How to Manage Heavy Machinery Safety

Managing your heavy machinery safety and operating heavy machinery can both cause issues if the right systems aren’t in place. In August 2014 a scissor lift accident killed a Lyttleton Port worker.  The inquiry, a year later, found that the accident could have been avoided if an effective safety management system had been in place at the Port.  The system could have identified key risk areas and ensured those risks were controlled.

The investigation identified several areas where not enough thought had been given to the risks posed to the Port workers.  These key areas are important to any business that operates heavy machinery.  They are:

  • Maintenance
  • Risk identification for each piece of machinery
  • General operational checks including pre-start checks
  • Operator and maintenance staff training
Heavy machinery at a Port
Heavy machinery can pose a risk to workers

Machinery needs regular maintenance. Different levels of machine servicing or maintenance should be scheduled. A simple clean down may be required at the end of everyday but a full engine overhaul only once a year.  These maintenance records should be readily available to the machine operators, not filed away in the maintenance office.

A risk identification process is needed to identify potential hazards from the machines components or operating environment.   In the case of the Port incident the out-rigger legs were found to be clogged with coal dust. Operating the machinery in an area with coal dust should have been identified as a potential risk to the equipment and steps taken to minimise the effects.

Pre-start checklists are essential when using machinery.   A simple list with diagrams will help identify any potential hazards or faults. Faults can be recorded so that maintenance personnel can be notified if necessary or the machinery removed from use until repairs have been made.  The operator should be able to see the service history and previous checks done on the machinery prior to its operation.

If operated incorrectly, machinery can be a danger to both the operator and workers nearby.  It is very important that only people trained to use a specific piece of machinery operate it. Training registers should be kept to ensure operators have a current licence.  Some machinery will also need specialist mechanics to maintain and repair the machinery.  This was an one of the problems identified at the Lyttleton Port.  Staff had little or no training on the maintenance of the scissor lifts.

Employers need to have a good understanding of how to manage the use of machinery and have instant access to training registers and checklists for the machinery being operated.  Failure to do so could result in injuries to staff, disruption to the business and financial penalties.

Call us now to find out how SiteApp can limit the risk to your machinery operators and the overall business.  Give management real time access to machinery checklists and training registers and allow your machinery operators to carry out their pre-start checklists and risk identification via a smartphone or tablet.

Good Safety Doesn’t Need More Paperwork

Most companies have assumed that new Health & Safety at Work Act 2015 is a tedious compliance exercise involving increased amounts of paperwork.   However it is about being responsible for the health and safety of everyone at risk from a company’s work including its workers, customers, visitors, or the general public.  It does involve paperwork but is mostly about proving good health and safety procedures are operating within your company and that you have done everything possible to reduce “risk”.

For small business people, less paperwork means higher profits, boosted sales and more time with the family.  Tony Abbott (Australian MP)

Most people hate having to do any paperwork. Doing paperwork or process related tasks take them out of the field and away from the actual job.

In most cases, the burden of handling and processing paperwork falls on the shoulders of the foreman and management.  This often leaves them spending more time sifting through documentation than assessing physical risks at building sites.

Safety paperwork
You don’t need to do more paperwork to keep safe

Keen to reduce your paperwork but rather be out on site assessing risks and remaining compliant? Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Paperwork at the time

The biggest hassle about doing paperwork is the time it takes. Knowing that doing paperwork is a least favourite task for most people, many either put it off till the last minute or rush through the process just to be done with it.  What happens when things are rushed? Mistakes are made.  Where safety is involved mistakes cannot be made.

The best information is often that collected in the moment. With an online system available on tablet or smartphone the paperwork can be completed at the time of an incident, before a job is carried out or immediately after.

Eliminate the paper whenever possible

Take a look at your processes and forms. Do you ask the same questions on several forms? Are all the forms necessary? Can a simple computer program or online form be used instead so people don’t have to fill out paperwork but can just fill in an online form where the basic information is stored and re-used? Often using a computer program (online or off) will also automate things so paperwork isn’t needed. Or just eliminate the paperwork altogether if it’s possible.  Could one photo be better than 100 words describing a work hazard?

Electronic signatures

Often a manager becomes a bottleneck, requiring their approval before anything can get done. Using electronic systems means that documents can be sighted by a manager electronically and signed electronically too.  This means documents don’t pile up unseen on the managers desk. Approval gets back in the field quickly.

Have the information you need ready

If you don’t have information, you can’t make decisions properly. If you haven’t the paperwork to hand and have to leave the site to get it valuable time is lost.  Technology has changed all this; with offline functionality and storage in the cloud documentation can be wherever you are. The same document can be shared across several sites and you will know they are all working off the same version.  Has the computer ever “eaten” your document? With automatic back-ups to the cloud this is no longer a problem.


Thinking of reducing your paperwork but wanting to remain compliant?  Siteapp can manage all your Health and Safety compliance documentation in the cloud.   A document system wherever you are.  Call now for more information.