Safer shearing sheds push

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Bob GarnantCountryman
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The Shearing Shed Safety Program was conducted by WA Shearing Industry Association president Darren Spencer, AWI stake holder engagement coordinator Ellie Bigwood, AWI board director David Webster, and Broomehill sheep producer and host Don Boyle.
Camera IconThe Shearing Shed Safety Program was conducted by WA Shearing Industry Association president Darren Spencer, AWI stake holder engagement coordinator Ellie Bigwood, AWI board director David Webster, and Broomehill sheep producer and host Don Boyle. Credit: Bob Garnant/Countryman, Bob Garnant

The shearing industry’s push to make the workplace safer has brought about a pilot program called Safe Sheds.

Australian Wool Innovation and WA Shearing Industry Association’s launch of Safe Sheds — The Shearing Shed Program, brought 50 visitors to the Boyle family’s Broomehill sheep farm Koolibah on Friday.

Don Boyle, who designed and built four of his family’s wool sheds was a member of the program’s peer review group, which played a valuable role in the best practice content of the program.

AWI had committed $50,000 for the program’s development, which WASIA undertook on behalf of wool harvesters.

The program, three years in the making, was initiated because of the increased risk of work-related injury and illness in the shearing industry.

WA Shearing Industry Association president Darren Spencer welcomed 50 visitors to the launch of the Shearing Shed Safety Program at Broomehill.
Camera IconWA Shearing Industry Association president Darren Spencer welcomed 50 visitors to the launch of the Shearing Shed Safety Program at Broomehill. Credit: Countryman

WA Shearing Industry Association president Darren Spencer said the issues from the high-risk occupation were the state of sheds and the number of workers’ compensation claims.

“The industry has to improve its compliance according to modern workplace standards to reduce risk and injuries and to reduce insurance and workers’ compensation claims,” he said.

Mr Spencer said reduced injuries would counteract the number of days employees were absent from the workplace. “Some 22 per cent of shearing shed workers were on workers’ compensation at any one time,” he said.

“To develop our Safe Sheds guide we conducted extensive national surveys of both shearing and shed workers and growers to understand the issues, then researched best practice models throughout Australia and New Zealand, along with input from our industry review group.”

The Shearing Shed Safety Program launch was conducted by AWI stake holder engagement coordinator Ellie Bigwood, WASIA president Darren Spencer and WASIA administration officer Valerie Pretzel.
Camera IconThe Shearing Shed Safety Program launch was conducted by AWI stake holder engagement coordinator Ellie Bigwood, WASIA president Darren Spencer and WASIA administration officer Valerie Pretzel. Credit: Countryman

Mr Spencer said the 71-page guide provided a structure to systematically identify and control risks by looking at the shearing shed, machinery and equipment, amenities and facilities, work practices and general working conditions.

At the launch, the best-practice guide and assessment resource was handed out to visitors.

Its aim is to provide employers with an understanding of their duty-of-care obligations and contains a checklists and a handy mobile app to assess current shearing shed working conditions.

The guide will also allow woolgrowers to create an improved program to comply with modern workplace standards and helps to identify and rectify safety hazards with options to manage risks and conditions in the shearing shed.

AWI general manager of woolgrower services Stephen Feighan said Safe Sheds was an important program for woolgrowers.

“The shearing industry is one of the most physically demanding occupations out there,” he said.

“As an industry we need to do as much as is possible to reduce the risk of injuries and accidents occurring in shearing sheds as well as provide the best working conditions possible.”

The program is also an industry collaboration, harnessing the support with WoolProducers Australia, Pastoralists and Graziers WA, WAFarmers’ Federation and Shearing Contractors’ Association of Australia.

PGA livestock committee chairman Chris Patmore said the PGA encouraged all farmers to get on board with the program.

The Safe Sheds best-practice guide and safety checklists can be ordered via the AWI Helpline on 1800 070 099.

To find out more, visit wool.com/safe-sheds.

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