchase decision.


SAFETY ASPECTS DURING PRE-PURCHASE PHASE
The scope and depth of the pre-purchase process will be dictated by the size of the purchase decision. The acquisition of a major piece of plant justifies a more detailed procurement process.

 

Design Compliance and Risk Assessment

In a perfect world, all plant suppliers would understand the specific design compliance issues with all of their plant items, and provide consistent and accurate safety information in accordance with Australian Legislation.

In the real world, this is not the case, and purchasers need to ensure plant being purchased is compliant. Suppliers have a positive legal obligation to provide a risk assessment on plant supplied.

When it comes to safety features on plant, Plant Assessor is used by many organisations as a minimum standard.

These organisations require suppliers to meet the safety standards specified in Plant Assessor rather than issuing a technical specification of safety features for each purchase.

 

Ergonomics & Other Features
Whilst a risk assessment should confirm design compliance of a piece of plant, along with a range of other issues; some aspects of plant safety are more subtle or user specific.

Plant suppliers are constantly seeking to differentiate their machinery in a multitude of ways, including operator comfort and convenience. Design variances in this area are unlikely to give rise to non-compliance; however they may give rise to a preference between competing machines.

A common way to assess these features is to have suppliers conduct a demonstration and illustrate the important features of the plant. Examples of such enhancements include better visibility from the cab, easier attachment change out, or limiters and other controls to assist with safe lifting.

Once purchasers understand the different features on offer, they can then make a judgement regarding the relative appeal of the plant available.

 

Machine Attachments

Earthmoving plant is often supplemented by a range of attachments, some of which may be supplied with the plant and others may be purchased from separate attachment suppliers.

When purchasing attachments with or for a piece of plant; purchasers need to follow a similar process to ensure pre and post purchase safety requirements are managed.

Hazards and risks associated with use of attachments, including matching of attachments to “parent” plant units can become complex and need to be given suitable focus.

 

SAFETY ASPECTS DURING POST-PURCHASE PHASE
Once the purchase decision has been made, there are some very important safety issues that need to be addressed as part of the commissioning of the new item of plant.  These are most logically covered by considering the 3 key areas of Plant Assessor’s Plant Safety Management Model:

 

Safe Plant

  • Receive and review the detailed plant hazard assessment and other information from the supplier.
  • Implement a pre-operational check and rectification process.
  • Establish a maintenance regime (and records) in accordance with OEM recommendations.
  • Develop SOP’s – covering standard tasks for which the plant was designed.


Safe Environment

  • Review and update existing Task Risk Assessments and Safe Work Methods Statements for high risk Construction work on which the plant may be used.
  • Review and update existing site risk assessment for site(s) on which the plant may be used.


Safe Operator

  • Ensure relevant high risk work licences are held.
  • Conduct plant familiarisation exercise with all operators (preferably by supplier).
  • Formally verify the competency of each operator on the new plant, and keep records of that verification.


SUMMARY

Introducing new plant into any organisation involves costs and benefits.  Diligent choice of plant should ensure it meets clear minimum safety standards.  Diligent commissioning of plant should ensure the introduction of the new piece of plant does not expose operators or others to increased safety risks.  The procurement and commissioning process also allows for the safe system of work surrounding the plant to be double checked.

 

Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information. Please contact us for further assistance.

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.

ERGANOMICS
LABELING
ORIENTATION
NON SLIP PEDALS & DAMAGE TO CONTROLS

ERGONOMICS:

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.

LABELLING:

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.

ORIENTATION:

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.

NON SLIP PEDALS & DAMAGE TO CONTROLS:

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?

OBTAINING RISK ASSESSMENTS FROM SUPPLIERS

 

Plant suppliers have a positive legislative obligation to provide owners/users with a safe piece of plant, and where hazards still exist, to minimise the risks associated with those hazards and provide information to users to allow safe use.

 

Tender documents and supply terms and conditions should include clauses requiring suppliers to provide this information. Many Plant Assessor clients include something similar to the following clauses to specifically highlight this requirement.

