Preparing a vehicle for a weed hygiene inspection

Vehicle, equipment and machinery hygiene is critical to the prevent the spread of  biosecurity risks

Vehicle, equipment and machinery hygiene is critical to the prevent the spread of biosecurity risks

Weed hygiene is more than just a legislative requirement. When you implement effective weed hygiene measures, you’re protecting your reputation, your property and your interests.

So how do you prepare a vehicle for a weed hygiene inspection?

1. Give yourself sufficient time and resources to conduct a thorough clean
Unless your car has come straight off the production line, chances are it’s been exposed to some kind of potential plant, animal or soil contamination through normal use.

Conducting a thorough wash down takes time. Depending on the type of vehicle you have and the level of contamination, you’ll need to allow up to three hours to ensure it is thoroughly clean. Larger vehicles and heavy earthmoving equipment may require a lot longer!

Take the time to gather a few essential inspection and cleaning items before you start. You’ll need some PPE including covered clothing and footwear, a hat and eye protection (particularly if you’re using high pressure cleaning equipment). For inspecting hard to reach places, you’ll also need a torch and a probe (keys or a pen will suffice). A dustpan and brush, rubbish bag and handheld vacuum cleaner are also very useful.

2. Find a suitable area to clean down the vehicle
The best place to prepare your vehicle for a weed hygiene inspection is at a specially designed wash bay. You might have company facilities or be lucky enough to have a wash bay on your property. If not, there are a range of public wash down facilities available throughout Queensland. High pressure hoses and compressed air facilities make the job of removing potential contaminants much quicker and easier.

3. Ensure the work area is safe
Secure the vehicle or equipment so that it’s safe for you to work on. It seems obvious enough, however there are a range of hazards at your average wash bay. Check that the vehicle is turned off and the park brake is engaged. Ensure there is no risk from passing traffic. Check that you know how to operate the wash down and cleaning equipment and that it is in good working order. Also remember that electricity and water don’t mix. Always do your own site-specific risk assessment.

4. Inspect all potential contamination points
Starting at the front, conduct a thorough inspection of all potential contamination points. Pay special attention to the radiator, engine bay, under body, wheel arches, side rails, spare wheel carrier, ute trays and the interior flooring. Look for anything that doesn’t belong including dirt, mud, built-up oil or grease, twigs, seeds and plant material of any kind.

5. Clean internal areas first
Sweep or vacuum any areas of internal contamination first. Pay special attention to any plant material, seeds or burrs caught in carpets and mats. Bag and dispose of any rubbish.

6. Target heavily contaminated external areas
Heavily contaminated areas can take a lot of effort to clean. It’s always good to wet these areas first, allowing the water to soften caked on mud for later removal.

7. Complete a thorough clean of the entire vehicle
Clean the vehicle from top to bottom and front to back.

8. Check that the vehicle is clean
Complete one final check of the entire vehicle and remove any remaining contamination. Remember to clean the wash bay as well when you’re finished, so you don’t re-contaminate your vehicle when you drive off.

9. Complete your weed hygiene declaration forms
Once you’re satisfied that your vehicle is free from potential plant, animal and soil contaminants, you can complete your weed hygiene declaration form. Should you require the signature of a third party or Authorised Inspector, ensure the vehicle stays on sealed roads until the weed hygiene report is complete.

For further information, see the Queensland Government’s Checklist for Cleandown Procedures or attend a nationally accredited Clean and Inspect Machinery Hygiene Course.