National Work Health and Safety guidance for supply of plant released



On the 4th of July this year Safe Work Australia released a national guidance material package for Safe design, manufacture, import and supply of plant to support the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act and WHS Regulations.

They clearly set out the onerous nature of expectations of suppliers under WHS legislation. In particular they de-bunk the belief that some suppliers have that “generic” plant hazard reports suffice.

The national material provides practical advice for persons conducting a business or undertaking on how to manage risks at the workplace. The material includes information sheets to assist small businesses and workers meet their WHS obligations.

The specific section of The Guide for Importing and Supplying Safe Plant on supplying second hand plant states specific requirements for the supply of second hand plant either for use or for scrap.

  • Selling second-hand plant at a retail outlet or directly;

  • Importing second hand plant for on-sale, and

  • Auctioning second-hand plant-except certain clearing sales (see below).

The second-hand plant supplier must give written information to the buyer about what the plant was designed or manufactured to do and its safe use. The supplier must also identify any faults in the plant. Our view is that the only way to achieve this is by inspecting the plant items individually. Generic plant hazard reports do not identify faults of each of the items being sold, simply outline the expected safety features, not those actually in place.

Second-hand plant sold for scrap or spare parts and that is not intended to be used at a workplace must be marked as scrap and information provided to the buyer in writing that the plant that the plant is being supplied for scrap or spare parts only and cannot be used safely in its current form for any other purpose.

Suppliers’ duties and agents or auctioneers

Suppliers’ duties apply to sellers’ agents like auctioneers, unless the agent does not take control of the supply and has no authority to make decisions about the supply. For example, agents selling used agricultural plant at farm clearing sales do not take possession of the plant, have little or no control of the supply and are not considered to be suppliers. In these limited circumstances the suppliers’ duties will only apply to the seller-not their agent.

Out-dated or non-existent safety features of second-hand plant

Second-hand plant is more likely to have out-dated or missing safety features, for example missing an emergency stop control. In these circumstances suppliers of second-hand plant for use at a workplace must do what is reasonably practicable to supply safe plant.

If not reasonably practicable, information needs to be given to the buyer about any relevant matters including the purpose for which the plant was designed or manufactured and any conditions necessary to ensure the plant is without risks to health and safety when properly used e.g. inform the buyer that a rollover protective structure must be fitted before the tractor can be used for work.

Risk Strategies specialises in documenting item-specific plant hazard reports

Risk Strategies specialises in and supports a number of firms with item-specific documenting plant hazard reports. We physically inspect each individual item of plant and document all hazard controls and faults. Our consultants are qualified safety professionals with at least seven years experience and are highly skilled in plant safety management. We offer piece of mind to plant suppliers and their agents.