OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 19 Powered Mobile Equipment

Section 256 Operator responsibilities

Subsection 256(1)

This subsection describes a worker’s responsibilities prior to actually operating powered mobile equipment. Emphasis is placed on the worker being trained and competent to operate the equipment safely. Competency can be demonstrated by operating the equipment to a level considered satisfactory by another worker who is competent in the operation of that same or similar equipment and who has been designated by the employer to assess this competency. Section 15 of the OHS Regulation specifies what, at a minimum, must be covered in the worker’s training.

To operate the equipment safely, the worker must understand the equipment’s operating instructions. Only workers authorized by the employer may operate powered mobile equipment. How a worker becomes “authorized” depends on the employer. Some employers may provide verbal authorization while others may do so in writing following an evaluation of the worker’s operating skills.

Subsection 256(2)

This subsection allows a worker in training to operate powered mobile equipment as long as the worker does so under the direct supervision of a competent worker designated by the employer.

The term “direct supervision” is defined in the OHS Code and has special meaning. In particular,

(a) direct supervision means that the worker who is not competent must be under the personal and continuous visual supervision of a competent worker – the two workers must be capable of interacting with one another on a one-on-one basis and must maintain visual contact with one another throughout the performance of the work for which direct supervision is required; and

(b) the two workers must be able to readily and clearly communicate with each other – in noisy or distracting circumstances, hand signals may be appropriate. These signals must be clearly understood by both workers. If communication devices such as portable two-way radio headsets are used within protective headwear for example, transmissions must be clear and reliable for the duration of the work.

Subsection 256(3)

The operator is the worker most familiar with the performance of the powered mobile equipment. As such, the operator is responsible for reporting to the employer any condition that may affect the safe operation of that equipment. Serious problems should be reported immediately. Problems that do not present an immediate danger can be recorded and reported by any designated method appropriate to the particular situation. Systems such as a vehicle log book, maintenance work order, or central dispatching system can be used to record problems requiring future attention. The problems must, however, be reported in a way that ensures they are addressed in an appropriate timeframe.

Operators are responsible for ensuring that they operate powered mobile equipment safely. In particular, full control of the equipment must be maintained at all times to prevent near misses and accidents.

An operator must use the equipment’s seat belt and all other safety equipment provided e.g. restraining devices, guardrails, operator protective structures, etc. The operator is also responsible for making sure that passengers use their seat belts and any other safety equipment provided.

Since poor housekeeping can affect worker safety, the operator must maintain the equipment in a reasonable condition. The cab, floor and deck must be kept free of material, tools or other objects, including spills of lubricant or fuel, that could create a safety hazard to the operator or other occupant(s). Objects such as lunch boxes, flashlights, tools, first aid kits, etc. can get jammed under control pedals or become airborne during an accident. Such objects must be appropriately stored and secured.