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Unsafe Machinery

Posted by Andy Perry on 8 June 2022

A review of a recent prosecution in South Australia is a subtle reminder to employers and others, to ensure plant and machinery imported from other countries meets Australian legislation and standards.

The recent prosecution can be viewed at: https://www.safework.sa.gov.au/news-and-alerts/news/news/2022/bottling-company-fined-$120,000-for-exposing-workers-to-unsafe-electrical-equipment-and-failing-to-comply-with-a-prohibition-notice

Unsafe plant and machinery can cause a significant injuries to persons being exposed to these hazards as a result of limited training or knowledge of the operation of the equipment. Employers must provide the employees with any necessary information, instruction, training, or supervision to enable them to perform their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health. This duty also extends to independent contractors (including any employees of the independent contractor and labour hire workers) engaged by the employer in relation to matters over which the employer has control.

Information, instruction, and training must cover the nature of hazards associated with plant and machinery, including the need for risk control measures, and how to properly use them. For example, ensuring employees understand the hazards associated with plant, including how to follow safety procedures and use risk control measures implemented for their protection, as described in the compliance code for plant. https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/resources/compliance-code-plant

Moreover, if any person modifications or alterations the design of the plant or a component of that device that person will take on the duties of a designer. This also includes the provision of information and record keeping duties detailed in the code. Therefore, it is crucial to obtain as much information that may confirm the risks associated with the plant or machinery to ensure the risks have been sufficiently controlled. Useful documents include documents associated with the safe operation of the plant, such as service and operations manuals.

If the supplier is unable to obtain sufficient information from the manufacturer, importer, or previous owner to be satisfied that hazards have been sufficiently identified and risks controlled, they must ensure that any risks are controlled, so far as is reasonably practicable in accordance with the OHS Act 2004, Section 20 that describes the concept of ensuring health and safety.

On some occasions, the design of certain types of plant must be design registered with WorkSafe. Further information can be obtained from Part 4 - Plant design registration in the compliance code.

HAZCON has been providing advice to many employers, as to where to start when obtaining plant and machinery. These assessment tools may include Safety in Design and Hazard and Operability Analysis. Another great source of information can be obtained from:


Author:Andy Perry


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