The Polish people have an expression that is a much more clever way of saying “not my problem” but, with regards to plant & equipment safety obligations, if you supply the ‘monkey’ then you are intrinsically linked to the process.
Let me be clear. If you supply plant or equipment (be it selling, hiring it or providing to a contractor) you have a range of obligations under work health and safety laws.
WHS legislation around the supply of plant is somewhat complex. It applies layers of obligations upon the various parties in the supply chain from designers through to manufacturers, importers, distributors, equipment dealers, hire companies and, ultimately, the end user.
These regulations differ from state-to-state making it difficult for fleet managers, resellers and plant suppliers to ensure they meet their obligations across the country.
Plant suppliers in all jurisdictions have a legal obligation to follow the hazard identification and risk assessment process and provide safety information to purchasers & hirers.
What’s the rule for my State or Territory?
With the exception of Victoria and WA, all Australian states and territories agreed to adopt model work health and safety laws published by Safe Work Australia in 2012. Let’s refer to these as harmonised jurisdictions.
Specific information relating to the sale and hire of machinery in these two states is available on the Plant Assessor website.
Irrespective of whether you are in harmonised jurisdictions, Victoria, or WA, once you decide to sell or hire out a piece of plant or equipment you have a range of legal obligations surrounding risk management and provision of information.
The exact obligations you have as a plant supplier will depend upon what role you play in the supply chain and whether the equipment is new or second hand, however, it is generally accepted that the most practical way to meet these obligations is to conduct a plant risk assessment on the equipment for sale and provide it to the purchaser or hirer.
This process sees you provide written notice to the buyer on the condition of the plant (including identified faults for second hand plant), along with information on safety features and controls in place and required.
For plant suppliers, a plant risk assessment is a capstone document which both considers whether the plant is compliant with relevant safety requirements (Legislation & Australian Standards etc.) whilst also providing information to the buyer/hirer to help them meet their obligations in ensuring the plant is used safely.
As much of the equipment sold in Australia is manufactured overseas, it is not uncommon for the risk assessment process to highlight gaps in risk controls, and opportunities to upgrade controls to meet Australian requirements.
If you are selling an item of machinery for scrap or spare parts, you should confirm that in writing to the purchaser, and mark the equipment accordingly.
Safety regulators provide further information on plant supplier obligations in the form of Codes of Practice and other guidance material.
Two important pieces of guidance for plant suppliers and users in harmonised states include the Code of Practice for Managing Risks of Plant in the Workplace, and the National Guidance Material for the Safe Design, Manufacture, Import and Supply of Plant.