Shearing shed safety

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Stock Journal Feature, August 2023

Working conditions in sheds are seen as the primary barrier to attracting and keeping new workers in the wool harvesting industry, according to a survey of shearing contractors across Australia undertaken by AWI and WA Shearing Industry Association (WASIA).

SafeSheds was launched in November 2020 to improve safety in shearing sheds. Woolgrowers and shearing contractors have begun adopting the program to help them assess the safety of their shearing sheds. This will enable the woolgrower to create a program to rectify any safety hazards, improve working conditions and comply with modern workplace standards.

While safe shearing sheds help attract people into the industry, retain current staff and extend the longevity of their careers, they also improve industry productivity and profitability. By planning and documenting the improvements and steps to control risk, woolgrowers will be able to provide direct evidence of efforts in managing safety as required by relevant State Workplace Health and Safety Legislation.

The program has four sections:

  1. Legal Obligations of people involved in shearing
  2. Guidance on how to assess and manage risks by using the assessment guide
  3. Detailed best practice guidelines for all areas of shearing operations
    - Module 1 – The shearing shed
    - Module 2 – Machinery and equipment
    - Module 3 – Amenities and facilities
    - Module 4 – Work practices
    - Module 5 – General working conditions
  4. Assessment checklists
    - Full assessment
    - Pre-shearing checklist
    - Induction checklist
    - Post shearing checklist

However, it is important to note that SafeSheds is a self-assessment guide and not a formal audit.

 SafeSheds is available in three ways: i) an 80-page booklet that is downloadable in PDF format from the AWI website, ii) ordered in hard copy form the AWI Helpline 1800 070 099, or iii) collected during a catch up with the AWI Sheep Connect SA team. The SafeSheds checklists are also available in a handy digital, interactive format available to download and use for free.

The app version of the SafeSheds tool allows you to add photos, create tasks and record actions based on improvements needed, record and document the assessment results with date and time stamps, share reports and track changes over time.

The tool allows woolgrowers and shearing contractors to self-assess their wool harvesting workplace and work together to identify and rectify safety hazards from their mobile device.

Woolgrowers and shearing contractors can use the app for multiple sheds and properties and provide access to employees or shearing teams to record issues. It all works offline, even if you are in a location with poor or no mobile reception.

It’s important that woolgrowers act on the outcomes of the program with plenty of time before their next shearing to allow enough time to rectify hazards and improve shed conditions. 

More information: ​​​​