Mobile plants of varied purpose and capacity are found in workplaces throughout Australia.
As defined by the Work Health and Safety Act, 2011 in Australia;
- A ‘plant’ is a piece of machinery, equipment, tool, container or implement.
- A ‘mobile plant’ is one of these things that have some form of propulsion, and usually under the direct or indirect control of an operator.
Ordinarily, these include;
a) The means to move men and materials around a place of work. For example, forklifts, cranes, platforms, reach trucks, sweepers and dumpers.
b) Earth movers which include bulldozers, excavators, scrapers, graders, bobcats, etc.
c) Tractors of any design and modification.
Inherently, the use of mobile plants in workplaces has been associated with a risk of accidents resulting in injuries and fatalities. The fact that the use of a utility aggravates a risk to life and limb at a workplace is the reason why there is a need for comprehensive mobile plant risk assessment.
Like any form of systematic assessment, a mobile plant risk assessment must recognize the risk factors associated with these utilities. These can be broadly divided into four categories;
1) Organization of the work
This would include workplace communication, a pressure of deadlines, planning and design of the workplace.
2) Equipment in use
Includes things such as design, maintenance, and appropriate environment of work
3) Procedures involved
Includes control measures preventing unauthorized personnel from using utilities and against inappropriate or overuse.
4) People undertaking the task
Takes into account the level of training and knowledge involved among operators and workmen as well as factors that contribute to lapses in concentration.
The other dynamic that a mobile plant risk assessment would look at is the type of injury that is most often reported. Owing to the fact that most mobile plants take the form of large, heavy pieces of machinery, crushing, being caught in, electrocutions and falls are by far the most complained of.
As the Work Health and Safety Act goes, persons involved in managing a workplace that involves a mobile plant as well as designers, manufacturers and suppliers of the plant must ensure as reasonably practicable that it is safe and without risks. Legislation has also taken care of ensuring by obligating the manufacturers of mobile plants of eliminating certain risks to the operator of a plant and those in its vicinity. The purpose of mobileplant risk assessment thereof presently lies in ensuring that these standards are maintained, from manufacturing to the workplace.
Occupational Health and Safety officers are employed in order to identify what factors result in injury from a particular plant at a particular workplace. Each incident of injury, be it minor or fatal, must be dealt with for any form of danger to life and limb is unacceptable in normal working conditions. By the type of injury from these incidents, introspection must be done, and suggestions sent for suitable change and eliminate the recurrence of such an incident.
Eliminating risks in the workplace can be done in four basic ways;
Getting rid of the hazardous instrument. If it is essential, employing a change in design
Of a more hazardous utility with a less hazardous one
3) Engineering control
Include things like insulations and rails, where certain risks are eliminated by the manufacturer irrespective of how and where a plant is used.
4) Administrative control
To ensure plants are being used under set limits and instilling the practice of proper training among workmen.
With continued mobile plant risk assessment, those who work hard to earn a living worry less about their safety. The goal of society is to make living easier, safer and convenient, and at a busy workplace, mobile plant risk assessment does just that.