SWMS Content for Plant Operators

If you are a PCBU, you will often be faced with the responsibility of ensuring that plant is used, stored, and maintained safely on the work site.

Plant generally refers to any machinery, equipment, or tools.

Powered mobile plant is defined as “any plant that is provided with some form of self-propulsion that is ordinarily under the direct control of an operator” (Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011).

Operating plant and powered mobile plant often comes with risk to the operators and their environment.

Work sites with any movement of powered mobile plant are considered high-risk. As such it is important that plant operators prepare and use SWMS accordingly.

Typical risks faced by plant operators include:

  1. Collision or Contact

Mobile plant operators are constantly faced with the risk of collision or contact with objects or people in the immediate area.

Ways to reduce the risk of collision include:

  • Proper training and qualifications for plant operators
  • Surveying area for any potential collision hazards
  • Safety equipment and PPE (high-vis, protective gear) worn by operators and site personnel
  • Traffic management systems
  1. Plant Overturning

Having plant operate on unstable or slippery surfaces means there is a risk of overturning. The plant operator must keep this in mind as any accident resulting in plant overturning can cause great damage to both the operator and anything in the immediate vicinity.

To reduce the risk of plant overturning

To reduce damage in the event of plant overturning, ROPS (roll-over protection structures) can be used, along with restraining devices for those operating the plant (e.g. seatbelts).

  1. Mechanical / Hydraulic Failure

Mechanical and hydraulic failures can endanger operators and other personnel. These types of failures can be difficult to avoid, meaning that everything possible should be done to reduce the risk of such events.

Proper maintenance and storage for plant is the most important thing, along with regular tagging and testing.

In the event of a mechanical or hydraulic failure, all operators and site personnel must know the proper safety procedure and protocols including:

  • Clearing the area
  • Knowing who to contact in the event of an emergency
  • Removing hazardous materials
  • First aid

Safety Management

Along with SWMS and the necessary plant qualifications, other ways of ensuring that plant operators and site personnel have adequate understanding of safety on the worksite include:

  • Toolbox talks, to help identify and mitigate any safety issues
  • Safety checklists
  • Safety notices

Maintaining a safe work environment is important, particularly for any site with powered mobile plant in use.

It is important that every hazard is met with elimination or at the minimum, a control measure to mitigate any potential risk.


SiteBook is an Australian safety management system for construction companies, builders, trades, and contractors.

Read about our Safety App for Plant Operators here

For an obligation free demo of SiteBook you can either call us on 1300 736 316 or visit our website: https://web.sitebook.com.au/contact/

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