Procurement of Safe Plant
Safety is an important component to consider during the procurement of safe 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, in part by procuring safe palnt.
A procurement specification needs to be developed during the process of procuring safe plant, 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
- Usability & operator preference
- 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
- 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 of procuring safe plant 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 and 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.
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 procurement of safe plant has been completed, 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:
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 SOPs covering standard tasks for which the plant was designed.
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.
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.
Introducing new plant into any organisation involves costs and benefits. The procurement of safe plant should ensure the machine meets clear minimum safety standards. Diligent commissioning of plant should ensure the introduction of the new piece of equipment 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.
If you would like information on procuring safe plant for local government, check out our guide How to procure safe plant and equipment - a guide for local government
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.