An important part of workplace health and safety on construction sites in particular involves ensuring that all plant, machinery and equipment is properly maintained and in excellent working order to ensure its continued effectiveness. Machinery that is not properly maintained poses a health and safety risk which is why part of the safety plan should include the maintenance and repair of these vital tools to the job.
Despite the need for maintenance and repair being vital to maintaining a safe working environment, these maintenance and repair operations can in themselves become a hazard if they aren’t planned and managed properly. They also pose a risk if the safety plan doesn’t take them into account because the plan is not regularly reviewed.
Particularly in high risk industries such as construction, the risks involved with heavy machinery should never be underestimated or overlooked, which usually happens when they are introduced into the site after the safety plan has already been developed.
Companies who fail to identify and address the hazards associated with plant, machinery and equipment face not only heavy fines but possible workplace injuries and fatalities.
A steel manufacturing company recently found this out the hard way after they were fined $56,250 because of failing to ensure that plant was properly maintained.
The following excerpt from a post on SafetyCulture.com.au explains:
A steel manufacturing company was fined $56,250 plus legal fees on Monday for operating a heavy goods lift despite several identified risks.
SafeWork SA prosecuted the company under the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986 for failing to ensure that plant was maintained in a safe condition.
According to reports an investigation was carried out following an incident which left one worker with minor injuries when he fell 16 metres down a lift shaft. The lift was apparently not in a safe condition and the door guides were missing. The article goes on to explain:
Investigation revealed that the lift was not in a safe condition due to missing door guides, a worn door lock, broken emergency access devices and a pool of water in the bottom of the lift pit.
SafeWork SA Executive Director, Bryan Russell, reminded businesses to focus on following up risk assessments, audits and actions.
“Companies can maintain their excellent safety records by regularly auditing and inspecting and, acting to mitigate risks and hazards,” said Mr Russell.
As SafeWork SA highlighted, regular review and auditing of safety plans and procedures is necessary to ensure plans continued effectiveness.
Simply implementing a good and thorough safety plan is not sufficient to ensure accidents are avoided. Although this may be sufficient at first, these safety plans must be reviewed regularly, as the work on the site progresses and the environment and work processes change. The safety plan must change together with the site if necessary and in order to determine whether alterations to the safety plan are necessary, the plan should be regularly reviewed.
Regular Revision of safety training and safe work procedures is also necessary as the construction progresses to ensure the continued effectiveness of the control measures and that workers are aware of the changes.