3.5 Plant

Part 3.5 of the Regulations deals with Plant and seeks to protect people at work against risks to health or safety arising from plant and systems of work associated with plant (tools, equipment, machinery, etc).

Below is a summary only. Always ensure that you have checked the full text of the regulations before taking any action.

More advice on plant can be found in the 1995 Code of Practice for Plant - though this relates specifically to the previous regulations, it is still a source of information until such time as it is replaced with a Compliance Code. WorkSafe Victoria has commenced planning for the development of the Compliance Code (2015).

The objective of these Regulations is to protect people at work against risks to health or safety arising from plant and systems of work associated with plant.

What is plant?

Plant is defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 ('the Act') as:

  1. any machinery equipment appliance implement and tool; and
  2. any component of any of those things; and
  3. anything fitted, connected or related to any of those things.

3.5.1 Application of Part (What plant is covered by the regulations?)

The following types of plant:

  • plant which processes material by way of a mechanical action that:
    • cuts, drills, punches or grinds the material; or
    • presses, forms, hammers, joins or moulds the material; or
    • combines, mixes, sorts, packages, assembles, knits or weaves the material, and
  • plant designed to lift or move people or material - eg: lifts, escalators, cranes, fork-lifts, hoists, vehicle hoists; and elevating work platforms.
  • pressure equipment - eg: boilers; and pressure equipment such as sterilisers, autoclaves, LPG road tankers, air receivers, refrigeration and air-conditioning vessels.
  • tractors
  • earth-moving machinery - eg: bulldozers, excavators, front-end loaders, backhoes, skid steer type front-end loaders, scrapers, dredges, draglines, and face shovels.
  • lasers - eg: those used in the building and construction and agricultural industries for levelling and aligning; and industry for cutting work-pieces.
  • scaffolds - eg: prefabricated scaffolds (modular, frame, tower frame), swing stages, tube and coupler scaffolds, bracket scaffolds; and ladder bracket scaffolds
  • temporary access equipment - eg: abseiling equipment, workboxes suspended by cranes; industrial safety nets; and individual fall arrest systems
  • explosive power tools
  • turbines - eg: hydroelectric, steam and gas turbines
  • amusement structures - eg: coin in the slot amusement rides; ferris wheels; roller coasters; toboggan rides; merry-go-rounds; and train rides.

Is all plant covered by the regulations?

No, the regulations deal with certain types of plant, and do not cover the following:

  • plant which is manually powered;
  • plant which is primarily supported by hand;
  • ships, boats, or aircraft; or
  • vehicles designed to be used primarily as a means of transport on public roads or rail.

However, Section 21(2)(a)&(b) of the Act covers all plant, and the employer must ensure that plant (and its use, handling, storage and transport) is safe and without risks to health. (see the summary of employer duties under the OHS Act.)

Main Sections of the Regulations

The Regulations specify duties for:

  • Designers of plant (Division 2): hazard id; guarding; operator's controls; stop controls and emergency stop devices; warning devices; provision of information to manufacturer; hazard id in design during manufacture; records and information, including any standards or engineering principles used.
  • Manufacturers of plant (Division 3): control of risk; information from designer; records and information.
  • Suppliers of plant (Division 4) - includes importers - have a general duty to ensure that hazard id and risk control measures as set out in Divisions 2 & 3 have been carried out in relation to the design and manufacture of the plant BEFORE it is supplied.  With regards to tractors specifically, suppliers cannot supply any manufactured/imported into Victoria after July 1981unless they are fitted with full roll-over protection. This division also includes agents who sell plant.   
  • Employers (Division 5) - for more detail, see below.
  • Self-employed persons (Division 6): generally, the self-employed have the same duties with regard to plant as an employer.  
  • Plant designs and certain items of plant to be registered (Division 7): The regulations require that the design (and alteration) of certain items of plant be registered, as well as the registration of the plant in the workplace.   These are listed in Schedule 2 (Parts 1 & 2 respectively) of the regulations and include items such as pressure equipment, tower, mobile and other cranes, lifts, amusement structures, some hoists, prefabricated scaffolding, etc. The regulations allow for recognition of interstate designs and registrations.

Division 5 - Duties of employers who use plant

Division 5 of the regulations, covering the duties of the employer, is probably the most important section for health and safety representatives to be familiar with.

Subdivision 1

This division only applies to plant under the management or control of the employer.

Subdivision 2 - hazard identification, risk assessment and control

3.5.23 Hazard Identification

The employer must identify all hazards associated with the installation, commissioning, decommissioning, dismantling, erection and use of plant and the systems of work associated with that plant.

3.5.24 Control of risk

The employer must eliminate any risks that have been identified under regulation 3.5.23. If it is not "reasonably practicable" to eliminate the risk, then it must be controlled according to this order:

  1. substituting with plant that has a lower level of risk; or
  2. using engineering controls; or
  3. isolating the plant from people.

ONLY if it is not reasonably practicable to reduce the risk using the above controls can the employer control the risk/s with administrative controls or personal protective equipment (PPE).

3.5.25 Guarding

This regulation provides a lot of detail regarding guarding of machines. Basically, IF the employer uses guarding as a control measure, then the employer must make sure it prevents access to the danger point or area of the plant. In other words, if the guarding is inadequate, it is the employer's responsibility to rectify this.

Other parts of this regulation stipulate further requirements, namely:

  • if access is not required duting operations, maintenance or cleaning, then the guarding is to be a permanently fixed physical barrier;
  • if access is required, the guarding is to be an interlocked physical barrier;
  • alternatives if the above are not reasonably practicable;
  • guarding or insulating pipes or other parts of the plant to eliminate/reduce risks associated with heat or cold;
  • ensuring that by-passing or disabling the guarding, whether deliberately or by accident, is a difficult as possible;
  • ensure that the guarding will control the risk of parts being ejected from the plant.