 

“Plant Risk Assessment Required”

  1. Pursuant to the requirements of Workplace Health and Safety Legislation the supplier shall provide the purchaser with a comprehensive plant risk assessment for the plant being purchased.
  2. The plant risk assessment should contain details of:
    1. Hazards that have not been eliminated during design and/or manufacture.
    2. The risk associated with each remaining hazard.
    3. Details of risk treatments implemented by the supplier to minimise the risk of remaining hazards.
    4. Details of risk treatments recommended to be undertaken by the purchaser.
    5. The residual risks associated with each risk treatment.
    6. The purchaser uses the Plant Assessor plant risk assessment system, and would prefer suppliers to Provide risk assessments in Plant Assessor format. “Plant Assessor can be contacted on 1300 728 852 or at www.assessor.com.au”

 

By requiring this information from suppliers, not only are you saving the time and money of preparing that information yourself, you should be getting the best information possible.

 

Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information. Please contact us for further assistance.

MDG15 ASSESSMENT PURPOSE

NOTE: THIS IS AN OPTIONAL ASSESSMENT PUIRPOSE – PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU WOULD LIKE IT SWITCHED ON FOR YOU

 

If you are involved in or supply equipment to the mining and extractive industries in NSW, you will have encountered MDG15.

 

MDG is an acronym that stands for Mining Design Guideline, a term coined by the Mines Safety Regulator in NSW.

 

MDGs contain comprehensive guidance on specific safety issues, and are being increasingly used outside of NSW where the local jurisdiction does not have definitive guidelines in a particular area.

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MDG 15 (Guideline for Mobile and Transportable Equipment for Use in Mines) sets out the safety requirements for the design, manufacture and operation of Mobile and Transportable Equipment for Use in Mines. MDG15 was first published in 1992, and revised in 1994, 1997 and 2002.

 

Plant Assessor has developed a special assessment purpose which incorporates the specific additional requirements of MDG15 over and above a standard Plant Assessor assessment.

 

As this is a special assessment purpose and contains quite considerable additional inspection items, we have chosen to make it an opt-in assessment purpose so as to avoid any confusion amongst users that have no need for MDG15 assessments.

 

Some of the questions in a MDG15 assessment will require reference to OEM manuals, removing of guards and covers, and in some instances confirming certain matters with the machine’s manufacturer to ensure that the requirements are met.

 

The table below provides an overview of the more detailed application of existing PA requirements and mine department specific requirements.

 

MDG15 – ADDITIONAL ASSESSMENT REQUIREMENTS

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PLANT ASSESSOR WA MINING ASSESSMENT

With many of our clients heavily involved with mining and mining construction in Western Australia, there has been significant interest in us developing an assessment purpose specific to the WA Mines Safety Inspection Act & Regulations (1994 & 1995).

 

Plant Assessor has developed a special assessment purpose which incorporates the specific additional requirements of the WA Mines Safety Act and Regulations over and above a standard Plant Assessor assessment.

 

We are thankful for the expertise of our authorized partners in WA, Asset Management Engineers (AME) in reviewing the WA Mining Purpose.

 

AME are WA’s most experienced classified plant inspection firm, and are able to conduct on site Plant Assessor inspections for WA clients.

 

As this is a special assessment purpose and contains quite considerable additional inspection items, we have chosen to make it an opt-in assessment purpose so as to avoid any confusion amongst users that have no need for WA Mining assessments.

 

Some of the questions in a WA Mining assessment require reference to OEM manuals, removing of guards and covers, and in some instances confirming certain matters with the machine’s manufacturer to ensure that the requirements are met.

 

The table below provides an overview of the more detailed application of existing PA requirements and mine department specific requirements.

 

WA MINING – ADDITIONAL ASSESSMENT REQUIREMENTS –  see table above

Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information. Please contact us for further assistance.

By definition, a farm is a workplace under safety legislation. As the controller of the workplace the clearing sale vendor has a legal obligation to make it safe for employees, agents & clearing sale attendees.

 

Safety legislation in Australia is essentially a State responsibility. This means that requirements vary across Australia, however in relation to sale of second hand plant, the Vendor’s legal requirements are similar.

