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Plant safety

Last updated March 2023

This chapter explains your health and safety obligations when you obtain and use plant in your workplace.

What are your health and safety obligations in relation to plant?

Under health and safety legislation in all jurisdictions, you have an obligation to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health and safety of your workers and other people affected by your business. This includes ensuring that plant within your workplace does not pose health and safety risks.

Definition: Plant

The term ‘plant’ covers a range of machinery, appliances, installations, equipment, containers and tools used in a workplace, as well as any component of, or connection to, any of these things. Examples of plant include mobile plant like forklifts, office equipment like computers, scaffolding, ovens and kilns.

In health and safety legislation, the term plant excludes plant that relies exclusively on manual power for its operation, e.g. a screwdriver or hammer.

The Work Health and Safety Act (WHS Act) outlines specific duties for:

  • plant designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers;
  • the installation, construction and commissioning of plant;
  • the management and control of plant;
  • selling used plant; and
  • dismantling and decommissioning plant.
Important: Businesses operating in Victoria should comply with the Victorian Compliance Code for Plant, which can be accessed here.
Important: State health and safety regulations and standards outline specific obligations for particular high-risk plant.

High-risk plant includes:

  • scaffolding;
  • amusement devices, e.g. go-karts;
  • powered mobile plant, e.g. forklifts, tractors and earthmoving machinery;
  • plant under pressure, e.g. boilers, pressure vessels and gas cylinders; and
  • lifts and lifting equipment, e.g. cranes, hoists, winches, elevators, escalators and moving walkways.
Tip: Seek advice from a health and safety consultant or your safety regulator about your obligations for high-risk plant.