As part of this year’s 9th Annual Safe Work Australia Awards, Frasers Livestock Transport, a Queensland based, family owned company, won the award for the Best Solution to an Identified Workplace Health and Safety Issue. The issue surrounded the transferring or cross-loading of livestock during the
Risks associated with the transport of livestock are recognised as serious workplace health and safety
(WHS) issues and, like Frasers have clearly done, it is important that industry participants have effective ways of managing those risks in place.
Under the model Work Health and Safety legislation, persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers and other persons. There are several WHS risks and obligations related to the movement of livestock. These include the use of vehicles (including quad bikes), remote worker obligations, exposure to zoonotic diseases and general handling risks. PCBUs should ensure that they consider each of these risks, and suggested compliance strategies below to manage worker safety and to avoid penalties for breaches.
ANIMAL HANDLING AND QUAD BIKES
Animal handling is a common risk associated with the movement of livestock. PCBUs can help avoid safety incidents by ensuring consideration is given to the availability and use of facilities and aids, managing the physical environment, checking construction strength and design of yards and sheds, and reviewing work systems.
It is also important that PCBUs implement training and comply with all safety steps related to the particular vehicle being used in the movement of livestock. Quad bikes represent one of the most prominent WHS issues in relation to the transport of livestock. There was a quad bike fatality as recently as 26 April 2014, in which a man died near Winton, Queensland, while riding a quad bike to muster cattle. The man was not wearing a helmet and the quad bike was found on its side. The high risks associated with quad bikes were also noted in the recent Australia Farm Deaths and Injuries: Media
Monitors Snapshot, published by the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety. This publication
found that quad bikes cause the most deaths in the industry, and that in the three month period dating
from 1 January to 31 March 2014 there were three fatalities and eight non-fatal media reported injuries as
a result of quad bikes.
It is imperative that if quad bikes are being used as a method of moving livestock, it must be ensured
that proper protective equipment is worn, including the enforcement of wearing helmets and that proper
safety precautions are being taken. PCBUs can help avoid injuries and fatalities by ensuring that rollover/
crush protection devices are fitted, assessing whether the use of quad bikes is necessary and implementing safe riding practices, for example defining ‘no go’ areas on properties.
Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can pass from animals to humans and are therefore a risk associated with any work related to livestock. PCBUs can manage zoonotic diseases through limiting contact with animal bodily fluids and excrement of animals, implementing training programs for workers in relation to hygiene practices, using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and if there is doubt about exposure, take steps to isolate, test and immunise the person exposed.
REMOTE WORKER OBLIGATIONS
As noted in the autumn edition of this publication, safety risks associated with remote workers are particularly prevalent for those working on large properties, and often with those who participate in
the transportation of livestock. Remote workers are those workers who are isolated from the assistance of other persons, and under the model WHS Regulation, a PCBU must manage the risks associated with remote or isolated work, including communication with remote workers.
The main considerations in relation to remote work are the length of time working alone, communication
and access to emergency/rescue services, breakdown procedures, the nature of the work, the skill/capability of the workers and the risks associated with the particular time of day. PCBUs need to ensure that appropriate procedures are in place for any remote workers, which may include ensuring effective communication through the provision of satellite phones and a requirement for regular contact to
be made. A buddy system may also be adopted for certain tasks if possible, or certain tasks only being
undertaken when there are other people present.
The above is obviously only a general snapshot of the requirements for managing WHS risks when moving livestock.