WorkSafe WA highlights mobile plant safety issues

Inspection program on plant and plant movement finds improvements and shortfalls

WorkSafe WA highlights mobile plant safety issues
WorkSafe WA has mobile plant safety concerns


WorkSafe WA has some mixed news on the state’s mobile plant handling and transport task.

An inspection program looking at safety in plant and plant movement in the retail and transport industries has found improvements in some areas, but areas of concern in others, the authority says.

The inspection program was conducted throughout the 2016/17 financial year in Perth and regional areas of the state, focusing on plant and plant movement risk factors in the retail and transport industries.

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," WorkSafe director Joseph Lee says.

"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 1,770 improvement notices and 11 prohibition notices, along with 335 verbal directions.

Of the 1,770 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."

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

No operator manuals for mobile plant.

WorkSafe provided some background, details and an update on earlier progress.

"An earlier program, conducted during the 2014/15 financial year and focusing on motor vehicle repair workplaces, saw the issue of more than 1,300 improvement and prohibition notices, a large number relating to vehicle hoists and traffic management," Lee says.

"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."

WorkSafe sought to raise awareness last November, after a number of serious and fatal incidents involving vehicles and people, issuing a Guidance Note on the safe movement of vehicles at workplaces.

It says all relevant workplaces should ensure they are familiar with the contents of that 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," Lee says. 

"They are all about providing employers with information on how to comply with workplace safety laws to make workplaces safer."


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