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A lack of manufacturing plant risk assessment is a major cause of workplace death and injury in Australian workplaces.
There are significant risks associated with using plant and severe injuries can result from the unsafe use of plant including:
- Limbs amputated by unguarded moving parts of machines;
- Being crushed by mobile plant;
- Sustaining fractures from falls while accessing, operating or maintaining plant;
- Electric shock from plant that is not adequately protected or isolated; and
- Burns or scalds due to contact with hot surfaces, or exposure to flames or hot fluids.
Other risks include hearing loss due to noisy plant and musculoskeletal disorders caused by manually handling or operating plant that is poorly designed.
The WHS Regulations include specific duties for persons who conduct a business or undertaking involving the management or control of plant (persons with management or control of plant) including requirements to:
- Manage the health and safety risks associated with plant;
- Prevent unauthorised alterations to or interference with plant; and
- Use plant only for the purpose for which it was designed unless the proposed use does not increase the risk to health or safety.
When identifying hazards you should think about all the activities that may be carried out during the life of the plant at your workplace, such as installation, commissioning, operation, inspection, maintenance, repair, transport, storage and dismantling. For each of these activities, you should consider whether your manufacturing plant could:
- Cause injury due to entanglement, falling, crushing, trapping, cutting, puncturing, shearing, abrasion or tearing;
- Create hazardous conditions due to harmful emissions, fluids or gas under pressure, electricity, noise, radiation, friction, vibration, fire, explosion, moisture, dust, ice, hot or cold parts; and
- Cause injury due to poor ergonomic design, for example if operator controls are difficult to reach or require high force to operate.
Other factors to consider include:
- The condition of the plant, for example its age, its maintenance history and how frequently the plant is used.
- The suitability of the plant, for example is it actually being used for its intended purpose?
- The location of the plant, for example what is its impact on the design and layout of the workplace and are workers able to access the plant without risk of slips, trips or falls?
- Abnormal situations, for example what abnormal situations, misuse or fluctuation in operating conditions can you foresee?
The first step to establishing a systematic, pro-active approach to managing health and safety in the workplace is a comprehensive plant risk assessment. Our experienced consultants can undertake plant risk assessment to identify and assess potential hazards of you plant and equipment.