A SHEARING shed built by champion shearer, former shearing shed assessor and former shearing industry trainer Don Boyle, Broomehill, was the venue last Friday for the launch of a shearing shed safety program.
Wool industry people, including Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) director David Webster, WAFarmers vice president and WoolProducers Australia (WPA) director Steve McGuire, wool brokers Danny Burkett and Peter Howie, joined woolgrowers, shearers and wool handlers in the Boyle shed for the launch of SafeSheds, The Shearing Shed Safety Program.
The program was jointly developed by AWI and the WA Shearing Industry Association (WASIA) with the aim of reducing workplace injuries, starting by good design and shed preparation to eliminate hazards through to increased awareness of best-practice work practices by everyone working in shearing sheds.
It is supported by WPA, Pastoralists and Graziers of WA (PGA), WAFarmers and the Shearing Contractors' Association of Australia.
SafeSheds provides a best-practice guide, checklists and self-assessment tools - including a mobile phone app - to enable woolgrowers and shed workers to better understand legal duty-of-care obligations, identify hazard risks and options to mitigate them and generally improve work environments.
It also enables woolgrowers to create and document an improvement program of upgrades for older sheds, ensuring they comply with workplace standards required by State Workplace Health and Safety legislation.
Detailed best practice guidelines cover all areas of shearing operations, including the shed, machinery and equipment, amenities and facilities, work practices and general working conditions.
The assessments include a pre-shearing checklist for the woolgrower and shearing contractor, an induction checklist for shearers and woolhandlers and a post-shearing checklist for the woolgrower to identify any areas that need improving before the next shearing.
The free-to-download SafeSheds app, provided in conjunction with mobile inspection tool iAuditor by SafetyCulture, also enables real-time reporting of health and safety incidents and for these incidents to be recorded by shearing teams.
The app works offline, even in locations with poor or no mobile reception.
AWI general manager woolgrower services Stephen Feighan said SafeSheds was an important program for an industry with a history of injury and long-term physical issues.
"The shearing industry is one of the most physically demanding occupations out there," Mr Feighan 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.
"Not only will this go a long way to increase entry, retention and longevity of staff, it will also improve industry productivity and profitability."
WASIA president Darren Spencer also said shearing was a high-risk occupation.
"SafeSheds will assist in improving conditions for those working in shearing sheds and improve compliance with modern workplace standards to reduce risk and injuries and to reduce insurance and worker's compensation claims," Mr Spencer said.
"As an industry we need to ensure we are doing everything to reduce the likelihood of injuries and accidents occurring in our shearing sheds and increase our ability to attract and retain staff."
Mr Spencer said industrial manslaughter laws recently passed by the State government could have significant consequences for woolgrowers and shearing contractors if a death occurred in a WA shearing shed that did not comply with current standards.
PGA livestock committee chairman Chris Patmore encouraged all farmers to "get on-board" with the program.
"Industry needs to reduce its lost time injury rate if it wants to put downward pressure on workers compensation insurance premiums," Mr Patmore said.
Information on SafeSheds is available on the AWI and WASIA websites.
SafeSheds' best practice guide and safety checklists are available from the AWI website at wool.com/safe-sheds or hard copies can be ordered via the AWI helpline 1800 070 099.
The phone app can be found at safetyculture.com/ safesheds/ or wool.com/safe-sheds.