Machinery Safety & Hazard Guidance

Neutral Start Controls

Neutral Start Controls on Plant and Vehicles

 

The latest in our series of articles relating to common plant hazards and controls focuses on the hazards associated with uncontrolled movement of plant or vehicles, and the importance of neutral start controls.

 

Where there is a risk of uncontrolled movement at startup, a Plant Assessor inspection requires assessors to determine whether a neutral start control is in place.

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PLANT ASSESSOR QUESTION

Does this item of plant have a working neutral start control fitted?

 

WHAT MACHINES HAVE THIS QUESTION IN THE SURVEY?

Plant Assessor asks this question on all mobile plant and complex fixed plant.

 

WHAT IS A “NEUTRAL START CONTROL”?

A neutral start control is a risk treatment that ensures a machine is in a “neutral” condition during start up.

 

WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL HAZARDS AND THE RISK?

The potential hazards include collision, crushing, cutting, entanglement and striking.

 

The risks associated with starting a piece of plant when not in the neutral condition are the potential for these hazards to cause harm or injury. For example, starting vehicles or mobile plant “in gear” will most likely result in plant lurching forward or backward, creating the risk of collision, striking or crushing injuries to bystanders or an operator starting the unit from ground level.

 

LEGISLATION & REGULATOR GUIDANCE

 

All States & Territories except Victoria & Western Australia
WHS Regulations 2011

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Code of Practice (continued for all States & Territories except Victoria & Western Australia)

  • Managing Risks of Plant in the Workplace Code of Practice – Appendix B Hazard Checklist
  • Crushing – Can anyone be crushed due to uncontrolled or unexpected movement of the plant?

 

Victoria

Occupational Health & Safety Regulations 2007

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Western Australia

Occupational Safety & Health Regulations 1996

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Australian Standards

AS4024.1201: 2014 – General Principles for Design – Risk Assessment & Risk Reduction: Clause 6.2.11 Applying Inherently safe design measures to control systems

 

AS4024.1603-2006 Design of controls, interlocks and guards – Prevention of unexpected start up

 

WHAT TO DO IF THE PLANT OR VEHICLE LACKS A NEUTRAL START CONTROL?

 

There are a number of ways to ensure that plant is in a neutral configuration during start up. A competent mechanic or electrician will be able to install many of these easily.

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CONTROL EFFICACY

 

As with any risk treatment, the possibility that the treatment may be bypassed (unintentionally or deliberately) should be reduced as far as possible. Any device fitted must also be sturdy. A malfunctioning neutral start device is more likely to be bypassed and rendered ineffective therefore exposing the operator and bystanders to the original hazard.

 

 

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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