 

In essence, as a Vendor selling new or second hand plant at a clearing sale you are required to inspect equipment, identify faults, and provide purchasers with advice on faults and information in relation to the safe use of the item for sale. This is a Plant Safety Advice.

 

HOW DO I COMPLY?

The steps below outline the recommended process for dealing with clearing sale plant safety obligations.

 

  1. Create a detailed list of all items to be sold at clearing sale
  2. Review the list and identify items fitting the legislative definition of “plant”
  3. Conduct detailed inspections of all plant items
  4. Prepare Plant Safety Advices
  5. Label all plant deemed scrap/parts
  6. Provide Plant Safety Advices to Agent for provision to purchasers

 

Plant Assessor recommends that Vendors seek external assistance in complying with these legislative requirements. We can arrange for an expert to contact you to assist you to meet these legislative requirements.

 

DOWNLOAD SAFETY OBLIGATIONS/REGULATIONS/FAQS PDF FOR YOUR STATE –

Plant Assessor has published a range of papers designed to help users of plant & equipment understand how to manage safety obligations. This article further considers some specifics of Safe Plant.

 

HOW TO FORMULATE A RISK ASSESSMENT PLAN

None of us have unlimited resources to devote to plant risk assessments; therefore we apply the principles of risk management to developing a risk assessment plan.
We do this by considering two key questions:

 

  1. Which plant items should I assess, and in what order?
  2. How often do I need to reassess plant items?

 

The answers to these questions depend on the risk of the plant items. Determining the risk of plant items is partially subjective and requires consideration of a number of factors. Plant Assessor approaches this task as follows:

 

  • Step 1: Risk Ranking of Plant
    1. List all plant fleet (type/make/model/identifier/workgroup etc.)
    2. Sort list by plant type (e.g. excavators, backhoes, cranes, manufacturing plant etc.)
    3. Consider the risk of each type of plant, including:
      1. Complexity of plant item
      2. Used for and in what environment(s)
      3. Incident history
    4. Rank plant types by risk (1=high risk, 2=medium risk, 3 = low risk, 4=negligible risk)
    5. Consider workgroup experience and incident history and adjust type or individual machine risk rating accordingly

 

  • Step 2: Determining Initial Assessment Timing and Reassessment Periods

Deciding what needs to be assessed immediately and what can wait will be a function of the makeup of the fleet and the owner’s perception of the risk of plant items.

Based on experience with hundreds of plant hazard assessment plans, Plant Assessor uses the following rules of thumb in making these decisions:

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  1. All plant should be assessed before commissioning – these timeframes relate to existing fleet that has not already been assessed. Insist on a thorough risk assessment when procuring any new plant.
  2. High and medium risk plant should be individually assessed, as machines vary in design, specification and wear and tear. Type assessments are acceptable for low risk plant types. Care should be taken to make sure that all plant items in a type meet the same design criteria.

 

Plant Assessor staff are able to assist you in the development of your plan.

 

Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information. Please contact us for further assistance.

We get many requests from clients for us to show them what is involved in setting up and managing a risk assessment plan using Plant Assessor

 

Plant & equipment safety is only one aspect of business that our clients need to manage. In the daily grind it can be pushed down the priority list as other more “urgent” issues arise – however urgency generally does not equate to importance!

 

In order to help keep equipment safety on the priority list, we have built a range of functions into Plant Assessor to quickly and simply help our clients create and execute thorough risk assessment plans.

 

Over the next few feature articles, we will work through how to use Plant Assessor to set up, monitor and manage such a plan.

 

How long does it take to set up a plant & equipment safety plan using Plant Assessor?

A risk assessment plan for a plant fleet of 50 items can be set up in a couple of hours. After that couple of hours, you will have a fully scheduled assessment plan, with automatic reminders, email reporting and progress dashboards.

 

WHAT’S INVOLVED IN SETTING UP AND MANAGING A PLAN?

We regularly help Plant Assessor clients walk through the stepped process set out below –

 

  1. Fleet Entry: Entering into Plant Assessor all fleet items of the types that are to be assessed under the plan
  2. Fleet Analysis:
    1. Reviewing the makeup of the fleet and understanding its risk profile
    2. Deciding what equipment types should be included in the risk assessment plan
  3. Deciding initial assessment dates based on risk
  4. Reviewing and adjusting re-assessment periods based on risk
  5. Assigning fleet items to assessors
  6. Monitoring and review:
    1. The assessments dashboard
    2. The scheduling dashboard
    3. Weekly and monthly email reports (push notifications)
  7. Periodic review of fleet and the plan

 

The balance of this article will focus on steps 1 & 2 above

ENTERING FLEET INTO PLANT ASSESSOR

In order to use Plant Assessor’s risk rating and scheduling functionality – we need to start by entering the plant & equipment fleet into Plant Assessor.


Should I put every item in my fleet list into Plant Assessor – even small plant?

Many Plant Assessor clients enter their small plant items to Plant Assessor – not necessarily to conduct a full risk assessment on them – but to use Plant Assessor digital pre-start checks on these items. Each client’s situation is different, but for many clients it is not reasonably practicable to conduct full risk assessments on small plant, and therefore pre-start checks act as a surrogate for a risk assessment.When setting up an initial risk assessment plan, we suggest that clients focus on what they consider to be higher risk items in their fleet. We often assist clients make this judgement during this process.

 

Once you have decided what you want to add to Plant Assessor, add fleet items in the home screen using the + ADD MACHINE button (LHS, green).
Alternatively, Plant Assessor can assist in getting your fleet in as well – please contact us to find out how.

FLEET ANALYSIS

In analysing the fleet, we really want to focus on the overall and relative risk of the fleet categories and items in the list, which will set us up to decide on initial assessment dates and consider the issue of reassessment periods.

 

Plant Assessor’s assessment scheduling function includes pre-determined machine risk ratings for every make and model of equipment in the system. These risk ratings are fully adjustable and tailorable to each client’s circumstances and risk appetite.

 

Once scheduling is switched on, in order to review and manipulate fleet and machine risk ratings, we simply export the fleet out of Plant Assessor and into an excel spreadsheet.

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Sorting this data by risk rating (high to low) will give us a very clear picture of the fleet risk profile. This allows decisions to be easily made regarding which items need to be prioritise, and how many assessments should be conducted in the first 12 month period.

 

SUMMARY

So those are steps 1 and 2 of the plan setup process. For a 50 item risk assessment plan, these steps will take around 30-60 minutes provided fleet information is easily obtained. Stay tuned for the next instalment in the series, which will investigate the next 3 steps in the process:

 

      Step 3: Deciding initial assessment dates based on risk

 

      Step 4: Reviewing and adjusting re-assessment periods based on risk

 

      Step 5: Assigning fleet items to assessors

 

For more information, or to start your plan, please contact us

 

Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information. Please contact us for further assistance.

TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS ON WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN INSPECTING HYDRAULIC EXCAVATORS

 

This is the first of a new range of articles designed to help with more information on important hazards and safety features on various types of plant & equipment.

 

When we inspect a hydraulic excavator using Plant Assessor, the first thing we need to do is to enter the make and model of the machine, and its unique identifier (serial number). The best place to start is by locating the manufacturer’s machine identification plate.

 

For most excavators the manufacturers ID plate is on the outside of the operator platform/cabin adjacent the boom connection point. The serial number is generally on the plate however if not it will be stamped on the chassis in this area. Sometimes you will need to wipe off grease or dirt to see it.

 

Next you will need to identify and select the machine’s features and attachments. This is a simple check box process in Plant Assessor. Once that is complete, it is time to consider the specific controls required to manage the hazards and risks on your machine.

 

Plant Assessor walks you through consideration of various “families” of controls specific to the machine you are inspecting. The questions are grouped logically, which helps streamline the inspection process.
Here are some tips to help make sure you get it right when inspecting hydraulic excavators:

Hydraulic-Excavators

Whilst this is not a comprehensive list of issues requiring attention when conducting a plant risk assessment on a hydraulic excavator, it covers many of the higher risk issues. We will consider other types of plant & equipment in future articles.

 

In the meantime, if you wish to learn more about how to better manage your plant & equipment safety, please contact us.

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Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information. Please contact us for further assistance.

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