Plant, equipment and the machinery that come with it cause injuries at the workplace on an annual basis. These injuries can vary, from bruises and scratches due to falls to amputations and broken bones to moving parts or reversing vehicles and heavy machinery. ‘Plant’, as defined by the National Standard for Plant (NOHSC, 1994) refers to an area that features machinery, equipment, scaffolding, implement or tools that serve as components for machines. As a busy project area with machinery and resources, it’s but normal that certain risks are present that can damage resources and undermine the safety of workers. And the challenge for project managers and engineers is to come up with the right planning and preparations to keep the plant safe and production at all times.
Involve the right persons, identify the plant hazards
Careful planning starts with the identification of plant hazards and should involve everyone who has direct access to the equipment and machinery. The management and the individuals who have the expertise relevant to the business and its operations should also be included in the planning and decision-making procedures. And when it comes to identifying hazards, it requires a combination of research, investigation, and observation. This can be done by inspecting the plant and project site and look for obvious signs of risks and accident-prone areas. It is also important that the accident and near-miss records should be checked to identify the areas that in need of attention and training. Another step is to revisit the instructions of the manufacturers on using and maintaining the equipment and machinery.
During the risk identification phase, the focus should not just be on the inherent risks in the plant, but also the risks in the surrounding areas and how workers react to the plant and the associated risks. In short, the risk assessment should explore potential risk-related questions: ‘What if the worker fails to report an accident’; ‘what if a worker access a machinery but he is not allowed to do so’. These what-if questions can help explore possible situations and allow the team to come up with potential solutions.
Reversing systems as common risk control methods to prevent accidents
Once the inspection and risk assessment has been completed, then that’s the time certain risk control projects and investments can be made. Some of the common risk control methods that can be employed are rollover protection for tractors, fall arrest protection for workers working in workboxes, a creation of temporary barriers between pedestrians and roads and the installation of reversing alarms and reversing camera systems. Reversing camera systems empower operators, allowing them a good look at the blind side. The alarms, on the other hand, can serve as complementary accessories that can inform pedestrians about reversing vehicles.