Loading ramp safety standards given a lift

Livestock producers, handlers and transporters have been handed a new set of loading ramp standards by Standards Australia.
Camera IconLivestock producers, handlers and transporters have been handed a new set of loading ramp standards by Standards Australia. Credit: Cally Dupe/Countryman, Cally Dupe

Livestock businesses have been urged to take advantage of tax write-offs to buy new loading ramps and assess the safety of their old ones after the release of new standards this week.

Livestock producers, handlers and transporters were handed a new set of loading ramp standards by Standards Australia this week, in the form of a 37-page document called livestock loading/unloading ramps and forcing pens.

The standard was developed by Standards Australia following public consultation this year and input from a representative supply chain and community steering committee.

The move was prompted by the October 2013 death of 36-year-old truck driver Chad Lynch, who died from head injuries when a hoist above a loading ramp broke and fell while he was unloading sheep at an abattoir in Stawell, Victoria.

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Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Australia animal welfare committee chair Mick Debenham said the new standards — which are guidelines and not mandatory — would improve worker safety and animal welfare.

“Loading ramps and forcing yards are the most dangerous part of livestock handling facilities,” Mr Debenham said.

“In 2020, livestock producers, handlers and transporters can no longer accept the unnecessary risk of crushing, lacerations and slips, trips and falls, and tragically, sometimes death.”

Mr Debenham said there was consensus within the industry that improved safety could be best achieved by keeping livestock and people separated.

“This is a guiding principle that is reflected throughout the standard and by improving safety for workers, we also improve the safety and welfare of our livestock — the two go hand in hand,” he said.

“The standard is strongly supported by the livestock supply chain and based on the pre-existing Guide for Safe Design of Livestock Loading Ramps and Forcing Yards published in 2015.

“Those who have followed the guide will generally meet the standard.”

ALRTA national president Scott McDonald said that there had never been a better time to invest in safer and more productive livestock ramps.

“After an unprecedented string of natural disasters, the rural sector is now enjoying a good season and minds will soon turn to investing profits in improved supply chain infrastructure,” he said.

“The Federal Government is encouraging new investment via instant asset write-off provisions announced in the 2020-21 Budget.”

Mr McDonald said until June 30, 2022, businesses could generally write off the full cost of depreciable assets in the first year of use or installation.

“I strongly encourage all ramp owners to undertake a safety risk, animal welfare and productivity assessment of their existing livestock ramps and take the opportunity to bring facilities into line with the national ramp standard while the investment incentives are in place,” he said.

“Farmers and depot managers purchasing new equipment should ask the manufacturer if the product meets the standard.”

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