An Australian business helping machinery owners and operators ensure their equipment is safe to use has developed into the world’s largest plant and equipment safety platform.
Many in the rail industry who have witnessed the catastrophic results of incidents involving non-compliant or poorly maintained plant will agree: The significance of ensuring plant meets minimum safety standards cannot be overstated.
Thankfully, there have been several initiatives over the past decade to ensure high safety standards are met and maintained in the rail sector. Plant Assessor is one business that has helped establish these important benchmarks.
Founded in Australia in 2004, Plant Assessor is now used by more than 1,500 businesses and organisations throughout Australia and New Zealand to help capture and share machinery information, and create machine-specific risk assessments and SOPs, ensuring equipment is safe to use and is accompanied by the right safety information.
Major clients in the rail sector include Sydney Trains, V/Line, John Holland, McConnell Dowell, Downer Group, Lend Lease, CPB, Rhomberg Rail and many others.
This wide reach has major benefits: Plant Assessor’s database of more than 105,000 makes and models of equipment, specifications and safety requirements includes a broad range of equipment unique to rail; machines like tampers, ballast regulators, grinders, clippers, tensors, and so on.
Applying the RRV Standard
The company’s contribution to the rail sector also extends to its involvement in developing the AS/RISSB 7502:2016 Road Rail Vehicles Standard, released in mid-2016. Plant Assessor technical director Paul Dean sat on the committee responsible for developing the Standard.
Before the Standard was developed, compliance requirements for road-rail vehicles (RRVs) were determined by the numerous rail infrastructure managers across the country, leading to a proliferation of different compliance requirements.
To remedy this, the National Standard contains extensive detail across 31 sections covering every element of design, manufacture, use, inspection, testing and maintenance of RRVs.
Following its issue, Plant Assessor created new specific inspection surveys and risk assessments allowing users to apply the requirements of AS/RISSB 7502:2016 to their equipment.
Plant Assessor told Rail Express contractors and rail infrastructure managers are still approaching their application of the Standard cautiously, and the company is keen to help many in the industry come to terms with the practical aspects of compliance with it.
Sydney Trains: A success story
Plant Assessor counts Sydney Trains as a great example of an organisation that has revolutionised plant safety management in a crucial area of its business.
Sydney Trains’ Plant Hire Services Division is responsible for procuring and scheduling more than 1500 pieces of specialised plant and equipment from a panel of more than 200 suppliers. It conducts extensive maintenance and construction activity across the network each year.
Prior to choosing Plant Assessor, Sydney Trains maintained a traditional plant safety inspection regime via a team of inspectors who assessed each piece of equipment on a rotating basis using a generic, paper-based inspection process.
Plant Assessor says the Sydney Trains team found this process difficult, because:
- it relied heavily upon subjective judgements by inspectors who had different experience and training;
- the manual process resulted in slow inspection times, and;
- the generic nature of the inspections resulted in significant gaps of key information.
Suppliers were often frustrated by the variable and subjective nature of the assessments, and this led to disagreements at times, over the true safety status of certain machines.
On top of this, administrating a paper-based system was understandably time-consuming, and cumbersome.
Plant Assessor’s platform aims to solve these issues. Outdated systems that make it difficult to ensure the minimum standard for plant and equipment safety is being effectively upheld, are replaced with a more consistent, efficient, and transparent system.
For Sydney Trains, Plant Assessor replaced the manual inspection system with its cloud-based safety inspection platform. It tailored this platform to Sydney Trains’ needs, accommodating organisation-specific safety requirements to ensure all equipment was suitable for work in the rail corridor, as well as meeting Sydney Trains’ specific additional safety requirements for different types of equipment.
The Plant Assessor platform was also integrated with the existing Sydney Trains Plant Hire Services database, so inspections could be quickly and easily shared with suppliers.
Plant Assessor says the new system provided Sydney Trains with a system improved in multiple ways:
- Consistency: The new platform ensures inspections are consistent over time and between different inspectors.
- Accuracy: Plant Assessor ensures inspections are up to date with the latest developments in legislation, along with relevant technical and manufacturer standards.
- Mobility: Inspectors undertake inspections using tablet computers supplied by Plant Assessor, minimising paperwork and facilitating faster inspections.
- Transparency: All corrective actions identified during an inspection can be updated and managed online, allowing plant safety status to be checked 24/7 on any web-enabled device.
- Collaboration: Plant Assessor allows the sharing of comprehensive inspection and safety information with the owner/supplier of each item of plant inspected. This information includes hazard details, risk ratings and risk treatments along with details of the required legal and manufacturers standards related to each risk treatment.
Plant Assessor has made Sydney Trains’ complex plant hire and service task easier and faster, and reduced disagreements between the various parties involved in the supply of equipment. Most importantly, it has helped make working in the rail corridor, and travelling on Sydney Trains, safer for everyone.