Improving safety in plant and plant movement industries

A proactive inspection program conducted throughout the 2016/17 financial year in Perth and regional areas of Western Australia, focusing on plant and plant movement risk factors in the retail and transport industries has found improvements in some areas but in other areas of the sectors there is concern. 

WorkSafe director Joseph Lee said on 27 July 2017, that the program was prompted by the results of previous inspection programs that looked at mobile plant in other industries.

“We’ve previously undertaken similar programs, and these resulted in high numbers of improvement and prohibition notices,” Lee said.

“Hence, we made the decision to expand our attention on mobile plant into workplaces in further areas, in this case the retail and transport industries.

“WorkSafe inspectors visited 321 workplaces as part of this program and issued 1770 improvement notices and 11 prohibition notices, along with 335 verbal directions.

 “Of the 1770 improvement notices issued, 507 related directly to mobile plant in the workplaces.  A total of 133 related to records of pre-start checks and maintenance, and a further 129 to actual maintenance of mobile plant.”

Worksafe say during the program, a significant number of improvement notices were issued relating to:

  •  Evacuation procedures not being developed and clearly displayed;
  •  No testing of residual current devices;
  •  No register of hazardous substances or material safety data sheets;
  •  Damage or insufficient securing of pallet racking;
  •  A lack of traffic management compromising pedestrian safety; and
  •  No operator manuals for mobile plant.

“An earlier program, conducted during the 2014/15 financial year and focusing on motor vehicle repair workplaces, saw the issue of more than 1300 improvement and prohibition notices, a large number relating to vehicle hoists and traffic management,” Lee said.

“The inspectors reported that the situation in relation to vehicle hoists has indeed improved since that earlier program.  However, it appears that in many workplaces insufficient attention is being paid to the maintenance of mobile plant.”

“In the course of this inspection program, they noted problems with the maintenance of mobile plant items such as auto pickers, forklifts, pallet jacks and stackers, so the next proactive program will focus on these items of plant.

“We also continue to be concerned about the management of traffic in workplaces to ensure the safety of pedestrians, and strict rules need to be in place in spaces in which pedestrians and vehicles interact,” Lee said. 

“WorkSafe issued a media release reminding employees to ensure safe systems of work were in place after a number of serious and fatal incidents involving vehicles and people.

“There is also a Guidance Note on the safe movement of vehicles at workplaces, and all relevant workplaces should ensure they are familiar with the contents of this publication. 

“This program is part of a continuing series of proactive inspection programs looking at safety issues in a wide range of industries, activities and geographical locations.  They are all about providing employers with information on how to comply with workplace safety laws to make workplaces safer.”

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