Mobile Plant Pre-Start Checks: A Comprehensive Guide to Ensure Safety and Compliance

Mobile Plant Pre-Start Checks: A Comprehensive Guide to Ensure Safety and Compliance

Mobile plant machinery is an integral part of many industries, such as mining, construction, agriculture, and transport. These machines, such as excavators, loaders, bulldozers, and trucks, are used to carry out heavy-duty tasks and improve productivity in various worksites. However, operating mobile plant machinery also poses significant risks to the operators, bystanders, and the environment. Therefore, it is crucial to conduct mobile plant pre-start checks to ensure that the machinery is safe, compliant, and efficient before use.

Mobile Plant Pre-Start Checks: Why Are They Necessary?

Mobile plant pre-start checks refer to a series of inspections and tests conducted on mobile plant machinery before use. The purpose of these checks is to identify any potential hazards, defects, or malfunctions that could compromise the safety, performance, or compliance of the machine. Pre-start checks are an essential component of a workplace’s safety management system and help ensure that all mobile plant operators are aware of the risks and take necessary precautions.

In Australia, mobile plant pre-start checks are required by law under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) regulations. According to the WHS regulations, employers must ensure that mobile plant machinery is maintained and inspected regularly to ensure that it is safe and in good working order. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines, legal action, and serious accidents.

Legal Requirements for Mobile Plant Pre-Start Checks

As mentioned, the WHS regulations mandate that mobile plant machinery must be inspected and maintained to ensure its safety and compliance. The specific requirements for mobile plant pre-start checks may vary depending on the type and complexity of the machine, as well as the industry and worksite. However, there are some general principles that apply to all mobile plant machinery.

Firstly, pre-start checks should be conducted daily or before each use, whichever is more frequent. This ensures that any changes or damages to the machine since the last inspection are detected before use.

Secondly, pre-start checks should be conducted by a competent person who has the necessary knowledge and skills to identify potential hazards and defects.

Thirdly, the results of the pre-start checks should be recorded in a logbook or similar document, including any defects or corrective actions taken.

Finally, if any defects are identified during the pre-start checks, the machine should not be used until they are rectified.

How to Conduct Mobile Plant Pre-Start Checks

Performing mobile plant pre-start checks may seem daunting, especially for new operators or complex machines. However, by following a simple checklist and adopting best practices, pre-start checks can be completed efficiently and effectively. Here is a step-by-step guide to conducting mobile plant pre-start checks:

  1. Review the operator’s manual or instructions for the specific machine. This will help you identify the components, features, and specifications of the machine and understand its operation and maintenance requirements.
  2. Conduct a visual inspection of the machine’s exterior, including the body, tracks, wheels, tyres, lights, mirrors, and signage. Look for any signs of damage, wear, or leaks. Check that all safety devices, such as guards, rails, and handrails, are in place and secure.
  3. Check the fluid levels of the machine, including the fuel, oil, coolant, hydraulic fluid, and brake fluid. Ensure that they are at the appropriate levels and that there are no signs of contamination or leaks.
  1. Inspect the machine’s cab or cockpit, including the seat, steering wheel, pedals, controls, gauges, and warning lights. Check that all instruments and displays are working correctly and that the cab is clean and free of debris.
  2. Start the engine and run it for a few minutes to check its performance and sound. Listen for any unusual noises or vibrations that could indicate a problem. Check that the engine temperature, oil pressure, and other indicators are within the normal range.
  3. Operate the machine’s functions and movements, such as the boom, arm, bucket, blade, and steering. Test each function separately and ensure that they are smooth, responsive, and accurate. Check that the brakes, clutch, and transmission are functioning correctly and that there are no signs of slippage or overheating.
  4. Conduct a final walk-around inspection of the machine to verify that all components and systems are in good working order. Record any defects or abnormalities found during the pre-start checks and report them to the appropriate personnel for corrective action.

By following this checklist and conducting pre-start checks regularly, you can ensure that your mobile plant machinery is safe, compliant, and efficient. It also helps you identify and rectify any potential hazards or defects before they cause accidents or downtime.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Conducting Mobile Plant Pre-Start Checks

While mobile plant pre-start checks are essential for safety and compliance, some operators may overlook or rush through them, leading to errors or omissions. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when conducting pre-start checks:

  1. Not conducting pre-start checks daily or before each use. This increases the risk of using a machine that is not safe or compliant.
  2. Not following a standardised checklist or procedure. This can result in missing critical components or functions.
  3. Not involving a competent person to conduct the pre-start checks. This can lead to misidentification of hazards or defects and incorrect corrective actions.
  4. Not recording the results of the pre-start checks or reporting defects promptly. This can result in unresolved issues that could cause accidents or equipment failure.
  5. Not communicating the results of the pre-start checks to other operators or personnel. This can lead to confusion or incorrect assumptions about the machine’s condition.

By avoiding these mistakes and ensuring that pre-start checks are conducted consistently and correctly, you can improve the safety and compliance of your mobile plant machinery and reduce the risk of accidents and incidents.

Developing a Mobile Plant Pre-Start Checklist

Developing a mobile plant pre-start checklist is a critical step in ensuring that mobile plant machinery is safe and compliant before use. A pre-start checklist is a document that outlines all the components, functions, and systems that need to be checked before operating the machine. It should be tailored to the specific mobile plant machinery and comply with relevant safety regulations and standards.

Here are some steps to follow when developing a pre-start checklist:

  1. Identify the mobile plant machinery and its components: The first step is to identify the type of mobile plant machinery and its components. This includes the engine, hydraulics, transmission, brakes, steering, and any attachments or accessories. It is essential to have a thorough understanding of the machinery’s design and operation to create a comprehensive checklist.
  2. Consult relevant safety regulations and standards: The pre-start checklist should comply with relevant safety regulations and standards, such as the Australian Standard AS 1418.10-2011 Cranes, hoists and winches – Mobile elevating work platforms, or the Workplace Health and Safety Regulations. Consult with safety experts or regulatory bodies to ensure that the checklist is up-to-date and compliant.
  3. Break down the checklist into sections: To make the checklist easy to follow and comprehensive, break it down into sections. This could include sections such as engine and drivetrain, hydraulics, controls and displays, safety devices, and attachments. Each section should include specific items to be checked, such as fluid levels, component wear, and safety features.
  4. Include clear instructions: The checklist should include clear instructions on how to conduct each check and what to look for. Use clear and concise language and avoid technical jargon.
  5. Review and update the checklist regularly: The pre-start checklist should be reviewed regularly to ensure that it remains relevant and up-to-date. As mobile plant machinery evolves, new safety features or components may be added, and the checklist should be updated accordingly. Solicit feedback from operators and safety experts to improve the checklist’s usability and effectiveness.

Developing a pre-start checklist is a critical aspect of ensuring mobile plant machinery safety and compliance. By following these steps, operators can create a comprehensive and user-friendly checklist that promotes safety, efficiency, and compliance. Remember, pre-start checks are not optional, and skipping them can result in accidents, injuries, or even fatalities.

Below: Digital Excavator Pre-Start Checklist by DIGI CLIP mobile forms

Mobile Plant Pre-Start Checks

DIGI CLIP mobile forms provide digital safety, compliance & inspections checklists

Digital Mobile Plant Pre-Start Checklists

Digital mobile plant pre-start checklists are becoming increasingly popular i, as they provide a range of benefits over traditional paper-based checklists. Digital pre-start checklists offer many advantages, including improved efficiency, accuracy, and real-time reporting.

Here are some of the benefits of using digital pre-start checklists:

  1. Improved efficiency: Digital pre-start checklists can save time by allowing operators to quickly and easily complete the checklist using a mobile device or tablet. This eliminates the need for paper-based checklists, which can be time-consuming to complete and require manual data entry.
  2. Greater accuracy: Digital pre-start checklists are less prone to errors than paper-based checklists, as they can be programmed to include mandatory fields and ensure that all necessary information is entered. This can help to improve the accuracy of the data collected and reduce the risk of errors or omissions.
  3. Real-time reporting: Digital pre-start checklists can provide real-time reporting on the outcomes of the pre-start checks, allowing supervisors and maintenance teams to quickly identify any issues or defects and take appropriate action. This can help to improve the efficiency of maintenance processes and reduce downtime for machinery.
  4. Standardisation: Digital pre-start checklists can be standardized across an organisation, ensuring that all operators complete the same checks and that the data collected is consistent. This can help to improve compliance with workplace health and safety regulations and reduce the risk of incidents or accidents.

Overall, digital pre-start checklists offer many benefits over traditional paper-based checklists, including improved efficiency, accuracy, real-time reporting and standardization. As technology continues to advance, it is likely that more organizations will adopt digital pre-start checklists as a way to improve safety and compliance in the workplace.

Documenting the Inspection Process

Documenting the inspection process is an essential aspect of pre-start checks for mobile plant machinery. Proper documentation provides a record of the inspection, indicating that the machinery has been checked and deemed safe to operate. It is also crucial in case of any incidents or accidents that may occur while the machinery is in use.

Here are some tips for documenting the inspection process:

  1. Use a pre-start checklist: Use the pre-start checklist developed earlier to document the inspection process. The checklist should include all the components, functions, and systems that need to be checked before operating the machinery.
  2. Use a standardised format: Use a standardised format to document the inspection process. This could be in the form of a paper-based or digital checklist that is easy to follow and complete.
  3. Assign a responsible person: Assign a responsible person to conduct the inspection and document the process. This could be the operator, a designated safety officer, or a supervisor.
  4. Record the date and time: Record the date and time of the inspection on the checklist. This provides a record of when the inspection was conducted, indicating that the machinery is safe to operate.
  5. Record any issues or defects: If any issues or defects are identified during the inspection, record them on the checklist. This includes any wear and tear, damaged components, or safety issues. If the machinery is deemed unsafe to operate, it should be taken out of service immediately and repaired.
  6. Sign and date the checklist: Once the inspection is complete, sign and date the checklist to indicate that it has been completed and deemed safe to operate.
  7. File the checklist: File the checklist in a designated location, such as a folder or digital database. This provides a record of the inspection process that can be referred to in the future if required.

Documenting the inspection process is critical in ensuring that mobile plant machinery is safe to operate. By using a standardized format, assigning a responsible person, and recording the date and time, any issues or defects can be identified and addressed promptly. Remember, pre-start checks are a legal requirement, and documentation provides evidence that the checks have been conducted.

What if the Machine is Found to be Defective or Unsafe?

If the machine is found to be defective or unsafe during the pre-start checks, it must be taken out of service immediately, and appropriate actions taken to ensure that it is repaired or replaced before it is used again.

Here are some tips for addressing defective or unsafe machinery:

  1. Tag Out or Lock Out: Tag out or lock out the machine clearly to indicate that it is defective or unsafe and should not be used until it is repaired or replaced.
  2. Notify relevant parties: Notify all relevant parties, including the operator, supervisor, and maintenance team, that the machine is defective or unsafe and should not be used until it is repaired or replaced.
  3. Determine the cause: Determine the cause of the defect or safety issue. This could include wear and tear, improper maintenance, or a manufacturing defect.
  4. Develop a repair or replacement plan: Develop a plan to repair or replace the machine. This should include identifying the necessary parts or components, the estimated cost of repairs, and the timeline for completion.
  5. Follow up: Follow up with relevant parties to ensure that the repair or replacement plan is executed as planned. This includes confirming that repairs or replacement have been completed and rechecking the machinery before it is used again.
  6. Document the incident: Document the incident, including the date and time, the nature of the defect or safety issue, and the actions taken to address it. This provides a record of the incident and helps to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Addressing defective or unsafe machinery is critical in ensuring the safety of workers and compliance with workplace health and safety regulations. By tagging out or locking out the machine, notifying relevant parties, determining the cause, developing a repair or replacement plan, following up, and documenting the incident, any issues can be addressed promptly and effectively. Remember, safety should always be the top priority when it comes to operating mobile plant machinery.


Mobile plant pre-start checklists are an essential tool for ensuring the safety and compliance of workers operating mobile plant machinery. By completing a pre-start checklist before each use, operators can identify and address any potential safety issues or defects, reducing the risk of incidents or accidents in the workplace.

Digital mobile plant pre-start checklists offer many benefits over traditional paper-based checklists, including improved efficiency, accuracy, real-time reporting and standardisation. As technology continues to advance, it is likely that more organisations will adopt digital pre-start checklists as a way to improve safety and compliance in the workplace.

It is essential that employers provide appropriate training for workers to ensure that they understand the importance of pre-start checks. By promoting a culture of safety and encouraging workers to take a proactive approach to safety, employers can help to ensure that their workplace is a safe and compliant environment for all workers.

Frequently Asked Questions?

What should I do if an issue is identified during the pre-start check?2023-05-29T17:48:29+09:30

If an issue is identified, it is important to follow the company’s procedures for reporting and addressing equipment defects. This may involve notifying supervisors or maintenance personnel, tagging the equipment as out of service, and not using it until the necessary repairs or adjustments are made.

How should pre-start checklists be documented?2023-05-29T17:47:47+09:30

Pre-start checklists can be documented using paper forms, digital forms, or mobile applications specifically designed for this purpose. The checklist should include fields to record the date, time, equipment details, the person performing the check, and any issues identified, including corrective actions taken.

How often should mobile plant pre-start checks be conducted?2023-05-29T17:47:05+09:30

Pre-start checks should be carried out before each shift or whenever there is a change in operator. Additionally, if the mobile plant has been inactive for an extended period, it is advisable to conduct a thorough inspection before resuming operation.

Who should perform mobile plant pre-start checks?2023-05-29T17:46:07+09:30

Mobile plant pre-start checks should be conducted by competent operators or designated personnel who are trained and familiar with the specific equipment being inspected.

Why are mobile plant pre-start checks important?2023-05-29T17:45:29+09:30
  • Safety: They help identify any potential hazards or defects that could endanger operators or others in the vicinity.
  • Compliance: Pre-start checks ensure that the mobile plant meets legal and regulatory requirements.
  • Equipment performance: Regular inspections help maintain optimal performance and reliability by detecting and addressing issues early on.
  • Cost savings: Identifying and rectifying issues before they lead to major breakdowns can save on repair costs and reduce downtime.
What are mobile plant pre-start checks?2023-05-29T17:44:34+09:30

Mobile plant pre-start checks are systematic inspections performed on mobile equipment, such as excavators, cranes, forklifts, or loaders before they are put into operation. These checks ensure that the equipment is in a safe and operational condition.

DIGI CLIP mobile forms – What Do We Do?

DIGI CLIP mobile forms is an easy-to-use inexpensive digital checklist & inspection app and cloud-based software. DIGI CLIP is used across different industries to capture safety and compliance data and other information to help improve safety, compliance and operational efficiencies.

DIGI CLIP will allow you to remove paper reporting from your business – no more lost, late missing or illegible checklists. The DIGI CLIP mobile app allows images, comments and digital signatures to be added to checklists from a phone or tablet.

DIGI CLIP has a Form Library where you can access all of your checklists, inspections and more ready for use. All checklists and inspections can be edited or updated to meet your risk and operational requirements.

DIGI CLIP also has a safety management module called Safety Tracker. Safety Tracker is our incident and hazard reporting and management software application that adds to DIGI CLIP mobile forms. Incidents and hazards are reported via the DIGI CLIP app or directly on the cloud-based software. Incident and quality Investigations and hazard assessments are completed on templates provided by DIGI CLIP and corrective and closeout actions are tracked by the cloud-based software.

Follow this link if you want to know more about what we do and how we can help or send us a message.

Streamline your safety, compliance & inspection checks with the DIGI CLIP mobile checklist app today.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal, financial, or other professional advice, nor is it intended to replace the advice of a qualified professional. The author and publisher disclaim any liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential damages arising from the use of or reliance on the information provided in this article. Readers are advised to seek the advice of a qualified professional for any specific concerns or questions related to their business operations or compliance with relevant regulations.

By |2023-05-29T17:49:13+09:30July 27th, 2022|Business, Checklists, Safety|0 Comments

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