3.5.26 - 3.5.28 Operator's controls, operational stop controls and emergency stops and warning devices

These regulations cover the identification, location and guarding of operator controls; measures the employer must take to minimise risk if plant needs to be operated during maintenance and cleaning; plant with operation by more than one person; emergency stop and warning devices.  The aim is to ensure that these features designed to protect an operator or other employee are  properly fitted and  functional.

3.5.29 Installation, etc of plant

The employer must ensure that:

  • there is sufficient space around plant to allow safe operation; and
  • the layout does not affect safe entry to and exit from the workplace; and
  • neither commissioning or decommissioning occurs until it is safe to do so; and
  • these processes include inspections and monitoring of risks.

3.5.30 Use of plant

The employer must ensure that:

  • plant is inspected to monitor any associated risks; and
  • measures are taken to prevent unauthorised alterations or interference with the plant

3.5.31 Record of inspection and maintenance

An employer must ensure that any record of inspections and maintenance carried out on certain types of plant (as referred to in items 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 1.14 and 1.16 of Schedule 2; amusement devices, certain boilers, lifts, and certain pressure vessels) is retained for the period the employer has management or control of the plant. 
(Note: the above is as amended effective July 1, 2014)

3.5.32 Plant not in use

The employer must ensure that when plant is not in use, it does not create a risk.

Subdivision 3 - Control of risk in relation to specific plant

Regulations 3.5.33 - 3.5.43 deal with additional employer duties in relation to particular types of plant - check the regulations if any of these types of plant are in the workplace:

3.5.34 & 3.5.35: Powered mobile plant - the employer must take measures to eliminate, or if not reasonably practicable, to reduce the risk of the plant overturning, of objects falling on the operator, of an operator being ejected from the plant, of the plant colliding with pedestrians or other objects, and that no person other than the operator rides on the mobile plant (unless there is an equal level of protection provided). The mobile plant must also have warning devices.

3.5.36: Tractors - must have roll-over protection

3.5.37 & 3.5.38: Industrial lift trucks - must have lifting attachments appropriate to the loads being lifted or moved, used only in manner that is safe, and has warning devices.

3.5.39: Electrical plant and electrical hazards - the employer must ensure that:

  1. if damage to plant creates an electrical hazard, it is disconnected from the power supply and not used until damaged part is repaired or replaced;
  2. electrical plant or plant exposed to electrical hazard is not used in conditions that are likely to give rise to electrical hazards; and
  3. appropriate permit to work systems are provided to avoid inadvertent energising of plant that has been isolated but not physically disconnected from the electrical supply.

3.5.40: Plant used to lift or suspend loads, including people and materials - ensuring that such plant is specifically designed for the purpose, lifting attachments, how loads are lifted and suspended, and specific requirements with regard to the lifting of people, etc. This regulation does not apply to plant used in connection with stunt work, acrobatics or theatrical performances.

3.5.41 & 3.5.42 Lifts - ensuring that. with regards to lift wells, measures are taken to eliminate/reduce the risks of a person falling down the lift well, being hit by falling objects, or by the movement of the lift car. The employer must also ensure the safety of people travelling in any lift requiring registration and affix a notice stating the working load of the lift.

3.5.43: Scaffolds - the employer must ensure that:

  1. apart from erecting or dismantling the scaffold, no work is performed from the scaffold unless is complete; and 
  2. the scaffold is secure and can support the work to be performed on it; and 
  3. on becoming aware that the scaffold or its supporting structure is in an unsafe condition, appropriate repairs, alterations or additions are carried out before it is used; and
  4. if a scaffold is left unattended, people who would not ordinarily be using the scaffold are prevented from gaining access to it.

Subdivision 4 - Other duties

3.5.44 Review of risk control measures

 The employer must do this:

  • Before plant is used for the first time; or
  • before any alterations to the way it is used or in the system of work (including if the plant is moved); or
  • if new or additional information about the hazards or risks relating to the plant or its associated systems of work becomes available; or
  • after any incident involving plant or its associated systems of work notifiable under Part 5 of the Act occurs; or
  • if, any other reason, the risk control measures do not adequately control the risks; or
  • after receiving a request from a health and safety representative.
3.5.45 Information,instruction and training

The employer must ensure that employees likely to be exposed to risks relating to plant or its associated systems of work, and any person supervising the employees, are trained and provided with information and instruction in -

  1. the processes used for hazard identification and control of risk; and
  2. the safety procedures associated with the use of plant at the workplace; and
  3. the use, fit, testing and storage of personal protective equipment (PPE) if this forms part of the risk control measures.

The employer must also ensure that any person involved in a plant activity (eg installing, testing, dismantling, disposing, maintaining, etc) is provided with any information available to the employer on how this can be carried out so as to ensure the risk eliminated (or if not reasonably practicable, reduced).

3.5.45(A) Notification of Incidents

For the purposes of Section 37(2)(h) of the OHS Act, the collapse, overturning, failure or malfunction of, or damage to, any plant referred to in regulation 3.5.31 is prescribed.

Division 6 - Duties of self-employed persons

3.5.46 Self-employed person to have the same duties as employer

A self-employed person must comply with the requirements of this division - Division 5 - (except regulation 3.5.45) as if that person were an employer.

Division 7 - Registration of plant designs

This division requires that the design (and altered design) of certain items of plant (as specified in Schedule 2) must be registered

See Also:

Last amended July 2015


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