Mechanical equipment

Mechanical equipment (plant, machinery and hand-held power tools) can cause serious injuries, including open wounds, fractures and amputations. Some injuries can result in death. Sprains and strains often result when mechanical equipment is used incorrectly. Bad working posture contributes to many such injuries.

The most common mechanical equipment injuries are to hands and fingers, which may be cut, sprained, dislocated, broken, crushed or cut off by machinery or tools. Eye injuries can be caused by heat or radiation or by objects thrown from moving mechanical parts.

Key point

Your workplace must have a maintenance program to ensure that all equipment and machines are in safe working order.

Mechanical equipment injuries can cause long periods of time off work, and sometimes permanent disability. Many injuries happen in the construction, agricultural and manufacturing industries.

When working with mechanical equipment, personal protective equipment may include protective gloves, arm guards, safety glasses, hard hats and safety boots.


Guards attached to mechanical equipment protect you from the moving parts of machines. Machine guards must never be removed and if a guard is damaged or missing, the machine must not be used until it can be repaired or replaced. A missing or damaged guard must be reported at once.

If guards are removed during cleaning, make sure they are replaced and checked by an authorised person before the machine is used. Never start machinery during cleaning.

'Locking out' equipment

Locking out is one way of stopping electrically powered machinery from starting during maintenance. A lock is attached to the machine switch so it can't be turned on.

The person working with the machine should hold the only key to the lock. A lock must only be removed by the person who attached it to the equipment or machinery. Procedures must be put in place for the removal of the lock should that person not be available (for example, if there has been a change of shift workers, or if the person authorised to remove the lock has been called away).

'Danger' and 'Out of Service' tags

Red and black 'DANGER' tags are designed for the protection of individual people. The only person permitted to remove a personal 'DANGER' tag is the person whose name is on the tag.

Yellow and black 'OUT OF SERVICE' tags are used to prevent accidents or damage to machinery that is out of service for repairs.

Key point
All faulty equipment should be tagged so that it can't be used until it is replaced or repaired.

The safe work procedures for removal of 'DANGER' and 'OUT OF SERVICE' tags at your workplace must be followed.

Key point
Apprentices, trainees and work experience students must be supervised at all times by a qualified worker.


Students can complete the following Mechanical Equipment activities: