Moving Plant & Machinery Safely

What is Plant? (Hint, it’s not a flower)

A worker driving a forklift with silver canisters on. Plant is machinery that processes material by way of a mechanical action which:

  • Cuts, drills, punches or grinds
  • Presses forms, hammers, joins or moulds material
  • Combines, mixes, sorts, packages, assembles, knits, or moulds material

Plant also includes lifts, cranes, tractors, earth moving equipment, pressure equipment, hoists, powered mobile plant, plant that lifts or moves people or materials and more. We are focusing specifically on the movement of this equipment around a site in terms of controlling its traffic as it can be fatal if not carried out safely and correctly.

Safe Working Practices for Drivers

Drivers of plant and machinery should ensure that they:Wheels of a truck with a red centre, with another green truck behind them.

  • Follow site procedures, comply with all site rules, do not drive at excessive speed limits and ensure loads are safe to transport
  • Do not drive when their abilities are impaired by ill health, poor vision, prescribed or illegal drugs, or alcohol
  • Ensure the windows and mirrors are kept clean and clear and keep the vehicle tidy and free from obstructions
  • Do not allow passengers to ride on vehicles unless safe seating is provided, and park vehicles on flat ground if possible
  • Do not smoke during refuelling operations, and do not make adjustments with the engine running and guards removed
  • When visibility from the driving position is restricted, use visibility aids or a signaller, and stop if visibility becomes defective
  • Make sure you fully understand the operating procedures and safe operating limitations of their vehicle
  • Do not reverse without checking behind the vehicle for pedestrians, vehicles or obstructions

Traffic Control Measures

To assist in making plant and machinery movement safe, traffic controls should be employed on site. These include:

  1.  Have Risk/no Risk zones:  The risk zone may cover a single item of plant or multiple items working together and must consider additional risks such as embankments: operating radius, tracking movement and pedestrian zones. As a minimum, the risk zone must be physically segregated by barriers to prevent any persons from entering the risk zone.
  2. Separate Pedestrian Routes:  Reversing areas, loading/unloading bays and high-risk operation areas must be separated from pedestrian routes. Pedestrian routes shall also be separated from any other routes and clearly signed, indicating routes, hazards and warnings. Crossing points and plants should be easily identifiable such as the pictures displayed on the right.
  3. One-Way Circulation System: This will help to avoid vehicles reversing and keep visitors and workers safe. The vehicles should always stop for loading and unloading in designed areas. Thus, the risks of an accident occurring are reduced. Turning areas and drive-through loading and unloading areas must also be adopted.
  4. Signallers On-Site: – They should be in constant communication with the drivers during reversing operations. Signallers should not be put at risk from vehicle movements, e.g. by standing directly behind reversing vehicles. Moreover, signallers used to direct pedestrian and vehicle movements need to be competent in the methods used to ensure their own and other people’s safety. They should be authorised by the site management and easily distinguished on-site by the use of colour-coded helmets, clearly labelled jackets etc. A safe system of work needs to be in place to prevent signallers from being struck by vehicles.
  5. Physical Segregation and Warning Signs: Provide these in all situations which have significant danger potential if struck by A red and white striped cone on a road.vehicles. For instance, safety barriers to protect LPG storage areas, and goalposts, bunting and barriers where there is a risk of overhead services and other hazards being struck by vehicles.
  6. Vehicle Dismantling: When vehicles are transported on-site on low-loaders they should be dismantled so far as possible to keep them with the dimensions of the carrying vehicle, emptied of fuel so far as possible, relieved of hydraulic pressure, and secured and restrained to prevent movement                                           


10% Off Risk Assessment Online Training Course.Overall, transport hazards and the risks they present need to be identified and assessed. Removing hazards and reducing and controlling risks is essential. A risk assessment should be conducted for all transport activities including: vehicle arrival and departure, loading and unloading, movement around site, and maintenance works. Moreover, ensure that Housekeeping is at a good level in order to have enough visibility around the site and improve safety awareness.

If you would like to feel more confident in completing risks assessments for your plant, we are offering 10% OFF our RoSPA Accredited Risk Assessment Online Training Course for this month only! 

We also offer in-house training courses for all types of plant and machinery – learn more here.