With many organisations returning to their places of work, it is extremely important now more than ever that you can identify hazards associated to plant.
Identify Hazards Associated to Plant
When it comes to identifying hazards associated with plant, you must consider all the different parts of the plant’s lifecycle and all the different operations it’s involved in.
It’s a comprehensive process to go through thinking about all the potential hazards that might be associated with an item of plant, because you’ve got to think about all the things that the plant does. It might be something that has a mechanical process but it might also have heat and noise, manual tasks and all sorts of different hazard types.
Then you’ve got to think about the use of the plant including general use, cleaning, and maintenance. Your hazard identification process is a really key part of this process and if you miss something right back here, you’re not going to assess the risk and there’s a good chance you’re not going to control that risk appropriately. So, invest a bit of time in identifying your hazards nice and clearly.
Risk Assessment for Plant
The risk assessment process is not particularly complex but we do recommend that you use a specific plant risk assessment process, form or system. That will help you be a little bit more comprehensive and not miss key components.
When it comes to making sure your plant is risk assessed adequately, you must consider all of the particular lifestyle aspects, such as:
Consider Specific Controls
Once you have done your risk assessment, you need to put controls in for all those risks that are not at an acceptable level. As per every other hazard, you need to consider the hierarchy of control here, so we’ll look at things like:
Do you really need to use this piece of equipment? The answer is probably going to be yes.
Is there a safer version of the same thing that does the same job but does it in a much less hazardous way?
- Guarding can be a really critical control for plant and there’s various types of guards you might consider such as:
- Fixed guarding, which is permanently attached to the plant
- Interlocked guard which is attached to a switch – When you open a gate it switches the power off the plant
- Presence sensing type guarding, so, you have things like light curtains for example
- Light curtains – When your hand breaks the curtain it stops the operation of the plant
There are specific requirements under the code of practice and regulations to do with operator control. The controls that you use must follow a certain familiarity such as location. For example, clockwise is increase and anti-clockwise is decrease. It would be inappropriate to have a plant that worked differently. It would just present an increased level of risk.
Specific types of plant must have emergency stops in place, this is a quick way of an operator stopping operation of the plant if something bad is starting to happen and they’ve got to be those typical mushroom shaped big red buttons that you can just hit and you can stop it instantaneously.
Isolation Energy (LOTO)
There is also, oftentimes, for larger plant, you have isolation of energy requirement so the ability for a plant to be locked. Let’s say you have a large piece of plant that someone was working on and it was big enough that the person who was working on it was invisible to an operator, that person who’s doing the maintenance is got to be able to lock that thing out, so that the person is not going to inadvertently turn it on, and that’s called lockout- tagout.
- Be really comprehensive with your hazard and risk assessment process. The things I see go wrong here are people missing stuff right back at the start and they don’t put the controls in place because they just didn’t see a particular hazard associated with cleaning it for example.
- Once you’ve got those risk assessments in place, put your controls in, use the hierarchy of control and refer to the code of practice for specific controls that are required for certain types of plant.