It’s very common to encounter mobile plant on a worksite, and working in areas with movement of mobile plant is considered high-risk construction work. The design, manufacture and use of mobile plant is heavily regulated, due to the high potential for injury.

Some risks that arise from working with or in proximity to mobile plant include:

  • Plant overturning
  • Falling objects from suspended loads
  • Operators being ejected from the plant
  • Collisions between the plant and workers, structures or energised powerlines
  • Failure of pressurised elements that may release fluids posing a risk to health and safety
  • Crushing or entrapment between plant and fixed objects
  • Ground failure due to instability of subsoil or fill
  • Sprains and strains associated with access and egress from operator cabins
  • Hearing loss.

Types of plant

Common types of plant on worksites include:

  • Forklifts and telehandlers
  • Cranes (from small ‘Franna’ or pick & carry cranes to big lifting 200T mobile cranes)
  • Earthmoving equipment (such as excavators, loaders, backhoes and skid-steer loaders)
  • Civil plant (such as scrapers, graders, trenchers and loaders)
  • Concrete pumping trucks
  • Material delivery vehicles
  • Elevated work platforms and scissor-lifts.

Planning and risk assessment

Working in areas with movement of mobile plant is considered ‘high risk construction work’, you must produce a safe work method statement.

You should check that operators of mobile plant are competent to use the equipment or machine and have the appropriate licence.

Some types of plant are more regulated and require operators to hold a correct and valid high-risk work licence when operating plant such as cranes, forklifts and EWPs with a reach of more than 11-metres.

Earthmoving equipment, scissor-lifts and EWPs with a reach of less than 11-metres require competency training only, rather than a licence.

Control measures

Hierarchy of Controls

Use the following Hierarchy of Controls to determine what level of control you need to manage the risks of working with plant.

  • Elimination – try to eliminate risks at planning and design stage, for example designing the site to prevent plant and pedestrians in the same area
  • Substitution – use electrical plant instead of ICE to remove toxic emissions hazards
  • Engineering – regulated through legislation and standards for design including engine noise insulation, guarding for moving parts, height/weight/wind speed limiters, dead man pedals/emergency fail to safe cut-offs
  • Administration – produce safe work method statements, conduct training, check appropriate licencing, and implement traffic management plans
  • Personal protective equipment – wear high visibility clothing, a hard hat and protective footwear.

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