July 23 2015


A significant number of workplace deaths in WA have involved mobile plant. On average, there are also about 880 lost time injuries involving mobile plant each year in Western Australia.

Operators of mobile plant often have restricted visibility of ground workers and other pedestrians, especially when they are close to the machine, and there needs to be a series of controls in place to prevent injuries and deaths.

The most common injuries associated with mobile plant are falls from, crushing by, run over by, burnt from and entanglement with moving parts.

What is powered mobile plant?

There is no actual definition within WA OSH legislation however, it can be described as any machine that is self-propelled and controlled by an operator. Examples include excavators, bobcats, mobile cranes, earth moving machinery, etc.

Due to the number and generally serious nature of mobile plant related injuries, this topic is one of WorkSafe’s key priority areas. WorkSafe Inspectors regularly visit work sites and check to ensure that any mobile plant at the site is being maintained and operated in accordance with workplace safety and health laws.

Things that you must be doing to ensure safe operation and compliance whenever you or your personnel are required to use mobile plant are:

  • Ensure operator training, instruction and competence
  • Provision of an operator’s manual with the machine
  • Ensure that machines (whether owner or hired) are maintained as per manufacturers standards
  • Seat belts are to be worn by operators
  • Reversing beepers and flashing beacon lights are fitted and operational
  • Workers on the ground in the vicinity are wearing high visibility clothing
  • If used on a road, the machine is appropriately licenced
  • Ensure that daily pre-start checks are adequately conducted and recorded in log books
  • Adequate access and egress to the machine and worksite
  • Control of pedestrian movement, including procedures for interaction of personnel / mobile plant
  • Traffic management and acceptable ground conditions
  • Ensure communication between mobile plant operator and other personnel

In addition, Inspectors check that earthmoving plant, elevating work platforms, mobile cranes and forklifts also meet regulatory requirements.

The use of powered mobile plant on construction sites in WA requires a written, site specific safe work method statement (SWMS) to be developed and followed.

The Commission for Occupational Safety and Health has published a Guidance Note on the Safe Movement of Vehicles at Workplaces, along with other guidance material on mobile plant, forklifts, etc.

This is an area that will impact most industries on a regular basis. For any assistance in complying with current regulations and standards for plant or any other occupational safety and health matter, please contact Safety Solutions WA.