Preventing Contractor’s Plant Claims

The Most Common Causes of Contractor’s Plant Claims

With thanks to MECON for providing this information 

Most mobile plant claims are preventable with the application of some reasonably simple risk management. Below is a list of the most common causes of contractor claims and how to best avoid them:

Unlicensed operators 
Unlicensed operators do not have the proper training or skill to handle mobile plant. Furthermore, allowing unlicensed operators to use mobile plant is a breach of many work and safety laws which can result in substantial fines.
Aside from those fines, unlicensed operators increase the risk of machinery damage and potentially can cause injury or death.

Dust, noise or vibration 
Dust, noise or vibration are common physical factors in plant operation. Ensure you monitor these aspects during operation. Dampen-down dust, work during approved hours (and within acceptable noise levels). Carry out dilapidation reports to benchmark any subsequent damage caused by vibration and attach monitoring equipment to vibration-sensitive areas.

Not following OH&S procedures
A health and safety compliant workplace is essential for reducing the incidence of injury or death in the workplace. Employers are responsible for providing a healthy and safe work environment for their employees. A failure to comply with these procedures can result in injury / death, fines and even jail time!

Overhead power lines
Before starting work anywhere near overhead power lines, you should undertake a risk assessment of the area. As a minimum you should:
 Determine the height of the equipment when fully raised or extended
 Plan any plant movement on site beforehand to avoid contact with lines.
 Install “tiger tails” on the overhead lines.
 Install safety barriers and warning signs at ground level for high-risk areas.
 Deactivate or re-route lines where potential for contact is high.
Not weighing load before a crane lift
Each crane manufacturer, no matter what crane type, has maximum load limits. Ensure you do not exceed these limits by weighing the load prior to the lift, set-up for a safety margin in weight, ensuring overload warning devices are operating – and use them! Do not lift in less than ideal conditions (eg. too windy, ground too steep, inadequate outrigger support).

Not dialling before you dig
‘Dial Before You Dig’ is a referral service for information on locating underground utilities anywhere in Australia. Failure to Dial Before you Dig increases the risk of impacting and damaging pipes and cables buried underground.
Damaging underground pipes and cables can cause serious service disruptions to homes, businesses and essential services. It can cause financial loss to surrounding businesses and can endanger lives particularly when communication services are disrupted. Even minor damage can result in work stoppage on the site costing time and money.

Exceeding manufacturer’s guidelines 
Ensure the operator is familiar with the manufacturer’s manual. Set-up and operate the machine within those guidelines and the risk of damage and injury will be reduced.

Debris, soil and grease build up
Prior to using any mobile plant, physically inspect engine, electrical and exhaust system areas to ensure they are free from debris, fuel and grease build-up or damage. Clean these areas.
Adopting this simple precaution on start up can prevent fire damage to the machinery – and consequent interruption to your business.

Unsecured, unmonitored equipment (theft) 
Machinery theft is one of the most common – yet easily avoidable – of all mobile plant claims. Reduce your risk of theft by fitting a tracker on the machinery and installing an immobiliser. If possible use secure storage or a highly visible place to park the machine. Employ lock up plates to prevent access to cabin and engine if parked in remote or roadside areas.