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"Plant & Equipment Guarding"

The purpose of guards being fitted to plant and equipment is to achieve two things. First and foremost is to protect the operator of the plant and equipment from the hazards associated with its use. Secondly, to protect the plant and equipment for being damaged and ensuring that it remains safe and operational.
 
Plant regulations vary slightly from state to state but basically are the same in relation to the protection of the operator or user from the known hazards associated with the use of the plant or equipment.  The manufacturer and the owner are obligated under the Plant regulations and the OH&S Act to provide a safe work environment for the operator. This is achieved generally by the manufacturer fitting or incorporating guarding into the design.  The owner may then fit additional guards particularly if the known hazards are greater than what the manufacturer foresaw or the plant and equipment is to be used in different environment circumstances to what it was originally designed i.e. an excavator being used in a forestry environment.
 
Workplace regulators enforce the plant regulations in accordance to guarding. Generally, if a guard was fitted by the manufacturer then it must be fitted and maintained in a condition to provide protection from the known hazards. If a guard is removed or not functioning as intended by the manufacturer then the owner is deemed to be not compliant with the plant regulations. Panels and covers are commonly mistaken for not being guards but they are generally considered as guards i.e. an engine cover is a guard.
 
Guarding that is fitted after manufacture is often required by Australian, International, industry standards or the employer i.e. the canopy over the excavator cabin. All guards fitted post manufacture must be functional and maintained in a condition to protect the operator or user.  Workplace regulators will expect that if the Australian, International or industry standard is to have certain guards fitted for a prescribed use (such as forest industry standards), where these  guards are found to not be fitted the owner of the plant and equipment is in breach of the plant regulations.
 
To assist you to comply with the plant regulations and the OH&S Act, ensure that all guards that are required by the manufacturer, Australian, International, industry standards are fitted and maintained in a safe condition for operation. It is very difficult to prove that damaged guarding is still in a fit for purpose condition as it may not be structurally sound and hence may not provide the required protection. Damaged guards should be either repaired by suitably qualified persons or replaced.  All guards should be regularly inspected and maintained and documented records of inspection or repairs kept on file.