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Mobile Plant Safety Awareness

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

If your organisation operates in the construction or civil's industry (or others similar), there is no doubt that you will have to manage the risks and maintenance associated to plant and equipment.

The purpose of this video is to raise some awareness of the hazards associated with vehicles and mobile plant at workplaces and the means of reducing the risk.

Mobile Plant Risks

It's important that not only the people that could be at risk of harm from impact from a site vehicle or plant, but also the people that are using this equipment are aware of the risks and understand the rules of the site.

These rules must be set from an organisational or a site management level, and it's important that protocol is in place for when people join the site.

It's important to think about other factors in terms of stopping Jobs, raising awareness and safety behaviours of individuals.

Here, we want to talk a little bit more about some of the requirements that should be in place associated to mobile plant and lifting equipment on a site.

All Mobile Plant/Vehicles on a site should only ever be operated following:

  • Method Statements

  • Risk Assessment

  • Barrier Requirements to minimise impact related to multiple operations in one location

  • Effective communication methods

  • The use of banksman where appropriate

  • Following permits and other instructions specific for the site

  • Ensuring persons are suitably trained and competent

  • The equipment is suitable for the task and has been inspected

Maintenance of Mobile Plant & Equipment

Establishing a planned maintenance program may be a useful step towards reducing risk, as well as having a reporting procedure for workers who may notice problems while working on mobile plant and vehicles.

Some items of plant and equipment may have safety-critical features where deterioration would cause increased risk.

Maintenance often comes from a location out of the worksite - something done at a third-party location, or maybe back at a service location.

It's important from a leadership and a cultural point of view that these maintenance activities continue to happen. There may be many safety critical features on a piece of equipment, and if these deteriorate or stop functioning, you could be putting people at that worksite at much greater risk of harm.

Inspection of Plant and Equipment

You cannot just simply rely on the maintenance activity, because it may be a three-six month or one-year activity. Various things can happen to that plant and equipment during this time. They could move sites and be used by a multitude of different people, who don't report problems that arise.

Before you use any plant or equipment, it is vital that this be inspected and any faults found are reported to your supervisor. Operators of plant should have access to the manuals / guides for information on how to set-up and inspect the plant.

Do not rely on someone else that has informed you that they have done the inspection earlier that day, or the inspection was completed yesterday.

Inspection sheets, or other forms of electronic inspections may be available to you and if not, it's time to ask the question where this can be found. It should become part of the work pack and there should be clear instructions associated to this.

Inspections should include some of these items:

  1. Doors, guards, windows and mirrors must all be in a satisfactory condition

  2. Wheels must be inspected to ensure that they are secured to the machine

  3. Tyres must be inflated to the correct pressure, with no cuts/nails

  4. Electrical equipment (lights, indicators, wipers, horns, reversing warning bleeper) must work

  5. Brakes must be in good working order

  6. Hand brake must work and can be tested by trying to pull away or on an incline.

  7. Hydraulics must be tested to ensure that they are working correctly

  8. Lifting gear must be in good condition

  9. Fail safe and critical safety items must be functioning correctly

  10. Plant operators inspection reports

The inspection criteria should be specific to that plant and equipment and also may need to be specific to that site and the activities that you will be undertaking.


Mobile Plant Safety - Reversing Vehicles:

Reversing vehicles on work sites account for approximately 25% of incidents that occur on work sites. This may be because:

  • Insufficient barriers between pedestrians and mobile plant / vehicles

  • Multiple activities are happening at the same time

  • The site require Banksmen to undertake reversing activities

Whatever the reason for these incidents occurring, it is essential that you are aware of what's around you.

This involves observing what is going on and using common sense in the practices you take associated to reversing plant and equipment at your worksite.

Stay alert and be seen is the message for people that are walking around the worksite where there are vehicles reversing.

Working with Cranes and Other Lifting Equipment

Never attempt to operate a crane, forklift or pother type of lifting machine unless you hold the relevant certificate and are verified to be competent. It's important that you understand the type of kit that is being used, and the activities you're doing.

In many cases, you will need to inspect the equipment before it's use, relying on your own judgement and following guides that are provided to us in the workplace.

It's also important that you think about the route that will be taken.

Is the route clear? Are there suitable and sufficient barrier in place? Are other operations that are going on being made aware of the activity that you're going to be carrying out? It may be that permits are required in order for that to happen.

Make sure you know the safe working load of your machine and the weight of any load you are required to lift. Try the load by lifting in slightly and halting, to see if the machine can take the load. Never leave the cab whilst load is suspended.

A lifting plan can go one of two ways:

  1. It can be generically associated to a standard lift, which always looks similar

  2. It can be dynamic - more related to a critical lift that doesn't happen often

In both cases, the plan should guide you through steps to follow in order to control the hazards and reduce risks associated to the activity.

Again, it's often that you need to use Banksmen or Slingers to support this.

There are a number of human errors that can occur associated to that. One of the key ones is around communication and who takes control - often the main operator.


Please be aware of some of the rules on your site associated to lifting operations and some of the requirements that you need to follow.

Remember, you may do this on a regular basis, but it's important that we think about the human factors here. We all from time to time, make mistakes, whether that be us operating the kit, or others around us walking into areas that they shouldn't. Stay Alert!


  1. The next time you're on a worksite when there's mobile plan and lifting kit around you, think about what the rules are for that site.

  2. If you're not being made aware of them, stop what you're doing and look to be made aware.

  3. Raise awareness within the worksite, gain some confidence that you have a place that is controlled.

  4. You have a number of hazards on site, but the controls are what keep you safe in the workplace.

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