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.

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.

74 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

      - including where these functions are incidental to the main purpose of the plant
  • plant designed to lift or move people or materials - eg: lifts, escalators, cranes, fork-lifts, hoists, vehicle hoists; and elevating work platforms. Ships, boats, aircraft or vehicles are not covered, EXCEPT that Division 5 (Duties of employers and self-employed persons) does apply to a vehicle designed primarily as a means of transport on public roads or rail, if it is being used at a workplace other than a public road or rail.
  • 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 a number of duty holders. Check the regulations for more details There have been some changes from the 2007 regulations.

  • Division 2 - Designers of plant: hazard id; guarding; operator controls; emergency stop devices; warning devices; provision of information to manufacturer; hazard id in design during manufacture; records and information (now seven years, down from ten), including any standards or engineering principles used.
  • Division 3 - Manufacturers of plant: control of risk; provision of information from designer to anyone to whom plant is supplied; keeping of records and information (now seven years, down from ten).
  • Division 4 - Suppliers of plant ( includes importers): 
    A supplier of new or used plant must provide information as supplied by the manufacturer on safe use and any records if used. If the supplier has no information, then supplier must inform person to whom plant is being supplied of this.  With regards to tractors (over 560kg) specifically, suppliers cannot supply any manufactured/imported into Victoria after July 1981 unless they are fitted with full roll-over protection.
    Suppliers who hire or lease plant must ensure that between any hiring or leasing, the plant is inspected and maintained to ensure risks are eliminated or minimised so far as reasonably practicable.
    This division also includes agents who sell plant.   
  • Division 5 - Employers and self-employed person who use plant: This Division is the part which will affect workers and workplaces more directly. For more detail, see below.
  • Division 6 - Registration of plant designs: The regulations require that the design (and alteration) of certain items of plant be registered.   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 and self-employed persons (SEPs) who use plant

Division 5 of the regulations, covering the duties of the employer and the self-employed person (SEP) who uses plant, is probably the most important section for health and safety representatives to be familiar with.

Subdivision 1

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

Subdivision 2 - hazard identification, risk assessment and control

97 Hazard Identification

The employer or SEP must, so far as is reasonably practicable (SFARP), identify all hazards associated with the installation, erection, commissioning, decommissioning, dismantling  and use of plant and the systems of work associated with that plant.

98 Control of risk

  1. The employer/SEP must. SFARP, eliminate any risks that have been identified under regulation 97.
  2. 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. isolating the plant from people; or
    3. using engineering controls; or
    4. combining measures in (1), (2) and (3).
  3. If a risk remains after implementing 1 & 2 SFARP, then the employer/SEP must reduce the risk/s by using administrative controls
  4. If a risk remains after implementing 1, 2 & 3 SFARP, then the employer/SEP must reduce the risk/s by providing personal protective equipment (PPE).

99 - 100 Specific risk control measures - Guarding

This regulation provides a lot of detail regarding guarding of machines. Basically, IF the employer/SEP uses guarding as a control measure, then the employer/SEP 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/SEP's responsibility to rectify this.

Other parts of this regulation stipulate further requirements, namely:

  • if access is not required during 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, then the guarding used is a physical barrier that can only be altered/removed by the use of tools first, and if not practicable, then there must be a presence-sensing system in place;
  • ensuring that by-passing or disabling the guarding, whether deliberately or by accident, is a difficult as possible;
  • ensuring that the guarding will control the risk of parts being ejected from the plant;
  • guarding or insulating pipes or other parts of the plant to eliminate/reduce risks associated with heat or cold.

101 - 103 Specific risk control measures - Operator controls, emergency stop devices and warning devices

These regulations cover the identification, location and guarding of operator controls; measures the employer/SEP 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, functional and are not unintentionally activated.

They also cover instances where there are more than one person operating the plant, and/or more than one emergency stop device. There have been some changes to these regs to ensure that emergency stop devices are of the type that ensure that, if an emergency stop device has been used, the plant cannot be restarted until the device is manually reset and the start function is manually activated, if the plant is designed to be operated by more than one person and have more than one emergency stop device.

104 Specific risk control measures - Installation, etc of plant

The employer/SEP must, SFARP, 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.

105 Use of plant

The employer/SEP must ensure that:

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

106 Record of inspection and maintenance

An employer/SEP must ensure that any record of inspections and maintenance carried out on certain types of plant (as referred to in items 1.3, 1.5, 1.14, 1.15 (Chairlifts) and 1.16 of Schedule 2; amusement devices, hazard level A, B or C  boilers, lifts, tower cranes and hazard level A, B or C pressure vessels - with some exceptions) is retained for the period the employer/SEP has management or control of the plant. 
Note: Chairlifts have been added to this reg.

107 Plant not in use

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

Subdivision 3 - Control of risk in relation to specific plant

This subdivision places additional duties on the employer/SEP in relation to particular types of plant, but in now way limits the duties, requirements, obligations or liability of an employer/SEP under regs 98 - 107. Check the regulations for details of requirements if any of these types of plant are in the workplace:

109 - 110: Powered mobile plant - the employer/SEP 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.

111: Tractors - must have roll-over protection (but this does not apply in certain circumstances)

112 - 113: Industrial lift trucks - must have lifting attachments appropriate to the loads being lifted or moved, used only in manner that is safe, and have warning devices.

114: Electrical plant and electrical hazards - the employer/SEP 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 hazards 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.

115: 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, work boxes, etc.

116 -117: 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/SEP must also ensure the safety of people travelling in any lift requiring registration and affix a notice stating the working load of the lift.

118: Scaffolds - the employer/SEP must ensure that:

  1. apart from erecting or dismantling the scaffold, no work is performed from the scaffold unless it 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. SFARP. if a scaffold is left unattended, people who would not ordinarily be using the scaffold are prevented from gaining access to it.

119 & 120: Tower Cranes (new in 2017 regs) - the employer/SEP must ensure any tower crane is erected on a supporting structure or foundation that has been designed:

  1. by an engineer with relevant knowledge & experience;
  2. for the specific conditions at the location;
  3. taking into account tower's configurations and forces

The same applies to the placement of any crane ties on the tower.

The employer/SEP must keep any design information concerning the supporting structure or foundation, and crane ties.

Subdivision 4 - Other duties

121 Review of risk control measures

 The employer/SEP must review and if necessary revise risk control measures:

  • Before plant is used for the first time at the workplace; or
  • before any alterations to the plant, 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 (based on reasonable grounds)
122 - 123 Information,instruction and training

Applies if a hazard is identified under reg 97. 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 commissioning, 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).

124 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 106 is prescribed.

Division 6 - Registration of plant designs

125 - 127 This division requires that the design (and altered design) of certain items of plant (as specified in Schedule 2) must be registered. The regs also allow for recognition of interstate designs.

See Also:

Last amended March 2018