Wool industry to target ice

29 Mar, 2017 04:23 PM

AGRICULTURAL workforces aren't the only ones facing increased productivity threats driven by the inflated use of the illegal drug 'ice' by employees.

But the shearing industry is taking proactive steps to address work-place health and safety dangers, ignited by the national methamphetamine use epidemic that's hitting regional Australia particularly hardest.

A national summit of wool industry stakeholders and farm leaders is set to be held in Adelaide on May 24 to tackle problems caused by hard drugs like 'ice' and alcohol use, in Australian shearing sheds.

Those attending the summit, where a range of speakers will present on the tough topic, include representatives from; the National Farmers' Federation (NFF); Australian Workers' Union; Shearing Contractors Association of Australia; WoolProducers Australia; Australian Wool Exchange; and WA Shearing Industry Association.

NFF Workforce Productivity Committee chairman Charlie Armstrong said there was plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that the use of 'ice' was an issue in agriculture as it was in other industries around Australia.

Mr Armstrong said the impacts of 'ice' use on businesses like farming included; absenteeism; lost productivity; lower quality of work; and risks to workplace safety.

He said all of those factors also had an overall impact on team and group morale, in the workplace.

Mr Armstrong said the use of 'ice' was often still treated as a social issue, making it a difficult issue to deal with on-farm.

However, he said the shearing industry was currently working on ways to deal with drug and alcohol use in sheds - with a "particular focus" on 'ice' use - by running its national safety summit to examine and debate the issue.

At the summit, a range of speakers from across the wool industry will present and invite discussion on ways to tackle drug and alcohol use.

It stems from ongoing work by the Wool Industry Stakeholder Reference Group which was formed to support farmers, contractors and workers when responding to reports of workplace health and safety risks involving alcohol and drugs, through the development of practical guidance materials.

The group's ultimate aim being to protect the farmer, the shearing contractor and the employee from safety issues that arise when someone turns up to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Colin Bettles

Colin Bettles

is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media


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