What are Machinery Pre Starts and Why are they important?


Before operating any machinery, it's crucial to perform a pre-start safety check to ensure that the equipment is in good working condition. These checks can help prevent accidents and injuries, as well as prolong the lifespan of the machinery. In this guide, we'll explore the importance of machinery pre-starts and provide tips on how to conduct them effectively.

What are machinery pre-starts?

Machinery pre-starts are safety checks that are performed before using any type of equipment. These checks are designed to ensure that the machinery is in good working order and that it is safe to use. Pre-starts typically involve a visual inspection of the equipment, as well as a check of the various components and systems that make up the machinery. By performing these checks, operators can identify any potential issues or problems before they become serious safety hazards. They are then recorded step-by-step in a pre start log book as a record of the due diligence of the workplace and to record any faults to ensure they are looked at by a servicing agent before the fault becomes an accident.

Professional technician performing forklift pre start check

Why are machinery pre-starts important?

Machinery pre-starts are important for several reasons. First and foremost, they help to ensure the safety of operators and other workers who may be in the vicinity of the equipment. By identifying potential issues before the machinery is used, pre-starts can prevent accidents and injuries from occurring. Additionally, pre-starts can help to prolong the life of the equipment by identifying and addressing any maintenance or repair needs early on. This can save companies time and money in the long run by preventing breakdowns and costly repairs. We all know that when we use equipment on a daily basis, we can become complacent about repairs that need to be done. This is easily preventable by making pre-start checks mandatory before use of equipment which usually would take place at the start of a shift. Overall, machinery pre-starts are an essential part of any workplace safety program.

What should be included in a machinery pre-start checklist?

A machinery pre-start checklist should include a thorough inspection of all components of the equipment, including the engine, brakes, hydraulics, and electrical systems. It should also include checks for any leaks, damage, or wear and tear on the equipment. Additionally, the checklist should ensure that all safety features, such as guards and emergency stop buttons, are in place and functioning properly. Any issues identified during the pre-start should be addressed before the equipment is used. It is important to follow a standardized pre-start checklist to ensure consistency and thoroughness in the inspection process.

Daily inspection prestart checklist sticker on forklift

Who is responsible for conducting machinery pre-starts?

The responsibility for conducting machinery pre-starts falls on the operator of the equipment. It is their duty to ensure that the equipment is in good working order before use and to report any issues to their supervisor or maintenance team. Employers also have a responsibility to provide proper training and resources to their employees to ensure they are able to conduct pre-starts effectively and safely. By working together, employers and employees can ensure that machinery pre-starts are conducted consistently and thoroughly, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries in the workplace. In the event of a serious incident the regulator and investigators may request pre start checklists and maintenance records as evidence of a PCBU taking 'reasonably practicable steps to ensure a safe workplace

How often should machinery pre-starts be conducted?

The frequency of machinery pre-starts will depend on the type of equipment and the level of risk associated with its use. Generally, pre-starts should be conducted before each use of the equipment, particularly if it has been sitting idle for a period of time. However, some equipment may require more frequent pre-starts, such as those used in high-risk industries like mining or construction. It is important to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines and any relevant legislation or regulations to determine the appropriate frequency of pre-starts for your equipment. Our pre-start logbooks are designed with enough pre-start checklist for an entire year. We have logbooks for every type of machinery and they are available here.

How pre-starts can prevent downtime in busy workplaces?

Downtime can be a significant problem in busy workplaces, particularly when equipment breaks down unexpectedly. By performing regular pre start checks, businesses can identify potential issues before they cause significant problems, preventing unexpected downtime. Pre start checks can also help to ensure that equipment is used safely, preventing accidents and injuries that could lead to downtime. New staff may need to be trained if an incident is extreme enough to prevent an operator working. This means that it may be as mush as a year or more before the operator is working at the speed of an experienced operator. By identifying potential hazards and defects, businesses can take steps to address these issues, preventing accidents and keeping their workers safe and on the job.

Pre-Starts save money in the long term

By preventing breakdowns, excess wear and tear, and downtime, pre start checks can save businesses money in the long term. The cost of repairs and downtime can be significant, particularly in industries where equipment is critical to operations. Add to that the true cost of replacing staff after injuries prevent them from working or while they are recovering, workers compensation claims, training cost if new licences are required for replacement staff and all of the sudden the 15 minutes per day to perform a pre-start check begins to look insignificant.

Here are some related statistics about incidents:

  • Across Australia pre-start checks have become mandatory across many industries
  • According to Safe Work Australia there were 169 fatalities in the workplace in 2022
  • Of those fatalities 45% involved machinery or vehicles
  • 13% of incidents related to machinery operators
  • Construction and manufacturing made up 23% of all incidents
  • Transport and Warehousing made up 7% of incidents

In conclusion whilst not all injuries or deaths are preventable by pre-start checks, regulators proved that making pre-start checks mandatory for many industries would bring the injury and death rate down. This is why pre-start checks have become so necessary for everyone involved.


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