What you need to know about conducting risk assessments
At Plant Assessor, we take legislative obligations, Australian and International Standards, Codes of Practice, and the risk-assessment process, and combine them with our extensive industry experience to create tailor-made, machine-specific risk assessments.
Basically, we know it, so you don’t have to. So you can rest assured that Plant Assessor's digital risk assessments are relevant to your machines, and up-to-date with the latest legislation, standards and codes of practice.
There are over 110,000 models of machinery in our database. When you fire up a digital risk assessment survey in Plant Assessor, the questions will be specific to the machine you’ve selected, who you are, where you’re using the machine, and the purpose of the assessment.
Once you’ve completed the risk assessment survey, a risk management report will be generated, detailing machine risks and hazards, and required actions.
But who can actually conduct a Plant Assessor machinery risk assessment? And what are the golden rules to consider when answering the questions?
Who can conduct a Plant Assessor risk assessment?
Risk assessments can look complicated – and you might think it requires someone with a lot of legislative and technical know-how to complete.
But you don’t need any special licence to conduct a digital risk assessment; you don’t need to know all the ins-and-outs of the risk assessment process, or have memorised technical standards. You just need to be able to understand the questions, and have a good knowledge of the machine in question.
In fact, the minimum requirements for anyone answering a Plant Assessor risk assessment are:
The ability to read and write
A high degree of competency in dealing with, and understanding the machinery, such as being able to identify specific parts of the machine and their use, and how the machine is going to be operated.
Assuming that’s you, there are a few golden rules to consider when answering the questions. These make sure nothing is missed, and the assessment is a true reflection of the machine in question.
5 Golden Rules to answering Plant Assessor risk assessment questions
1. Read the entire question
If pressed for time, it can be easy to assume the intent of a question and quickly answer before moving on to the next. But many Plant Assessor risk assessment questions have multiple parts, so it’s critical to read the entire question, and ensure it’s understood before answering.
For example, a question relating to a specific control may ask for a specific answer such as ‘N/A’ rather than ‘No’ if it’s not applicable. Or may refer to all controls related to the movement of the machine.
Best practice is to read the question twice and take a moment to consider all aspects of it before answering.
2. Be honest
The Plant Assessor risk assessment process relies on the honesty of the assessor. If there is a fault or hazard, it must be recorded. This is part of your WHS obligations, and there can be huge financial penalties if an incident occurs.
Not to mention a machinery risk assessment’s purpose is to keep operators safe. Using a machine that has potential safety issues can be fatal.
Answer honestly, and provide clarity by documenting details of non-compliance in questions and comments section of your Plant Assessor risk assessment.
3. Never assume
‘It was fine yesterday’ doesn’t cut it in the risk assessment process. Every risk control must be sighted or tested, and made sure to fully comply with the question before answering.
Don’t assume: Start the machine and test it. If you can’t, then answer the question ‘No’, and comment appropriately in the questions/comments section of your Plant Assessor risk assessment.
4. Err on the side of caution
If you have a reason to be unsure whether there’s a risk or hazard, or are unable to test the control properly, then answer the assessment question ‘No’. It’s the safe thing to do.
Further investigation can always be done to accurately establish whether a machine is safe; but climbing into the cab with a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude can lead to disastrous consequences.
5. Only ever answer ‘Not Applicable’ if it’s genuinely ‘Not Applicable’
You’ll often have the option to answer a Plant Assessor question as ‘N/A’ – but most questions will be applicable. As with being honest, it’s important to answer questions ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ if possible, as this will provide a true assessment of the machine in question.
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.
Non slip pedals and 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?
Don’t have the time?
We understand that following the above rules and conducting a thorough, digital risk assessment of all your machines can be time consuming. That’s why we have a team of machine specialists that can take care of your machinery risk assessments for you. Our Professional Services team are standing by to:
Travel to you, with trained machinery experts
Conduct any required risk assessments
Photograph and catalogue machinery in Plant Assessor
Supply and fit safety decals
Assist you in understanding and managing any outstanding actions
Ensure plant and equipment meets your legal obligations
For a quote, get in touch on 1300 728 852 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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.