Safety in the workplace is one of the most important issues for shearers, and the WA Shearing Industry Association (WASIA) has sourced funding from Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and CGU Insurance to begin its Shed Safety Assessment program.
WASIA president Darren Spencer said there would be a couple of surveys going out to growers and shed staff in the next four weeks, which would help in finalising their focus for the shed safety program.
“The surveys will look at the main problems, or those that different people think are a problem in the shed,” Mr Spencer said.
He said WASIA would be working towards putting together a program for better occupational health and safety in shearing sheds.
A four-step roll out would include best practice guidelines through the production of a shearing workplace health and safety video, the creation of an online knowledge base, hazard assessment criteria and a digital assessment tool which would be used to assess sheds.
Mr Spencer said the video would be created to highlight to growers and individual shearers their responsibilities and bring the shearing industry into the modern age.
“We could use it as part of the induction program and put it on the website so people can refer back to it if they have concerns or questions,” he said.
“The old system was hands-on – the new system would be more digital – so they will be able to do it all on tablets.
“Because it’s all done digitally everything goes into the database and the information can be collated.
“It can be used by growers and contractors to induct staff.”
Mr Spencer said the assessments would be voluntary for wool producers, but he was looking to get as many people as possible involved to lower the cost of the program.
“We are hoping to be able to work with the various grower groups around the State to attract as many people as possible,” he said.
Mr Spencer said shearing shed safety was done through WorkSafe WA but funding had dried up.
He said the program was essential to lift the standards of shearing sheds in the State for the safety of all who used them.
Chippy Chad and Co builder Chad Lavender said WA wool producers were making an effort to bring their shearing sheds up to date by investing up to $400,000 in custom built designs that catered for individual needs.
Mr Lavender said his business began to specialise in shearing sheds in February last year and was possibly the only one in WA that undertook renovation jobs to suit each location.
He said due to the high wool prices and the recognition of the importance of shed safety, he was flat out with orders seeing him booked up for three years in advance.
Mr Lavender said his business installed all the latest features shearers have been asking for.
“We go to the client and build what they want,’’ he said.
“We stick to the original designs and proven products and install EVO shearing heads for better safety.
“The products we use are guaranteed for 70 years.”
Mr Lavender said most of the sheds he had been to were more than 50-years-old and passed their used by date, with rusty or rotten foundations.
“For the past 50 to 60 years the sheds had been used but they had not maintained upkeep,” he said.
“Wool was not very profitable so people didn’t see the point, until now.”
Mr Lavender said for under $400,000 on average, everyone was able to get what they wanted – including a holding capacity of 1000 sheep.
“These are big sheds,” he said.
Mr Lavender comes from a farming background in Quindanning and said the shed safety program was a good idea but the standards needed to be looked at to really improve them.
“The standards need to be reviewed and new standards set,” Mr Lavender said.